Depression and anxiety usually occur together. Almost everyone has experienced this condition in their daily life. If the symptoms are severe enough to interfere with your regular activities, seek treatment immediately. If you experience anxiety and depression that are severe enough to change your daily life as well, seek help from someone who is an expert in this area. But if you have mild anxiety and depression, there are ways to deal with these problems.
Part 1 of 4: Changing Your Lifestyle
Step 1. Get in the habit of exercising regularly
Regular exercise habits can not only reduce the tendency to get heart disease or other diseases, but it has also been proven to be able to overcome anxiety and depression. There are several reasons that support this. First, by exercising, our bodies will release endorphins, which are chemical compounds produced by the brain to improve mood. The second reason, exercise habits will also reduce the production of immune hormones that in certain levels can cause depression. In addition, the increase in body temperature due to exercise will have a relaxing effect.
- Regular exercise can also help you lose weight and improve your appearance. For many people, this is enough to help them get rid of their insecurities.
- Endorphin hormones play an important role in preventing the emergence of a stress response in our body so that it can reduce the risk of anxiety or panic symptoms in everyday life.
- Several studies have shown that exercise can reduce symptoms of depression and anxiety as well as the benefits provided by medication. Even just 10 minutes of physical exercise can relieve symptoms of anxiety and depression just as much as 45 minutes of exercise.
- Exercise can reduce anxiety triggers or reduce the level of tension caused by anxiety that you experience on a daily basis. If the routine activities that you do tend to cause high anxiety symptoms, exercise can reduce levels or reduce the severity of anxiety symptoms that you experience.
Step 2. Reduce alcohol consumption
People who experience anxiety tend to use alcohol to relieve their tension and anxiety. For a while, alcohol may reduce these symptoms, but in the long run, this habit will only make the problem worse. According to dietary guidelines in force in the US, women should not drink more than 1 unit (10 ml of pure alcohol) per day and men should not drink more than 2 units per day. As a depressant, alcohol can suppress anxiety or tension for a while, but if it has undergone a metabolic process and is removed by the body, anxiety and depression will appear again.
It's the same with a spring that's kept pressed, your emotions will be further suppressed by alcohol. When the alcohol is gone, your emotions will surge much stronger than before. With this emotional spike, you will experience even greater anxiety the next day or become more susceptible to stress
Step 3. Switch to decaffeinated coffee
The high levels of caffeine in coffee can also exacerbate short-term and long-term symptoms of anxiety. Caffeine is a stimulant that makes your body and nervous system tense and active, which can make or increase the depression and anxiety you experience on a daily basis.
- By limiting caffeine consumption, you can control your physical responses and prevent anxiety throughout the day. Try switching to decaffeinated coffee or tea.
- There are certain types of tea such as green tea that still contain caffeine, but the effect is not the same as coffee.
Step 4. Reduce or eliminate the habit of consuming nicotine
Like caffeine, nicotine is also a stimulant and can affect the body just like any other stimulant, such as causing anxiety. Nicotine is in products made from tobacco and in other products such as nicotine gum.
Realize that quitting smoking is a challenging task and should be done under stress-free conditions. However, this effort will be very beneficial for reducing symptoms of anxiety and depression
Step 5. Try to stay active
In addition to affecting mood, depression is an unpleasant experience that is extremely energy-draining and demotivating. If you're depressed, you may find it difficult to focus or you may want to sleep through the day. Anxiety can also arise if you don't know what to do. Try to do as many routines as possible and don't let your feelings dictate what you have to do and get done.
If you haven't been too busy all this time, it will be very beneficial if you start looking for activities to keep yourself busy. Make a schedule of activities so you can stay active throughout the day but don't overdo it. Adhere to the schedule so that you are always active in living your daily life
Part 2 of 4: Changing Your Perspective
Step 1. Learn how to live in the moment
If you are experiencing anxiety, it may be because you are worried, unsure, or anxious about tomorrow. If you're depressed, it may be because you're still living in the past, constantly thinking about what went wrong, or thinking about things that hit you hard. The ability to appreciate life in the present can have a tremendous impact on your life. Although not easy, this method will enable you to separate thoughts and feelings.
- The best way to stop living in the past or obsessing over the future is to observe how these thoughts appear in your daily life. When a thought occurs, acknowledge it, label it a thought, and let it go.
- Focus your attention on the current situation and what you need to do. Pay attention to the people around you and how you feel when you do activities together. This way, you can get rid of the past and focus on the present. Keep trying until you can experience peace of mind.
Step 2. Try meditating
Regular meditation has been shown to relieve symptoms of stress and anxiety. Peace of mind can also make you feel more connected to other people, better able to control your emotions, and can see situations in a new light. It's a good idea to join a meditation group in your neighborhood. Many training centers teach meditation for free and hold weekly activities that are open to the public.
