After a year of a pandemic, countless layoffs, recovering from illness, loss of loved ones, and being isolated from our friends and family, it’s no wonder our collective mental health is in rough shape.
While some people were filling their time with baking sourdough and needlepoint, others were having a hard time even getting out of bed.
The uncertainty of fear of 2020 led many people’s mental health disorders to worsen. Others found themselves struggling with new, foreign feelings of anxiety or depression.
With in-person therapist or doctor visits pretty much off the table for much of the year, people had to cope with these newfound worrisome feelings in whatever way this could. For some, it meant joining a support group on Facebook. Others bought self-help books and tried to learn skills to ease their mental pain. Others still turned to alcohol or drugs to numb their minds.
However you coped, don’t judge yourself for it. Last year was the most difficult year in recent human history, and it’s okay if you didn’t know how to handle it.
With that said, things are looking up in the United States, and it’s time to address these lingering mental health symptoms.
What is anxiety?
Before you treat something, you have to know what it is. Many people are familiar with the terms “anxiety” and “depression” but most would probably give you a general definition:
“Anxiety is when you feel anxious and depression is when you feel depressed.”
Well, yes, but there’s a lot more to it than just that.
If you suffer from an anxiety disorder, you likely experience higher amounts of fear and worry than what is appropriate for the situation.
There are a wide range of anxiety disorders, including panic disorders, phobias, social anxiety, obsessive-compulsive behavior, and more.
A good indication of anxiety is if you feel like your behavior is out of your own control, like if you feel compelled to wash your hands four times after touching a doorknob.
There are also physical symptoms that often accompany anxiety disorders, like a racing heart, sweating, shallow breathing, a nervous stomach, and difficulty concentrating.
What is depression?
Depression goes beyond feelings of “being sad.”
If you suffer from depression, you may experience intense feelings of hopelessness, helplessness, and worthlessness. You may also develop a lack of interest in life and the things that used to bring you joy.
One person’s depression may look very different than another’s. One person may sleep for 16 hours, while the other can’t manage to sleep for 5. One person may have gained 20 pounds, while another lost 20. One person may focus on feelings of guilt or shame about themselves, while another may hone in on pessimism about the world in general.
Treatment options for anxiety and depression
Unfortunately, depression and anxiety aren’t mutually exclusive—someone who has an anxiety disorder can develop depression, and vice versa.
If left unchecked, anxiety and/or depression can lead to very serious complications in your life. You could begin damaging your relationship or losing friendships altogether. Your lack of focus or drive may affect your career. Your thoughts of fear or worthlessness may escalate to the point where you consider taking your own life.
For these reasons, as soon as you notice that your mental health could be in danger, you should seek help. You can schedule a visit with a therapist and see if they can help you work through some of your issues.
You can also speak to a doctor about going on medication to manage your depression or anxiety, such as Xanax or Prozac. If you decide to go this route, make sure you’re educated on the risks of these prescriptions. If you tend to have an addictive personality, make sure you bring this up to your doctor, as it can be very easy to become addicted to anti-anxiety medications or antidepressants.
If you’re at the point where you think you may have a dangerous relationship with any mental health-related medications, don’t be afraid to reach out to a specific rehab center that treats Xanax. Prozac, or other antidepressants and anti-anxiety medications.
No matter where you are on your mental health journey, try not to be too hard on yourself. Living with anxiety or depression can feel suffocating at times, but there are many ways you can relieve the pressure and get back to yourself again.