Making even the simplest tasks feel impossible, depression is a mood disorder that affects over 250 million people worldwide. It often leaves men, women, and children feeling constantly worried, sad, and restless, with symptoms slowly escalating over time. It's also this steady increase in symptom severity that makes treatment paramount.
However, as is often the case with mood disorders, there isn't a one-size-fits-all approach to treatment. Instead, the best way to address depression differs depending on the type and the individual. Although persistent feelings of sadness and worry exist across all types of depression, healthcare professionals categorise the disorder under the following diagnoses: major depression, persistent depressive disorder (PDD), seasonal affective disorder (SAD), and bipolar disorder.
As for why depression occurs, and when—there isn't a clear answer. However, there are contributing factors such as genetic disposition, medication, age, life events, and trauma or abuse to consider. These causes can trigger an onset of depression, leading to some of the symptoms and diagnoses outlined above.
The negative impact of depression doesn't have to stop you from living the life you want. While it may be a complex mood disorder, there are dozens of possible treatments and coping techniques. Sometimes, simply speaking to others living with the condition can help you get a handle on symptoms. For more severe cases, therapy, antidepressants, and lifestyle changes can help keep depression at bay.
What remains essential, above all else, is not suffering in silence. Depression accentuates our worries and concerns. Whether it be a trained therapist or a friend, speaking to others helps you put those worries into perspective and realise they may not be as insurmountable as you first thought.
Although it doesn't always feel like it, stress is a crucial bodily response—without it, our prehistoric ancestors wouldn't have lasted longer than a day! Even now, in a world of social media, global pandemics, and intense work schedules, managing stress and its physiological impact remains just as important.
Stress is a broad term used to describe our body's reaction to pressure or tension, and forms a crucial part of our innate fight or flight response. In short bursts, stress raises our heart rate, increases focus, and combats fatigue. If you've ever needed to hit a deadline, or come across an uncomfortable social situation, you'll know the sensation all too well.
However, the problem with stress is it's only intended as a short-term fix. Our body cannot cope with the extended pressure stress puts on our physical and mental well-being. When stress becomes chronic, it manifests in various emotional, physical, cognitive, and behavioural symptoms. These symptoms may appear mild at first—low energy, aches and pains, difficulty relaxing—but left unchecked, stress can develop into addiction, a compromised immune system, and insomnia.
Although stress occurs often, it usually fades quickly—given the correct treatment and coping techniques. The effectiveness of these strategies varies depending on the severity of stress and the potential triggers. Still, with dozens of stress-management techniques to choose from, there's bound to be an approach that helps. Remember that no matter how you tackle stress, you cannot eliminate it entirely. Instead, it's about learning how you deal with stress, spotting the signs that stress is becoming chronic, and taking steps to keep it at a manageable level.
Feeling anxious, worried, or uneasy from time to time is a perfectly normal reaction. None of us feel comfortable or confident all the time! But when those feelings start to impact daily life or persist without an apparent cause, that's when anxiety may be more than just an expected reaction.
Anxiety disorders are much more nuanced than most people first assume. While feelings of anxiety and worry persist across all anxiety disorders, it is often the cause of anxiety that separates common disorders such as social anxiety disorder, health anxiety, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and body dysmorphic disorder. Of course, you may feel anxious all the time, a condition that's often diagnosed as general anxiety disorder (GAD).
However, just like other common mood disorders, there are lots of ways to tackle anxiety. There's no reason why day-to-day life, health problems, or childhood experiences have to define how we think or feel. Avoidance may help control physical symptoms in the short term, but it can also negatively impact the quality of life. Instead, positive thinking, addressing the source of anxiety, medication, and doing something you love can help combat anxiety's mental and physical symptoms.
The importance of addressing anxious feelings cannot be understated. Not only can symptoms become more severe over time, but, left to manifest, anxiety can quickly develop into several more disruptive mood disorders. It's also common for stress and anxiety to overlap, at least in terms of symptoms. But the two are distinct conditions, so it's essential you focus on specific coping techniques and talk with a doctor for an accurate diagnosis.
Take a closer look at the different types of anxiety, frequent symptoms, and various coping techniques in our extensive guide.