Depression and Anxiety: Two Sides of the Same Coin

Posted by on June 22, 2015

Depression and Anxiety “I told the doctor I was overtired, anxiety-ridden, compulsively active, constantly depressed, with recurring fits of paranoia. Turns out I’m normal.” –Jules Feiffer We all know about depression and anxiety. If we have not experienced it ourselves, most of us know someone who has. We have all basically accepted depression and anxiety as a normal part of life. But, what if it’s not? What if there’s an alternative? Someone who is experiencing depressive symptoms is likely to identify themselves as having low energy or fatigue, insomnia or excessive sleeping, irritability, loss of interest in pleasurable activities, memory or concentration difficulties, overwhelming sadness, helplessness, and in extreme cases, suicidal thinking, just to name a few. Classic symptoms of anxiety are worry, fear, obsessive thinking, compulsive behaviors, insomnia, panic attacks, helplessness, and heart palpitations. Obviously, this is not a complete list of feelings and sensations a person may have when experiencing depression or anxiety, but they are some of the most common symptoms. Despite the fact that depression and anxiety have some different symptoms, they are two sides of the same coin. Depression and anxiety go hand in hand, and when a person is suffering from depression, they are likely to experience some anxious feelings and vice versa. Often depression and anxiety coincide with a life event. There may be an actual traumatic event or the depression/anxiety may be a response to a prolonged stressor in one’s life such as a difficult relationship, financial worries, or health concerns. The common theme is that these stressors lead us to feel powerless and helpless. This is uncomfortable. Often people try to cope with these stressors by distracting themselves with work, parenting, alcohol, prescription drugs, shopping, or through food in an attempt to avoid the uncomfortable feelings they are experiencing…and to avoid feelings of powerlessness. It is not uncommon to develop physical symptoms in response to our feelings about these stressors. Some people seek help and get on an antidepressant, which can help alleviate some of the symptoms of depression or anxiety. While this can be helpful, and sometimes necessary, it doesn’t address the root case of what the person is experiencing on a fundamental level. We all have feelings. Some of us are more comfortable expressing our feelings than others, but all of us know what it is like to feel happy or sad, for instance. Feelings in and of themselves are not good or bad, right or wrong, they just are. Feelings are there to tell us more about something. Fear is designed to warn us of potential danger, just as joy reminds us of the beautiful gifts life has to offer. Both of these feelings serve a purpose. They tell us more about what we are experiencing; they give us more insight and information. We have a tendency to label feelings as good or bad, positive or negative, instead of accepting them for what they are and how they serve us. We tend to avoid the “bad” or “negative” feelings, rather than embracing them and accepting what they are, and listening to what they are trying to tell us. We use many of the coping mechanisms listed above in order to avoid feeling sad, angry, lonely, or afraid. Often these feelings are indicating that something needs to change....

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The Baby Transition

Posted by on January 11, 2015

A Few Words for Couples Most of us know what a difficult transition it can be to have a baby, and it can be even more complicated if you or your partner is experiencing postpartum depression or anxiety. Whether this is your first child or not, the transition period after having a baby impacts your relationship with your partner. Try to keep in mind that the first months are the hardest, and once you find your rhythm, things get a little easier. I was recently talking to a friend of mine, going through her own struggles after the birth of her second child, when it occurred to me that I should write down some of my own observations after working for years with women and couples. Women tend to follow certain patterns as they adjust to life after having a baby, and men tend to follow certain patterns in reaction to their partner. The following paragraphs are just a few words to shed some light onto the new dynamic you and your partner may be experiencing. For the new father… I am sure it seems you have lost your wife for good! You may not recognize her or your new life together. She is probably a shadow of her former self. But things will get better and you will get your wife back. There are some things to understand about this. First, the more you try to talk her out of her feelings or get her to see things in a rational way, the worse she gets. Even though it seems counter-intuitive, she is feeling completely overwhelmed which is an emotional response to the situation and it cannot be intellectualized or dealt with logically. You must appeal to her emotions. That means, when she is upset the best thing you can do is reassure her that you are there and willing to help in whatever capacity she needs. In addition, during this time women need lots and lots of reassurance. Even if you feel that you have already said something, say it again, and again. It won’t always be this way, but for now, her anxiety is probably through the roof, and the reassurance is comforting, even if it is only temporary. Realize that the depression/anxiety is a symptom that will go away at some point. The very best way to get it to go away is sleep. Women should only be put on medication after they have gotten enough sleep for many weeks following sleep deprivation. In order for the brain to replenish itself it needs 5 consecutive hours a night, plus some. Although this is not always possible, getting as close to that is ideal. Please be patient with her, remember that she is not in control of her moods. She does not want to feel this way either. This is not an easy road for either one of you, but remember, it will get better. For the new mother… I know it feels like you have lost your former life for good, and that things will forever feel overwhelming. To add to it, when you feel at odds with your husband, it just makes you feel even worse. You are probably too tired to try to deal with the situation. Trust me, it will get better....

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