Disorders such as depression just plain suck, as anyone who has experienced life with such a disorder can attest. Additionally, such mental illnesses are incredibly common. In fact, to get an idea of just how common these disorders, let’s look at the U.S. Anxiety disorders are the most common mental illness in the U.S. according to the ADAA (Anxiety and Depression Association of America), and effect around 40 million adults 18 or older every year. That’s almost 20% of the total adult population. “But the U.S. is a high-stress culture, so of course Americans have anxiety. What about the rest of the world?” I hear you say. Well, the WHO (World Health Organization), states that 1 out of every 13 people are currently onset by an anxiety disorder such as depression. All this is to say, if you aren’t suffering from anxiety and depression, chances are, you know someone who is. Maybe some of your friends might be suffering from depression and you don't even know it.
But why is that important? Well, as I mentioned earlier, mental illness sucks. And the stigma against mental illnesses such as anxiety and depression is still alive and kicking. According to the ADAA, only 36.9% of U.S. adults suffering from anxiety disorders are receiving treatment, and depression is similarly under-treated. The number of people not receiving treatment for mental illnesses grows even larger in developing parts of the world. To understand how to handle anxiety and depression, we first have to dispel at least a few myths surrounding mental illness.
Myth Number One: Depression is Different than Anxiety
This is a little-known fact, but it is important to know before continuing: major depressive disorder is classified as an anxiety disorder. The same can be said of all other types of depression. When you hear people talking about anxiety disorders, they are in reality talking about a wide range of mental health disorders ranging from specific phobias such as arachnophobia, to social anxiety disorders, to depressive disorders.
Myth Number Two: Depression Happens for a Reason
Do you catch a cold for a reason? What about the flu? Just like any physical illness, anxiety disorders such as depression can occur spontaneously. Genetics, brain chemistry, a traumatic event like the death of a loved one or a bad breakup – all of these are just a few of the many things that can cause the onset of an anxiety disorder such as depression. You don’t need a reason’ for feeling depressed for your depression to be valid. Anxiety disorders can appear suddenly, and the best thing to do when experiencing symptoms of anxiety and depression is seek treatment as quickly as possible so that you can manage your anxiety and depression effectively.
Myth Number Three: Asking for Help Means You Are Weak
If you caught a bad flu, you would seek treatment and take some time off to deal with it. The same should apply to anxiety disorders such as depression – if you are suffering, please seek qualified help. Seeking the help of psychotherapy to cope with your anxiety and depression is not weak – it takes a strong person to admit that they need help.
Now that we’ve dispelled some of the myths surrounding anxiety and depression, let’s move on to treatment – namely, why you should seek psychotherapy if you are feeling anxious or depressed, and what types of treatment are the most effective. Firstly, let’s tackle why you should seek treatment. The obvious answer is, the longer you let an illness control your life, the worse it gets. If you walk on a broken leg without putting it in a cast, eventually you will destroy your leg. The same can be said of your mind – depression can escalate to suicide if it is not treated effectively, and in a timely manner.
Fortunately, in this day and age seeking treatment for anxiety and depression is easier than ever before. Websites such as BetterHelp.com or TalkSpace.com provide affordable online therapy with professional counselors. For those who suffer from minor depression, there are many apps available which help users maintain healthy habits and mindsets. Group therapy is also an option for the social among us. Finally, traditional one-on-one therapy is highly effective, and offers a wide-array of options, from cognitive-behavioral therapy to psychodynamic therapy, to help you cope with your anxiety disorder. Contact a mental health professional in your area, and see what type of treatment they recommend!
Lastly, if you are suffering from suicidal thoughts, you can call the Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255, or text the Crisis Text line at 741-741. Remember, anxiety and depression might be a part of your life, but that doesn’t mean they must control it. Be safe, be healthy, and be happy everyone. Thanks for reading.
Anxiety and Depression Association of America
World Health Organization
You might prevent or reduce depression or anxiety by doing physical activities -exercisee, sports or fitness.