Anxiety and depression can feel very different and have unique characteristics for each person who is experiencing it. Many people who are experiencing anxiety and depression are not even aware. I have had many clients even attend the ER thinking there was something physically wrong with them, when in-fact, they were experiencing symptoms of anxiety.
Common symptoms of anxiety are: trouble concentrating, memory loss, procrastination, lack of patience, over thinking past events or interactions, needing reassurance, constant worrying, black or white thinking, avoidance, negative self-talk, and worst-case-scenario thoughts.
Some common physical symptoms of anxiety are: sweating, stomach issues, rapid heart beat, difficulty breathing, headaches, restlessness, tense muscles, feeling light headed, trembling, tight chest, loss of appetite, dizziness, dilated pupils, and poor balance.
People experiencing depression can become very good at portraying that they are doing OK, but in reality, they are really struggling.
Some common symptoms of depression are: feeling ‘down’ most of the time, guilt that doesn’t go away, the feeling that ‘nothing feels fun anymore’, changes in weight, aches and/or pains, over or under eating, poor memory, insomnia, anger and/or irritability, feeling worthless and/or hopeless, and thoughts of death or suicide.
Some quick tips to help reduce the symptoms of anxiety and depression are: ensuring you’re getting enough sleep, slowly counting to 10, exercising, limiting alcohol, learning your triggers, listening to your favourite song, watching a funny movie, spending time with those who bring you joy, talking to a close friend or family member, and seeking profession help.
If you are worried about someone in your life who may be experiencing symptoms of anxiety or depression, there are things you can do to help support him/her; when interacting, try to be positive, listen and acknowledge/validate their struggles, do not try to “fix” things or say “just be happy“, or “get over it“, take care of your own mental health, and encourage your friend or family member to seek professional support.
Anxiety and depression are very common. Although there is still a lot of stigma attached, it is normal to experience anxiety and depression from time to time. Life is hard, we cannot expect to be happy and positive all the time. All we can do is work towards feeling good as often as we can, and help others to feel the same way. The most important tip I can share is to be patient and kind to yourself and those around you.
Amy Shaw, MSW, RSW
B. Skinner Coaching & Psychotherapy