October is mental health awareness month, so this month on the blog we’ll be discussing depression and anxiety in a four-part series.
In this first post, I’ll share some of the basics about depression and anxiety. In the posts to come, we’ll discuss the root causes of depression and anxiety, therapies and practices for mental wellness, and the role spirituality can play in helping you maintain your mental health.
To start, let’s define depression and anxiety.
Depression is characterized by persistent feelings of sadness, hopelessness, or apathy that lasts two weeks or more and interferes with daily functioning.
This low mood can also be accompanied by the following symptoms:
- Loss of interest in activities that were once enjoyable
- Difficulty sleeping, sleep disturbances or sleeping excessively
- Fatigue and lack of energy
- Difficulty concentrating or making decisions
- Appetite and/or weight changes
- Physical pain, like headaches, stomach pain, and back pain
Did you know that the United States is the most depressed country with depression affecting more than 16 million American adults (1)?
If you suspect that you may be depressed, take this self-assessment test and discuss the results with your doctor or a licensed mental health practitioner.
Awareness is the first step to healing.
Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) is characterized by debilitating feelings of worry, fear, or apprehension.
Some other symptoms associated with anxiety disorders are:
- Persistent nervousness and/or irritability
- Feeling a sense of impending danger or panic
- Increased heart rate
- Difficulty concentrating
- Rapid breathing or hyperventilation
- Trouble sleeping
- Stomach pain or digestive issues
Generalized anxiety disorder affects more than 6 million American adults with women twice as likely to be affected than men (2).
If you suspect that you may have an anxiety disorder, take the self-assessment quiz here and discuss the results with your healthcare provider.
At least 70% of my patients come to me because they are struggling with anxiety and depression, finding it difficult to cope with the challenges of daily living. I have also struggled with depression and anxiety at different points in my life. This is why I believe it’s important for all of us to prioritize our mental health.
In the next post of this series, we’ll dig deeper into the topic of mental health and discuss potential root causes of anxiety and depression. In the meantime, take the time to assess your mental health using the resources shared in this blog post, and remember to care for your mind as much as you care for your body.
Disclaimer: In a crisis or having thoughts of suicide? Please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1.800.273.TALK (8255). It is a free, 24-hour hotline.