Start practicing calming your mind and meditating every day by taking a few moments to close your eyes, relax your whole body, and focus your full attention on your breathing. If a thought comes up, admit it and let it go. The more you practice, the easier it will be for you to experience peace of mind in your daily life
Step 3. Stop self-criticism
Inner self-criticism is self-deprecating or exaggerating thoughts that exacerbate your depression and anxiety. Your inner critic might say "I've failed" or "I can't do anything else and feel trapped." This criticism may also be related to worry or anxiety-producing thoughts that create a snowball effect of worrying thoughts. This thought will make you unable to see your options, feel inadequate or helpless, and always feel worried, depressed, or anxious.
- Learn how to break the habit of self-criticism to lessen its impact on your outlook and mood. To break the habit of criticizing yourself, start by noticing unproductive thoughts, saying productive thoughts against them, or chanting a mantra that focuses on your strengths.
- If you think "I can't do anything else and feel trapped", try to prove whether this thought is true. Write down all the other options that are still available. Change your inner critic by saying “Even though this choice is not the best, I still have other options and I will do _________ because _______”.
- If you have thoughts that trigger worry, fear, or other symptoms of anxiety, you should be prepared to counter this criticism by making self-assured statements or sentences such as “I know that the chances of this happening are very small. So, there's nothing for me to worry about” or “Everything will be fine, now I'm fine and this feeling will pass”.
Step 4. Deal with painful memories
Many people experience depression or anxiety because they are still carrying one or more traumatic experiences from the past, have lost a loved one, or think they are going through a major change. While it can be very difficult to erase these memories and deal with these experiences, there are ways to reduce these thoughts in your daily life.
- Feel the sadness, if necessary. If you want to cry or scream, just do it. Catharsis is an important aspect of the healing process. Try to find a group in your community that can provide support when you are sad. Remember that grief is a natural process and will involve a variety of other emotions. There may be times when you will feel bad for yourself. However, if you experience prolonged sadness after the loss of a loved one, contact a therapist or counselor who specializes in mental health.
- Write down what happened and how you felt. There are a variety of feelings associated with a traumatic event that usually have to be expressed in order to be healed. Traumatic events often have to be recounted and feelings that have arisen from these events should be ignored, but this can lead to anxiety and depression. You can use another way, namely by writing what actually happened clearly and in detail. Also write down what you have and still feel because of the incident. In this way, you will be able to overcome traumatic experiences in the past and move on with your life.
Step 5. Reveal the problem that is weighing on your mind
If you are experiencing depression and anxiety or are trying to recover from a trauma, explain what happened and how you feel. It's better to bring up a problem than to suppress it, either in writing or talking to someone you trust. Also think about aspects that have to do with this traumatic event, such as the weather at the time or who was there. This can help you express negative things about the experience.
If you are experiencing problems because of memories of a past traumatic experience, seek help from a professional to deal with the emotional pain caused by the trauma
Part 3 of 4: Facing the Current Situation
Step 1. Deal with anxiety and depression in the present
Anxiety can take over your life and make you feel like you're losing control. Symptoms of depression vary depending on the type of depression you have. For some people, symptoms of depression appear in the form of deep sadness, but there are also those who feel absolutely nothing or numbness and there are also people who suddenly feel angry. You can apply several techniques to relax and calm your body and mind so you can deal with anxiety and depression in this moment.
Step 2. Try progressive muscle relaxation
Progressive muscle relaxation technique is a method to reduce muscle tension by giving signals to the brain to calm down. The trick is to tighten, hold, and then relax certain muscle groups throughout the body without breaking. Start with your head toward your toes, trying to focus on the sensations you feel when you relax a muscle contraction and relieve muscle tension.
Start with the facial muscles by tightening them for six seconds and then relaxing them for six seconds. Repeat this all over your body for your neck, chest, arms, palms, legs, calves, and soles of your feet
Step 3. Perform diaphragmatic breathing exercises
Controlled breathing or diaphragmatic breathing is another way to send signals to your body to initiate relaxation and calm the stress response that usually stems from anxiety. Controlled breathing will send a signal to the brain to release neurotransmitters that tell your body that the current condition is not dangerous and can return to calm. Diaphragmatic breathing exercises are done by taking deep breaths so that the abdominal muscles expand, hold your breath, then release while exhaling.
Inhale for five seconds, hold for five seconds, then exhale for five seconds. Breathe again as usual for two rounds, then repeat this belly breath again until your anxiety subsides
Step 4. Divert your attention
Distractions are temporary ways of dealing with depression and anxiety that you can use in certain situations, such as at work. You can distract yourself by keeping yourself busy. If you're at work, have a friend chat about a cute cat video or tidy up the stationery drawer. If you're hanging out with your kids or grandkids at home and you can't control your emotions at the time, take them for a walk around the house or read a book together.
