Anxiety & Depression
The term anxiety is a generalized category for several different types of depression. Individuals who suffer from a severe phobia (e.g. heights, spiders, death); a compulsive habit (e.g. washing hands, nervous twitch), or stress related to a past or present life threatening situation (e.g. physical illness, rape, war, natural disaster, or unexpected life-threatening diagnoses) all lie under the scope of anxiety and depression.
Types of Anxiety
- Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD): OCD is characterized by obsessive and habitual acts. Obsessive thoughts can manifest in any form and will generally lead an individual to feel the need to act on the their thoughts. Behaviors range from checking locked doors to forms of self-abuse, sexual acts, and/ or the need to feel safe in a routine that has a predicable outcome. These repetitive behaviors or mental acts are intended to prevent or reduce anxiety related to obsessions, or prevent something bad from happening. However, acting on the compulsions only provides a temporary relief from anxiety and results in shame or guilt afterwards. it is important to recognize that OCD can escalate into an Emotional or chemical addiction.
- Social Anxiety Disorder (SAD): The fear that is linked to social anxiety is based within specific social situations. The disorder can be debilitating; an individual will go into isolation. Usually, this disorder is rooted in a past social situation, in which the individual was embarrassed, scrutinized, or humiliated.
- Panic Disorder: Panic disorder is the term for short fits of apprehension and/or terror; known as panic attacks. The attacks can abruptly rise within ten minutes, and last as long as a few hours. The attacks not only, hit an individual emotionally; the actual body goes through physical changes (e.g. shaking, trembling, increased heart rate).
- General Anxiety Disorder (GAD): This form of anxiety is a condition that exhibits symptoms similar to panic disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and other types of anxiety. These symptoms include constant worry, restlessness, and can interfere with concentration. If it goes unaddressed, patterned habits to temporarily relieve anxieties can lead to OCD and greater challenge the ability to change.
- Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD): This specific anxiety disorder is linked to an overwhelming stress caused by different forms of traumatic events. Some examples include: physical abuse, rape, loss, natural disaster, and witnessing trauma.
General Anxiety Disorder (GAD)
Mood and anxiety disorders are serious medical illnesses that affect approximately 20 million American adults. These disorders can disrupt every aspect of a person’s life – emotions, thought processes, behavior and physical health. According to the World Health Organization, major depression is the leading cause of disability in America. GAD affects about 6.8 million American adults, including twice as many women as men. The disorder develops gradually and can begin at any point in the life cycle, although the years of highest risk are between childhood and middle age. There is evidence that genes play a modest role in GAD.
It is normal to experience occasional anxiety. However, people with generalized anxiety disorder, suffer from persistent anxiety and worry that is much worse and more persistent than the anxiety most people experience from time to time. The high level and chronic state of anxiety associated with GAD can make ordinary activities difficult or even impossible.
Symptoms of Anxiety
- Performance Anxiety
- Recollections of the event, flashbacks, and nightmares
- Emotional numbness and avoidance of places, people, and activities that are reminders of the trauma
- Persistent anxiety and worry
- Difficulty concentrating
- Feelings of panic, fear, and uneasiness
- Uncontrollable, obsessive thoughts
- Repeated thoughts or flashbacks of traumatic experiences
- Ritualistic behaviors, such as repeated hand washing
- Difficulty making decisions
- Head aches
- Muscle tension
- Inability to relax
- Gastrointestinal problems
- Impairment in social, personal or daily living
- Difficulty sleeping
- Obsessive and compulsive behaviors
Performance Anxiety is a form of Social Anxiety. It inhibits your ability to focus and fulfill tasks. The effects of it range anywhere from embarrassment, to fears of failure, or nightmares to panic attacks. Furthermore, it can feel debilitating and over-ride rational thoughts. This can ultimately trigger feelings of hopelessness and create a self-fulfilling prophecy. An example would be a male who struggles with erectile dysfunction and obsesses over being judged or failure during sex. Evaluating your “performance” while you are performing typically results in hurting your performance. Furthermore, this heightens frustration, and/or making unhealthy decisions.
Another example is the athlete who feels pressure to always out perform others and uses winning as the only measurement of success. This unrealistic expectation and limited space to navigate one’s identity never results in a positive outcome. Performance can eventually parallel self-destructive tendencies. This vicious cycle occurs in all categories of anxiety: Sexual relationships, athletic endeavors, public speaking, academic goals, etc.
Depression varies from person to person. An estimated 33 to 35 million U.S. adults are likely to experience depression at some point during their lifetime. The disease affects men and women of all ages, races, and economic levels. (That said, depression can be linked to the accessible, never ending, false and unrealistic presentation of other’s happiness via social media). Although no single cause of depression has been identified, it appears that interaction among genetic, biochemical, environmental, and psychosocial factors may play a role. The fact is, depression is not a personal weakness or a condition that can be willed or wished away, but it can be successfully treated. However, women are at a significantly greater risk than men to develop major depression. Studies show that episodes of depression occur twice as frequently in women as in men. The encouraging news is that it may be successfully treated.
Depression left untreated may lead to serious consequences. The personal pain and feelings of worry may become so serious that the individual’s ability to perform at work or school becomes compromised. Suicide may become a possible risk for those who are depressed.
Causes and Symptoms of Depression
- Genetics: The tendency for depression can be inherited.
- Life Stresses: Interpersonal conflicts, recent loss of loved one, medical illnesses or recent surgery, family relations.
- Chemical Imbalances: Some may have an imbalance of mood-influencing chemical in the brain. Medication in addition to therapy is suggested in such cases.
- Stress & Anxiety: Events such as the death of a loved one, the loss of a job, or the end of a relationship are often negative and traumatic and cause great stress for many people. Stress can also occur as the result of a more positive event such as getting married, moving to a new city, or starting a new job. It is not uncommon for either positive or negative events to become a crisis that precedes the development of clinical depression.
- Obesity: Researchers have found new evidence that people who are obese may be more likely to become depressed and vice versa. In a review of other studies, investigators found that obese people may be more likely to become depressed because they experience poor health and are dissatisfied with their appearance. Also, researcher found that depressed people may be more likely to become obese because of hormone and immune system changes that are triggered by depression.
- Chronic or Terminal Illness: It is estimated that up to one-third of individuals with a serious medical condition experience symptoms of depression. People diagnosed with chronic illnesses must adjust to the demands of the illness as well as to its treatment.
- Poor Health: Depression has a greater impact on overall health than arthritis, diabetes, angina, and asthma, but it all too often goes unrecognized and untreated. A report from the World Health Organization (WHO) suggests, based on interviews with almost 250,000 people in 60 countries, researchers found depression to be a greater predictor of poor health in patients with these chronic conditions than having one or more chronic medical conditions without depression.
- Diabetes: The rate of depression in people with diabetes is much higher than in the general population. Previous studies have shown individuals who are insulin-resistant may have higher serotonin concentrations and may be more prone to depression and even suicide.
- Recent Death: Grieving is a personal journey that each individual approaches in their own unique way. Nothing is concrete, nothing is set in stone. There are many paths one can take on this journey but all lead to the same destination; healing. However, depression is a stage within a process that each individual is most likely to encounter along the way.
Symptoms of Depression
- Feeling empty or sad
- Being angry or irritable
- Feeling worthless or guilty
- Loss of interest of pleasure in activities
- Thoughts of suicide or death
- Change in body mass (weight loss/weight gain)
- Change in sleep patterns
- Lack of energy
- Digestive problems
- Being restless or slowed down