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How Do You Help Yourself When You Feel Depression And Anxiety? [#ReachOutThursday]

Posted: May 12, 2016

Facing depression and anxiety such that day to day life seems a big challenge to handle? Here are some thoughtful suggestions.

Every Thursday, the Women’s Web expert panel with the support of Healtheminds, answers questions from readers facing relationships issues, emotional and mental challenges and other such issues. You can ask a question too using this form. (Your name will never be revealed).

If you are feeling the need for support in a relationship, simply enter your details here to schedule a counselling session with Healtheminds.

You can also call up to speak to a counsellor at +91 95387 51113, or use this form below to have a counsellor reach out to you.

When life seems a drag

I have been suffering from depression since 2001. I could not recognise it at the earliest stage, and this affected my career and personal well-being. I have extreme levels of anxiety, which does not allow me to have fixed thoughts in any area. I have previously been on medication but withdrew abruptly.

Besides career and financial stress, I have also faced trouble in my marriage, find child rearing as a burden – I have a daughter who is 3 years old.

Depression drains your energy, hope, and drive, making it difficult to do what you need to feel better. But while overcoming depression isn’t quick or easy, it can be managed and dealt with. Know yourself as a person before depression and after depression. See and feel the changes that have occurred in you and accept them as they are. Don’t panic, you can overcome with some help.

Be aware of what’s going on with you, the severity of depression, the symptoms, the triggers, consequences etc., Consult your doctor (Psychiatrist) to know about the details of depression. Start on medications and do continue as its help your biological system to overcome depression. But, not medications alone would help you. There are certainly n number of things we can do to overcome depression, but to do and follow a routine which was exciting earlier may not be exciting now. I know it’s hard.

The key is to start small and build from there. Feeling better takes time, but you can get there if you make positive choices for yourself each day. Recovering from depression requires action, but taking action when you’re depressed is hard. In fact, just thinking about the things you should do to feel better, like going for a walk or spending time with friends, can be exhausting. The things that help the most are the things that are the most difficult to do. There’s a difference, however, between something that’s difficult and something that’s impossible.

There are some tips given below to manage the anxiety you are going through.

Manage the body

Eat right, Exercise, Ongoing self care, Sleep.

Breathe

Conscious Breathing will slow down or stop the stress response. Do the, conscious deep breathing for about 1 minute at a time, 10-15 times per day every time you are waiting for something e.g., the phone to ring, an appointment, the kettle to boil, waiting in a line etc.

Mindful Awareness

Close your eyes and breathe; noticing the body, how the intake of air feels, how the heart beats, what sensations you can feel in the gut etc

With eyes still closed, purposefully shift your awareness away from your body to everything you can hear or smell or feel through your skin

Shift awareness back and forth from your body to what’s going on around you.

Don’t listen when worry calls your name

To stop listening to the command to worry, you can say to yourself: “Its just my anxious brain firing wrong”. This is the cue to begin relaxation breathing which will stop the physical sensations of dread that trigger the radar.

Knowing, Not Showing, Anger

A simple technique: Next time you feel stricken with anxiety, you should sit down and write as many answers as possible to this question, “If I were angry, what might I be angry about?” Restrict answers to single words or brief phrases.

Have a Little Fun

Laughing is a great way to increase good feelings and discharge tension. Getting in touch with fun and play isn’t easy for the serious, tense worrier.

Turning it Off

If a ruminating brain is like an engine stuck in gear and overheating, then slowing or stopping it gives it a chance to cool off. The goal of ‘turning it off’ is to give the ruminative mind a chance to rest and calm down. Sit quietly with eyes closed and focus on an image of an open container ready to receive every issue on your mind. See and name each issue or worry and imagine putting it into the container. When no more issues come to mind, ‘put a lid’ on the container and place it on a shelf or in some other out of the way place until you need to go back to get something from it. Once you have the container on the shelf, you invite into the space that is left in your mind whatever is the most important current thought or feeling.

Worry Well, but Only Once

Some worries just have to be faced head-on, and worrying about them the right way can help eliminate secondary, unnecessary worrying. When you feel that your worries are out of control try this next method:

  1. Worry through all the issues within a time limit of 10-20 mins and cover all the bases
  2. Do anything that must be done at the present time Set a time when it’ll be necessary to think about the worry again
  3. Write that time on a calendar
  4. Whenever the thought pops up again say, “Stop! I already worried” and divert your thoughts as quickly as possible to another activity – you may need to make a list of these possible diversions beforehand.