- You can also distract yourself by doing small activities. Try doing easy math problems by rote, folding paper into different shapes, or making funny pictures. You can also do crosswords or Sudoku.
- To quickly distract yourself when you feel controlled by your emotions, try squeezing a rubber ball or grasping a small piece of ice.
Part 4 of 4: Using Professional Help
Step 1. Find the right therapist
Try to find information and see several doctors before you make a decision. At the first appointment, the doctor will usually ask for an explanation of the symptoms you have experienced, how long it has been, and stories about your past. It's a good idea to prepare answers to these questions before the first meeting so that you are calmer and can provide clear information, if necessary.
Step 2. See a psychiatrist
You can consult a psychiatrist, which is a doctor with a bachelor's degree in medical science and licensed to write prescription drugs. Psychiatrists usually combine therapy with talking and medication or maybe just one or the other. There are several types of antidepressants that can be prescribed to treat anxiety, such as Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRIs), Serotonin Norepinephrine Reuptake Inhibitors (SNRIs), and tricyclics.
There are various drugs that fall into this category, so you should consult a doctor or psychiatrist in order to get the most appropriate medication
Step 3. Consult a psychologist
You can also consult with a psychologist, who is a graduate in the field of psychiatry whose focus is on doing cognitive behavioral therapy by talking. In some US states, psychologists are not allowed to prescribe drugs. This regulation also applies in Indonesia. However, there are some states in the US that allow psychologists to prescribe drugs, such as New Mexico, Louisiana, and Illinois.
- If you are not yet eighteen years old, talk to your parents about your condition if they are not aware of it and ask them to find the right doctor for you.
- There are patients who want to undergo therapy by taking medication, while others prefer the natural way. Explain to the therapist what you want from the start so you can determine if this therapy is right for you. Know that every doctor / psychiatrist / therapist has a different way of treatment from one another.
Step 4. Find another therapist
If you can't find a suitable psychologist or psychiatrist, there are other professional therapists in the mental health field who can help you deal with depression and anxiety. You can find licensed clinical social workers, marriage and family therapists, and licensed professional counselors in your area. They have received training and education in mental health and can help you with this problem.
Step 5. Get in the habit of seeking comparative opinions
In the field of treating psychological disorders, there may be a misdiagnosis or a second misdiagnosis. It's also a good idea to consult with another doctor, at least at the beginning, especially if you have already received a prescription.
- Don't let your doctor force you to take medication. If you prefer natural therapy, stick with it and tell your doctor. Just find another doctor if he insists on prescribing you medicine.
- If multiple doctors are prescribing the same medication, you should consider trying it. This treatment can usually be discontinued after one year without any adverse side effects.
Step 6. Make an earnest effort in undergoing treatment
You can't afford a professional therapist to solve your problem. Each therapy session should be conducted independently by being actively involved, honest, and willing to explain the problem to the doctor openly. Cognitive behavioral therapy, which is a form of talking therapy, has been shown to be the best way to deal with anxiety and depression. But in this method, you must have a strong commitment and willing to work together than in the usual individual therapy. Instead of just telling a problem, cognitive behavioral therapy requires you to actively participate so that the therapy that is carried out can be successful and bring you healing.
Try doing new things and leaving your comfort zone. Some doctors assign tasks to their patients to perform "exercise" in everyday life
Step 7. Give your treatment a chance to work
Sometimes depression and anxiety arise situationally, for example, because there is a big change. In addition, this problem sometimes arises due to biological factors and can be cured with medication. If you have a prescription for medicine, try taking it first and don't stop too quickly. Sometimes, you and your doctor will need to experiment until you find the most appropriate medication and dosage for your condition. Be patient and give yourself enough time.
You have to be patient because in general the effects of new treatment are seen within four to eight weeks
Step 8. Know about the term comorbidity in medicine
Comorbidity is the possibility of another disease experienced by a person. Comorbidity between depression and anxiety is considered a common condition and many psychiatrists assume so until proven otherwise. This is common because for patients, their subjective circumstances or experiences at the time of experiencing symptoms of depression and anxiety are often inseparable. They also can't tell the difference between these two problems.
- Because symptoms of depression and anxiety usually overlap, it can be very difficult to determine what problem is causing a particular symptom. In fact, about 85% of depressed patients experience symptoms of anxiety and about 90% of anxiety sufferers experience depression.
- Comorbidity in any condition will usually complicate treatment and give a less positive result. This also applies to the comorbidity between anxiety and depression. In this case, the main factor that can improve treatment outcomes is the recognition of comorbidities.
- Many symptoms overlap, depending on your diagnosis of depression and anxiety. For example, the habit of remembering negative experiences that lead to depression is common in major depressive disorder (clinical depression) as well as obsessive worry that occurs in generalized anxiety disorder. Disturbed sleep patterns, sleeplessness, and difficulty concentrating are common in both major depressive disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder.