First let me tell you, depression and anxiety are different - depression is its own mental illness and anxiety is its own mental illness. Can you have one without the other - yes. Can you have both - also yes. People often get them confused. But I’m going to clear a few things up for you so that if you have both depression and anxiety you know which is showing on your bad days and some techniques to help.
First, let's get the big D out of the way - Depression. This topic doesn’t have to be scary to talk about. I promise you I’m not being a hypocrite either by talking about these issues - I have depression too, I actually have Bipolar Depression, so it’s a little bit of a double whammy. So what does depression look like?
Some Common Symptoms:
Having a Sad or Depressed Mood
Low Energy Levels
Lack of Motivation
Feeling Hopeless or Worthless
Feeling Easily Overwhelmed
Thoughts of Suicide
If you have had some of the symptoms above, there is a chance you could have depression and you should reach out to your doctor. If you have been diagnosed with depression and it’s been managed with medication and/or therapy, that’s great, but if you’re like me we can still have those bad days. Those bad days can turn to worse days if my anxiety is also acting up along with it.
Anxiety can come in different levels from moderate to severe. Anxiety is different from depression in the way that it can sometimes be triggered and people can learn their triggers so that way they can avoid them or learn to deal with them. However, some people live with anxiety all throughout their day.
Some Common Symptoms:
Trouble Falling Asleep or Staying Asleep
Increased Heart Rate or Difficulty Breathing (often before or during panic attacks)
Irritability or Nervousness
Even though anxiety and depression have some of the same common symptoms they are not the same thing, although they are closely related. Both of them can cause you to lose sleep or lose focus throughout your day. Both of these can cause added stress which further increases your anxiety and depression. Another thing to watch out for is how a symptom from one can cause a symptom to the other. Your anxiety may lead you to self-isolation which can make you feel lonely, which can make you depressed. Low energy levels from depression can cause you to not be so productive which can cause you anxiety and stress. It is a domino effect, but you have to remember that good days will outnumber the bad.
Here are 3 techinques to help you on your bad days.
- When All Else Fails Turn to the Lord
When you are feeling alone and isolated, try to remember that God is always there watching over you, loving you for who you are.
"It is the Lord who goes before you. He will be with you; he will not leave you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed." - Deuteronomy 31:8 ESV
"I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world." - John 16:33 NIV
- Grounding Techniques
Grounding Techniques can help you when you are feeling anxious or having a panic attack or just having a really bad day. There are both physical and mental techniques and I am going to tell you a few that I personally use.
Slowly inhaling and exhaling, even thinking "in" and "out" while doing so
Savor a Scent
The best calming scent is lavender
5 things you hear, 4 things you see, 3 things you can touch from where you’re sitting, 2 things you can smell, 1 thing you can taste
Use an Anchor
This can be like naming all the places you’ve lived if you’ve moved around a lot, all the pets named you’ve had throughout your life, etc.
Imagine Yourself Leaving the Painful Feelings Behind
Whether that be you putting them in a box or figuratively running away from the painful feelings, etc.
- Reach Out to Someone
Never keep it bottled up inside. Talk to someone - whether it be a family member, a friend, or a therapist. When you are feeling sad, overwhelmed, or anxious, let someone know how you feel. And don’t be afraid to ask for help, you don’t have to do it all alone.
You are not alone in the world. You are not alone in your mental illness. Having depression and anxiety is a battle that needs to be fought everyday - but that's what makes you STRONG. If you or someone you know is ever starting to lose or give up on the battle please call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 800-273-8255. There will always be a friend there waiting to talk to you.