Anxiety affects us all at different points in our lives. Typically, we feel anxious when we are faced with something stressful or frightening like a first date or a public speech. These feelings are normal. Anxiety commonly manifests itself in physical symptoms such as chest pain, headaches, and involuntary trembling.
However, anxiety should not affect your ability to work, study or maintain relationships. If these symptoms persist throughout the events of everyday life and affect your ability to complete even the most mundane tasks, you could be suffering from an anxiety disorder.
The main differences between everyday anxiety and an anxiety disorder include:
Anxiety is a normal response to something that may take you out of your comfort zone or make you nervous, like public speaking or an upcoming test. However, if you’re feeling anxious most of the time and the source of the stress isn’t clear, you may be suffering from an anxiety disorder.
Anxiety causes an excessive emotional response that typically sets in a few hours prior to a date, a test or anything else that may cause it. For someone living with an anxiety disorder, that anxious feeling may set in several weeks before, and continue up until it’s over.
The inability to focus on work and important daily tasks can be a legitimate struggle for someone living with an anxiety disorder. Often times, the anxiety may hold them back from engaging in important responsibilities all-together.
Anxiety is a blanket term for many distinct disorders, including generalized anxiety disorder, panic disorder, social anxiety disorder, specific phobias, obsessive-compulsive disorder, acute stress disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder.
Depression in all of its forms makes a person feel as though they’re stuck in a hopeless situation they’re unable to escape from. It affects a person’s mood and vitality and can accompany anxiety disorders. According to the World Health Organization, 350 million people worldwide live with depression. That’s equivalent to 5% of the world’s population. It affects every person differently, and for that reason, it is a difficult mental illness to treat.
Depression is a common, but serious mood disorder. It has many clinical forms including persistent depressive disorder, perinatal depression, psychotic depression, seasonal affective disorder (SAD) and bipolar disorder.
It interferes with a person’s motivation and ability to be productive, active and/or social.
Symptoms of depression can range from mild to severe, including:
- Loss of interest in activities once enjoyed
- Loss of energy
- Sleeping too much/too little
- Weight gain/loss and appetite changes
- Trouble concentrating and making decisions
- Aches, pains, headaches, cramps and digestive problems
- Feeling worthless
- Thoughts of death and suicide
The more a person understands their depressive behaviour, the easier it is for them to make positive lifestyle changes to combat it. Even the most severe depression is treatable. Eating well, sleeping better and employing an exercise routine to keep motivated every day can help lift a person’s mood and loosen the hold of depression. Medications will help ease the psychological symptoms of the disorder, but medical treatment works best once one has already taken the steps toward a healthier lifestyle.
Trauma and PTSD
Frightening or traumatic events and situations are something no one should have to experience. But they can happen to anyone, and people react in many different ways. Sometimes, the event will trigger anxiety, insomnia or paranoia. These are all normal reactions. The feelings typically diminish over time, but post-traumatic stress disorder, on the other hand, lasts much longer. It can seriously disrupt a person’s life.
Psychological trauma is damage done to the human mind following and caused by a traumatic event or situation. Trauma is caused by a person’s inability to cope and manage the stress and emotions that were results of the event or experience. Common trauma-inducing experiences include:
- Sexual Assault
- Child Abuse or Maltreatment
- Domestic Violence
- War-Related Trauma
- Medical Trauma
- Traumatic Loss
- Natural Disasters
After traumatic events, people may develop extreme anxiety, anger, depression, paranoia and more. Those consistent symptoms in the long term may be referred to as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
People also may have ongoing problems with insomnia or physical pain associated with traumatic events. Often, people suffering from trauma struggle to maintain their self-esteem and personal relationships. There are healthy ways of coping with trauma both in and out of treatment. Basic self-care and healthy habits like a balanced diet, regular exercise and sufficient sleep help to accompany treatments and therapies and encourage full recovery from trauma and PTSD.