Anxiety and depression are two separate conditions, but many people find that they develop simultaneously. Some of their causes and symptoms are very similar, so it can sometimes be hard to distinguish between the two. These conditions can be a result of hormonal fluctuations, external stresses, lifestyle, genetics, or a combination of these. Because they can be so distressing to live with, it is important to develop coping strategies for anxiety attacks and depression.
What Are Anxiety Attacks and Depression?
Depression is a lingering feeling of sadness and hopelessness, which can occur for no obvious reason. The condition might make daily life seem unbearable, and even the simplest of tasks can exhaust the sufferer. Symptoms include:
- Fatigue or loss of energy
- Feelings of worthlessness
- Difficulty concentrating
Anxiety attacks are defined as the abrupt onset of intense fear. They normally only last for a few minutes, but can nevertheless be terrifying for the sufferer. The symptoms often mimic a heart attack or a breathing disorder, which gives people the false impression that they have a life-threatening condition. When people experience anxiety attacks repeatedly, they are said to suffer from anxiety disorder. Symptoms include:
- Irregular heartbeat
- Excessive sweating
- Feeling of imminent danger
Surviving Anxiety and Depression
Follow these tips as you attempt to begin overcoming anxiety and depression:
Get enough sleep
Not getting enough sleep can cause illogical thoughts, which can exaggerate depression or negativity, leading to anxiety attacks. To promote healthy sleeping patterns, it is important to make your bedroom cool, dark, and quiet, and to go to bed at roughly the same time every night.
Exercise elevates mood by encouraging the release of serotonin and endorphins, the natural feel-good neurotransmitters. The recommended amount is around two and a half hours per week. Regular exercise will increase mood in the long-term, and this will reduce depression and the intensity and frequency of anxiety attacks. Riding a bike, swimming, walking, or gardening are all useful ways to fight anxiety attacks and depression.
Take a herbal remedy
St. John's wort and valerian have been proven to reduce anxiety and elevate mood. With a better mood comes fewer anxiety attacks. St. John's wort is thought to work by prolonging the action of serotonin in the brain, and valerian contains substances that relax the mind and body.
Spending 10 - 15 minutes a day practicing relaxation exercises is invaluable in the fight against depression and anxiety attacks. This is due to an increased sense of well-being and a decrease in blood pressure in response to the relaxation state. Rhythmic breathing decreases the pulse and respiration rate, which serves to reduce the frequency of anxiety attacks.
Slowly inhale and then exhale, all the while paying attention to the body's natural relaxation response. Breathe as deeply as possible. The action of focusing on your body's relaxation should deepen the relaxed feelings.
Learning simple techniques to invite positivity into your life is half the battle to beating depression and anxiety attacks. Some people just have one of the conditions, but many have both. Fortunately, as they both have similar causes and many of the same symptoms, it is possible in this case to kill two birds with one stone.
- Anxiety and Depression Association of America. (2014). Symptoms. Retrieved August 29, 2014, fromhttp://www.adaa.org/understanding-anxiety/panic-disorder-agoraphobia/symptoms
- Anxiety UK. (n.d.). Guide to herbal medicines. Retrieved August 29, 2014, from https://www.anxietyuk.org.uk/get-help/get-help-3/guide-to-herbal-medicine
- Anxiety UK. (n.d.). Physical exercise & anxiety. Retrieved August 29, 2014, fromhttps://www.anxietyuk.org.uk/get-help/get-help-3/physical-exercise-and-anxiety
- National Health Service UK. (2014). Clinical depression. Retrieved August 29, 2014, from http://www.nhs.uk/Conditions/Depression/Pages/Introduction.aspx
- National Health Service UK. (2013). What is a panic attack? Retrieved August 29, 2014, from http://www.nhs.uk/conditions/stress-anxiety-depression/pages/understanding-panic-attacks.aspx
- National Institute of Mental Health. (n.d). What is Anxiety Disorder? Retrieved August 29, 2014, from http://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/anxiety-disorders/index.shtml
- University of Maryland Medical Center. (2013). Depression. Retrieved August 29, 2014, from http://umm.edu/health/medical/altmed/condition/depression