Anxiety, depression, or both?
Anxiety, depression, and many other feelings are nowadays much more a part of common language. We have also thankfully moved away from the nonsense of not talking about our psychological health and feelings. It is as important as physical health, and there is even a scientifically proven correlation with our physical health.
As you would see a doctor if you felt physically unwell or not right, seeing a therapist is the psychological and emotional equivalent.
So what are these terms, who gets affected, and what can you do about it if these descriptions resonate with you?
Well, let's break it down simply without going into much psycho-babble. Anxiety is a future prediction; it is where we believe something will happen that we do not possess the resources to deal with. We feel unable to handle what we think is coming up in the future.
This 'lacking' could be financial (e.g. 'my car keeps breaking down, if it happens again I can't afford it!'), skills-based ('if that happens I have no idea what to do, I do not have the skills/knowledge to deal with that situation'), or, finally, emotional ('so much stuff has happened recently, if one more thing happens I just can't cope!'). It can be any one of, or a combination of, all of these. Therapy helps by helping you to be mindful and live in the now, to work with where you are right now, not the possible, but the certain, and to be solution-focused, not problem-focused. Now, I promised to avoid psycho-babble and that sounds a little like it, so let me explain.
Solution-focused is where you go. What could happen? What can I do about it if it did? How can I handle not just the situation, but my emotional reaction to it? Remembering feeling rubbish, as far as I know, has never ever made anything better, so if we can change the way we feel by lowering the anxiety, we can get to a better solution. Now, you'll have to forgive me, and I'll put this as simply as I can, but I can't avoid psycho-babble all together.
When we are anxious, our amygdala, the walnut shaped part of our brain that is largely involved in the flight, fight or freeze response, goes into overdrive, and the pre-frontal cortex becomes less active. However, in modern life, you're not (I hope) in physical danger, and you're certainly unlikely to be running or hiding from a dangerous animal. We evolved this response for this reason, but modern living makes this a fairly useless and often unhelpful response. So why does therapy help with possible future problems? Well, if we reduce the fight, flight, freeze response, that pre-frontal cortex becomes more active. That part of your brain is responsible for memory retention, planning and problem solving, so it's exactly the part we need to make the most of!
So no matter if that future worry is financial, skill-based or emotionally-based, using therapy to maximise our potential and get that pre-frontal cortex fired up and on our case is exactly what we need. That's where the therapist comes in.
Now I also said about depression. Depression is different - it is not a prediction of what could happen, but is actually an emotional state from what has happened. Grieving was originally automatically classed as depression and, though clinically that has changed, it shares the vast majority of the markers for a depression diagnosis.
Depression is where we feel unable to cope with what has already happened, emotionally stuck in the past, and, like anxiety, missing some kind of resources to move forward in our life. It's also rather cruel, as part of it takes our drive away to be able to make those effective changes in our life, making some people feel frozen or trapped in a depressive state. Therapy helps by empowering you, by reducing that depressive feeling, so again you can empower yourself to utilise your own powerful resources to accept what has happened in the past, that we cannot change the past, but we can change how we feel and respond to it now, and we can make it so it doesn't ruin our present and our future. Common signs of depression are feeling low, lacking energy, feeling sleepy without being able to sleep, feeling teary, even feeling angry or upset, sometimes with no clear reason why.
When people have both, this can be like a horrible shift back and forth, from the agitation and energy of anxiety to the energy draining and inaction of depression, and back again. It's like a horrible game of tag, where both of the players are unpleasant.
A therapist could help you - there is hope
So, if this resonates with you, use the Hypnotherapy Directory to find your local therapist and make those positive changes in your life.
Remember you are not an afterthought - you are the only you that you have. Invest in yourself - you are more important than clothes, a night out or a hair cut. At best, things like this will only make you feel a little better about yourself for a few hours, maybe the rest of the day if you're lucky, but making real meaningful changes for yourself can be long-lasting.