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How To Cope With Depression And Anxiety

Photo by Abigail Keenan

Depression is a mood disorder that causes a disturbance in a persons ability to concentrate or make decisions. Symptoms include low self-esteem, difficulty focusing, insomnia, fatigue, poor appetite and feelings of sadness, hopelessness death and suicide.
Anxiety is a reaction to stress. For some people, anxiety can negatively effect their day-to-day living, hindering them from engaging in certain activities and relationships. Anxiety disorder is not only restricted to Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) but it is also classified as  Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD), Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), Panic Disorder, Social Phobia (Social Anxiety Disorder) and Agoraphobia. 
It is very common for people to experience co-occuring disorders such as depression and anxiety. The good news is both diagnoses are treatable but despite knowing this the intensity of being both depressed and anxious can be very overwhelming and has burdened the lives of many. So what are some good ways to cope with both depression and anxiety?
1. Challenge Your Negative Thoughts
Depression and anxiety have something very in common, and that is a mind full of negative thoughts or magical thinking. When dealing with depression and anxiety it is important to focus on your words and to challenge your beliefs. Replace "I can't" with "I can", "I need" with "I want", "I shouldn't have" with "I did". Your belief system, how you view yourself and what you tell yourself plays a crucial role in how you behave and what feelings you experience. Understand that you are not perfect and your main goal in life is not to be a perfect person who does perfect things but to understand that you are an imperfect person who is capable of achieving great things in life despite your flaws and imperfections.
2. Keep a Journal/Purge Your Thoughts
Clear your headspace. It is common to worry, over-think, doubt, and burden ourselves with thoughts about everything that is happening in our lives whether it be good or bad. Sometimes it can be important to let your words out and bring them to life through pen and paper. Journaling can be very therapeutic and is a helpful and healthy way to purge your thoughts. Journaling is also helpful because it is a way to document your growth by having something to look back at in life and see how far you have come whether you are reading something from two days ago or two years ago. Clear your mind and you will begin to see clearly. 
3. Self Care
When was the last time you took care of yourself? Self care is crucial in any persons life whether they are dealing with depression and anxiety or not. Taking care of yourself means adopting healthy habits and adjusting to a healthier lifestyle. This can be changing your diet to eat healthier foods, working out, getting 6-8 hours of sleep or grooming yourself and engaging in fun activities. The only person that can take care of you is you. Make a list of all the things you enjoy doing, is it reading, writing or going to museums? Ask yourself when was the last time you did something for yourself whether it be buying yourself a gift or getting your hair done and make note of all the things that make you happy even in the midst of feeling sad or anxious. Take this list and engage in these activities more and more to boost your energy and to motivate you.
4. Don't Isolate/Social Support
Isolation is one of the many symptoms that people suffer from when it comes to depression and it actually causes more stress and worsens the illness. When we are alone we are alone with our thoughts and our sadness, we have no one there to pull us out of our darkness. Make an effort to surround yourself with people and good energy. It can be hard to open up to friends and family members about mental health issues but if you can find at least one person who you feel close with and can open up to, be content with having that one person to confide in. If this is a person that you care for and trust, it is likely that this personal cares for you in return. Don't shy away or pull away from positive outlets during this time in your life.
5. Self-medicating
It is very common for people dealing with mental health issues such as depression and anxiety to self-medicate either through over-eating, drinking, doing drugs and other addictive behaviors such as compulsive shopping and gambling. One of the most common forms of self-medicating is through alcohol. It's legal and because we have easy access to this substance it has less of a stigma. Though alcohol may feel like it relieves anxiety, it is actually a mood enhancer and has an affect on your central nervous system which may worsen depression. Be mindful of your tolerance when drinking with a mental illness. Seek help if you begin to notice a change in your drinking habits or if you begin indulging in other unhealthy substances.
6. Exercise
Exercising regularly can help boost your energy levels, decrease fatigue and can be just as effective as taking antidepressants. Exercising can increase both dopamine and serotonin levels which normally decrease when dealing with depression and anxiety. Exercising is helpful to manage stress and implementing this into your lifestyle can produce positive results. Take the steps instead of the elevator, run or jog for a few minutes. Walking for just 10 minutes can increase your mood for two hours and exercising before bedtime also helps to improve your sleep. Yoga and meditation is also helpful when it comes to easing anxiety. 
 7. Seek Help
Although the aforementioned tips we provided you with can be very helpful with easing your anxiety and managing your depression, one of the best ways to manage any negative feeling in life is by talking it out and sometimes when all else doesn't work seeking professional help would be the ultimate next best step. Not everyone has a confidant or reliable family member who they can trust to not judge or shame them for their mental illness. