Depression & Anxiety
The World Health Organization recently released new data showing that depression and anxiety have significantly increased among adults and even children between 2019 and 2020. That doesn’t surprise any of us, right?
Given the many challenges we all experienced in 2020, it’s no wonder that reported cases of depression and anxiety have tripled in the U.S. among adults. And why they have significantly increased even among minors. Health concerns, job loss, financial strain, balancing work and child care, and in some cases even the death of a loved one, were some of the many things that we were forced to navigate at a heightened level since March of 2020.
That year stretched many of us to our breaking point and we are still adjusting to this “new normal.” So where does that leave individuals who are experiencing the often crippling symptoms of depression and anxiety? While medication is certainly an option to help manage these symptoms (especially in some cases where a chemical imbalance in the brain is present), we shouldn’t stop there and consider the problem “fixed.”
Because here’s a thought: What if your depression and/or anxiety actually has the potential to be used as a tool to achieve better health, personal growth and healing? What if instead of trying to avoid the uncomfortable feelings of anxiety and depression, we instead see them as helpful messengers who are trying to point out some significant, underlying concerns that need to be addressed?
The Silver Lining of Depression & Anxiety
Anyone in the depths of anxiety or the darkness of depression will probably have a difficult time finding anything positive about their current mental state. However, within these symptoms lies great opportunity. While it’s completely natural to want the intense emotions and feelings of depression and anxiety to be relieved, sometimes we focus too much on treating the symptoms and not enough on the root cause. True healing can only be achieved if the person is willing to recognize and address the underlying issues head on.
Again, this is not to say that medication and tools to reduce the symptoms and feelings of anxiety and depression shouldn’t be used. In fact, sometimes it’s entirely necessary to use medication, counseling and self-care. These can stabilize the mood enough to even have the mental clarity and strength to further address the deeper issues. However, we shouldn’t stop there in our treatment of it.
Understanding Your Depression & Anxiety
It can be helpful to understand what depression and anxiety are. Understanding some of the general root causes can also be helpful.
In simple terms, anxiety is how your body reacts to stress. And, it can present with both physical and psychological features. Anxiety is your normal, built-in, biological mechanism to put your body on high alert and it prepares you to fight a perceived crisis. However, if it becomes chronic, anxiety can become detrimental and can damage both your mental and physical health.
Depression is a common and sometimes serious medical illness that negatively affects how you feel, the way you think and how you act. Depression causes feelings of sadness and/or a loss of interest in activities you once enjoyed. It can lead to a variety of emotional and physical problems and can decrease your ability to function at work and at home.
Anxiety and depression triggers can be very individualized, but generally speaking, these are some of the most common stressors linked to both:
Starting a new job or changing schools
Job dissatisfaction, overwhelm, or misalignment
Toxic workplace relationships
Difficult family or romantic relationships
Having an injury or illness
Having a friend or family member who is injured or ill
The death of a family member or friend
Getting married or going through a divorce
Having a baby
Any other significant or traumatic life event
Opportunities Your Depression & Anxiety Are Offering You
Knowing where your depression and anxiety symptoms may be stemming from gives you an opportunity to develop a deeper understanding of yourself. It can also give you an opportunity for healing and personal growth.
Approaching your depression and anxiety from a place of empathy and gentleness towards yourself is key. While it’s entirely understandable as to why those experiencing the sometimes debilitating symptoms and effects of depression and anxiety on their daily lives are eager to find relief, it’s worth taking the time to do some introspection.
Shifting your mindset from “I want to stop feeling this way” to “what is my depression and anxiety trying to tell me?” is admittedly a challenging one. However, engaging with the associated emotions and feelings, as well as addressing the root causes, will lead to deeper, long-term healing and reduce and eventually eliminate the symptoms even without the support of medication.
Q&A with Your Depression & Anxiety
An effective approach to unearthing the underlying root causes of your depression and anxiety and a tool to begin to resolving them is to ask your depression or anxiety a series of questions. This act of acknowledging and sitting with the uncomfortable feelings alone has tremendous opportunity for healing. It can strip the depression and anxiety of it’s hold. When you are no longer scared of something, that “thing” loses it’s power. Take the time to “interview” your depression or anxiety and allow yourself to truthfully and mindfully answer.
What is your depression and/or anxiety trying to tell you about the following…
Are there areas of your life that are out of balance?
What do you need to say “no” to more often?
What do you need to say “yes” to more often?
Where do you need to start setting healthier boundaries for yourself?
Do you need to offer others or even yourself forgiveness?
Are there past hurts that you need to let go of?
Are there past traumas from which you need healing?
Taking this time to slow down to honestly examine your current state and priorities, while fostering self-connection, can have tremendous healing and personal growth benefits to those struggling with depression and anxiety. Allowing yourself to feel your emotions, to be curious and to focus on what you can change has the ability to improve your mental, emotional and even physical wellbeing into a far better state.
Additional Support through Health Coaching
Asking for help is never of sign of weakness. You wouldn’t hesitate or feel shame around receiving treatment for your physical health like a broken bone and it’s important to view your mental health in the same way.
A great resource and support for those struggling with depression and anxiety could be to work with a Health Coach. Health Coaches can help you engage the challenging emotions as opportunities, while offering guidance, support and accountability. Health Coaches can suggest techniques, tools, and strategies that can help you ease depression and anxiety specific to your goals and lifestyle, and can also work with you to identify what’s causing them in the first place. They can serve as objective observers who can identify challenges and blind spots that are preventing change and therefore be a tremendous asset to those struggling with depression and anxiety.
Curious to learn more about the benefits of working with a Health Coach?
Emily Robinson, with Abide Health Coaching, offers FREE 30-minute consults in partnership with the Anchor Wellness Center. Here you have the opportunity ask any questions about the process and assess how health coaching may be beneficial to you. Book your FREE consult or first session online today!
About the author:
Emily Robinson is the founder of Abide Health Coaching. She is a certified Health Coach (CHC) and Yoga Therapist (CYT-500). Emily has worked with both private clients and in small groups; addressing specific health concerns such as: MS, cancer, alcohol addiction, eating disorders and Parkinson’s. She now specializes in working with clients who struggle with disordered eating and negative body image. Emily provides support for those who’ve completed treatment for an eating disorder who are reengaging in normal life; to help them maintain their recovery. She is partnered with the Anchor Wellness Center.