Learn to Plan Instead of Worry

A big difference between planning and worrying is that a good plan doesn’t need constant review. An anxious brain, however, will reconsider a plan over and over to be sure it’s the right plan. This is all just ruminating worry disguising itself as making a plan and then seeking constant reassurance.

Planning

It is important to learn the fundamentals of planning as it can make a big difference in calming a ruminative mind. These include:

  1. Concretely identifying the problem
  2. Listing the problem solving options
  3. Picking one of the options
  4. Writing out a plan of action

The Court Case

Write down your thought/s – put the really troublesome thought that makes you feel really bad or upset.

Look for evidence to support the accuracy of the thoughts – what tells you this thought is true? What would a barrister / lawyer / advocate for the defence say? (Remember this is a “court case” and evidence should be able to stand up in court as facts)

Look for evidence against the thoughts – what tells you this thought is not totally true, all of the time? Is this opinion rather than fact? What would a barrister / lawyer / advocate for the prosecution say? What factual evidence is there? Consider what others would say (witnesses) etc.

Sum up all the evidence and come to your own conclusions – find a closing statement that is based on the evidence, which is realistic, rational and balanced. Rephrase the original thought in a way that includes the evidence.

These are just few things among the lot. Kindly consult a doctor and a counsellor for further help. Depression can be managed with the help of medication, therapy, self motivation and family support.

– Aruna Arumugam, Counsellor, Healtheminds

Stressed out by exams coming up

I know everyone (or most people) hate exams, but in my case this feeling is something extreme. I am a 19 year old girl doing my second year B.Com and want to do an MBA after this. But, every time I have to write my exams, I feel very panicky. I start sweating and breathing heavily, and once, I even fainted and my whole class found it very funny and now make fun of me every time there is an exam. This makes me even more frightened.

I am not a bad student, though I am not a 100% type student either. But because of being so frightened, I forget to answer questions sometimes, or go back and keep checking my answers again and again and end up without enough time to finish the paper. My parents keep telling me that I will do well, but I never feel confident.

Please help me. My semester papers are coming up soon and the thought of going through exams again makes me feel so down I cannot eat or sleep properly.

Exams are a hassle; we’re saying it because it’s true. No one likes doing them, and cramming information into your brain over a short period of time is stressful. A bit of stress can get you going, but too much can make you exhausted, angry and annoyed. There are a whole bunch of things you can do to help you get through exams the best way you can.

To manage your stress would be the first and foremost. You’ll be less stressed if you’ve got an idea of how the lead-up to your exams is going to look, so plan what you’re going to study and when, and stick it up on the wall, or on your desktop. Break it down into manageable chunks and start working through it at the rate you planned. It’s probably more boring at the start, but it’s far less stressful. Plan some break times and days off too!

Deal with pressure and expectations by realistically assessing how you think you’ll go, and working to do the best you can. If other people’s expectations are pressuring you, talk to them and try to get them to back off. If you’re putting too much pressure on yourself, try to realize failure isn’t fatal. It’s likely that the worst that can happen is that you take it again, with a massive head-start from the work you’ve already done.

There are other people studying for the same exam, and they probably don’t like having to lock themselves away to study any more than you do. Get together with them and take the books outside from time to time. If you’re not as strong in certain areas, it could help to talk to other students as well. If you are good at it, share the brain-wealth. It’s really important you look after your physical health when studying for exams. Make sure you’re stopping to eat regular meals and try to set aside 30 minutes a day to do some exercise, even if it’s just going for a walk. Having enough sleep is also really important.

Make sure you don’t pin all your hopes on one outcome. Have a few options, and realize that if your heart’s set on one thing there are always going to be other paths to it. If you’re finding things tough, ask for help. It’s your teacher, lecturer or tutors job to help you understand the subject, so if you’re not understanding stuff, tell them and they should be able to help.

If your study load or exams are driving you mad, there should be a counsellor at your education institution who can help with that as well.

– Aruna Arumugam, Counsellor, Healtheminds

If you are feeling the need for support in a relationship, simply enter your details here to schedule a counselling session with Healtheminds.

You can ask a question to be answered too using this form.

 

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