Facts About Depression and Anxiety
By Barbara Fane, LCSW, BCD
Anxiety and depression very rarely occur in isolation. Often people will have some symptoms of both conditions.
When people come to counseling they may no longer feel comfortable talking about their experience with others. They may feel like no one understands what they are going through and as a result they feel totally alone. The good news is both anxiety and depression are highly treatable. You can feel better again.
What is Depression?
Feeling sad is a normal reaction to loss or pain. However, when the sadness gets overwhelming and persists it can bring your life to a complete standstill. Struggling with symptoms of depression can sap the joy out of life and make us feel sad, hopeless, and alone.
We all experience difficult times in our lives, when we feel stuck, depressed, or anxious. The stumbling blocks we are facing are too difficult to deal with.
But when feelings of intense sadness, helplessness, and worthlessness last past weeks into months you could be dealing with more than normal unhappiness.
Signs of depression include:
- difficulty concentrating, remembering details, and making decisions
- fatigue and decreased energy
- feelings of guilt, worthlessness, and/or helplessness
- feelings of hopelessness and/or pessimism
- insomnia, early morning wakefulness, or excessive sleeping
- irritability, restlessness
- loss of interest in pleasurable activities or hobbies, including sex
- no pleasure left in life any more
- overeating or appetite loss
- chronic aches or pains, headaches, cramps, or digestive problems
- persistent sad, anxious, or “empty” feeling
- thoughts of suicide, suicide attempts
These symptoms are often experienced as feeling as though you are walking through a thick fog. You feel negative about yourself, your friends and family, your life, and your future. You may feel like your situation is overwhelming or hopeless. Things might seem disappointing, uninteresting, or without meaning.
Depression, even severe depression, can be triggered by a major life event such as loss or injury or the birth of a child, or by a more subtle shift in circumstances such as the recall of a previously repressed, painful memory. Depression can lead to isolation, social conflict, substance abuse, and physical distress.
Depression sometimes occurs because of external events such as:
- loss of a relationship
- loss of a job
- death of a loved one
- child moving out
- any kind of major life change
In therapy we will work to fully understand the sources of your depressed feelings. Together we will look at the things in your life that you can or can’t control and begin to build resources and skills to problem solve those areas.
What is Anxiety?
Feeling scared about something we perceive as dangerous, or feeling nervous, uncertain, and worried about expecting something to go wrong are normal responses to Anxiety.
All of us feel anxiety sometimes. We might have anxiety because we feel out of control about a situation, have to make a very important decision, need to change our lives in major ways, have to present ourselves in new ways, or have experienced a trauma.
A person who suffers from anxiety has a constant anticipation that something bad will happen. Anxiety creates profound distress which is usually is not responsive to our own attempts to calm down.
When anxiety becomes severe, it can lead to panic attacks in which a person suffers palpitations, sweating, phobias, and a real, terrifying fear of dying. Many things can trigger the kind of anxiousness that requires therapy, including trauma, abuse, and other serious medical conditions.
Symptoms of anxiety can include:
- Thinking the same thoughts over and over
- Having excessive fears
- Being unable to sleep at night because your brain won’t turn off
- Having panic attacks
Anxiety can take over your life. You may be unable to do things that you could previously do. You may not be able to experience any pleasure in the present because you are constantly worried about the future or obsessing about something that happened in the past.
How Counseling with Barbara Fane Helps
In counseling, I help clients reconnect with your strength, energy, joy, and hope. We will work together to diminish past pain, increase fulfillment in the present and enable you to approach the future. You will learn how to confront the negative thoughts that are running through your head. You can learn some mindfulness techniques that allow you to fight back against the anxiety and depression. You will have the space to experience your feelings without someone acting like you are crazy or you should just move on.
You are not a weak person and will not be treated as one.
Together we will focus on you rediscovering your resilience, hope, and meaning. I will be an active participant on your journey of change. You can get past anxiety and depression and lead a calmer life.
Nothing improves by trying to wait it out.
About the Author:
Barbara Fane, LCSW, BCD is a licensed psychotherapist with a private practice in Shrewsbury, Monmouth County NJ. She has been providing affirmative, compassionate and individualized help to Individuals, Couples and Families since 1990.