National Anxiety and Depression Awareness Week
May 4-10, 2014
By: Staci Lee Schnell, M.S., C.S., LMFT
More than 40 million Americans suffer from anxiety each year and over 20 million suffer from depression.
Most people feel anxious or down at times. Losing a loved one, financial difficulties, divorce, family illness or other difficult situations can lead one to feel sad, lonely, scared, nervous, or anxious. These feelings are normal reactions to life’s stressors and can be helped with brief therapy.
However, some people experience the above feelings almost every day for no apparent reason, making it difficult to carry on with normal, everyday life. These people may have an anxiety disorder, depression, or both.
It is not uncommon for someone with an anxiety disorder to suffer from depression as well. Almost half of those diagnosed with depression are also diagnosed with an anxiety disorder. The good news is that both of these disorders are very treatable and can be helped with appropriate professional care.
Success of treatment varies and must be tailored specifically for each individual. Many respond to treatment after a few sessions, while others may need more. Although treatment is individualized, the standard approach is therapy, medication, or both.
Depression is a condition in which a person feels discouraged, sad, hopeless, unmotivated, or disinterested in life. When these feelings last for a short period of time, it may simply be a case of feeling low or blue.
However, when these feelings last for more than two weeks and interfere with daily activities, it’s likely a major depressive episode and professional help is highly recommended.
Generalized anxiety disorder is characterized by persistent, excessive, and unrealistic worry about everyday life.
People with anxiety disorder, which can also be referred to as GAD, experience excessive worry and tension, expect the worst to occur, anticipate disaster and may be overly concerned about money, health, family, work, or other issues. GAD is diagnosed when symptoms are present for at least 6 months.
Anxiety can affect physical health. Exercise, a healthy diet, and adequate sleep are not only important to physical health but actually help manage anxiety. Learning anxiety-reducing techniques can help significantly as well.
Depression and anxiety disorders are different; however, symptoms can be similar. Common shared symptoms include nervousness, irritability, problems concentrating, and poor sleep.
Most people who seek treatment with a professional therapist experience significant improvement and begin to experience improved quality of life.