A Closer Look at Depression and Anxiety
Updated: Aug 23
Have you ever struggled with debilitating depression or anxiety or known someone who has? You are not alone. Mental illnesses are common in the United States. In 2020 an estimated 52.9 million adults aged 18 or older or about one in five adults have some form of mental illness. Mental illnesses include many different conditions that vary in degree of severity, ranging from mild to moderate to severe. Two of the more frequently occurring are depression and anxiety. From August 2020 to February 2021, the percentage of adults with recent symptoms of anxiety or depressive disorders increased from 36.4% to 41.5%.
So what is depression? Depression is a normal response to any bad news, tragedy, loss, or death. Depression is marked by sadness or grief. You may experience circumstantial depression but normally will eventually process your sadness and grief and return to your regular mood. This kind of depression is difficult when you experience it but does not significantly disturb your life.
Clinical depression is more significant and can disrupt your personal life, your relationships, your education, your recreation, and your work. What does clinical depression look like? It is different for each person, but some signs and symptoms are common, including:
Thoughts of death or suicide, or suicide attempts
Persistent sad or “empty” moods
Feelings of hopelessness or pessimism
Feelings of guilt, worthlessness, or helplessness
Loss of interest or pleasure in hobbies and activities
Decreased energy or fatigue
Moving or talking more slowly
Feeling restless or having trouble sitting still
Difficulty concentrating, remembering, or making decisions
Difficulty sleeping, early-morning awakening, or oversleeping
Appetite and/or weight changes
And what about anxiety? As with depression, some anxiety is a normal and healthy response to situations in life calling for us to be alert, attentive, cautious, on guard, energized, or productive. This anxiety does not persist nor significantly unsettle our lives.
But clinical anxiety can totally derail us. Several types of anxiety disorders include generalized anxiety disorder, separation anxiety disorder, social anxiety disorder, and specific phobias. People with anxiety disorders find the anxiety often persistent and can worsen over time. Some of the most common signs and symptoms of anxiety include:
Excessive fear and worry
Cautious, avoidant behavior
Do you have these symptoms and realize it is affecting your life in substantial ways? Do you know someone struggling with depression or anxiety? What can you do? Talk to someone. Seek some help. Find a licensed counselor or psychologist. They provide a safe, confidential, accepting, and supportive environment enabling you to discuss your concerns. You will participate in therapy designed to alleviate symptoms and provide a path to a positive and healthy mental outlook on the way you see yourself, others, the world, and God. They may also refer you to a psychiatrist, nurse practitioner, or physician assistant trained in psychotropic medication and treatment for a medication evaluation. Research has concluded the most successful outcomes result from the combination of medication and therapy. You don’t have to suffer the damaging effects of depression or anxiety. Mental health professionals are rigorously educated and trained to provide excellent mental health care.
Michael P. Groves, MA, NCC, LPC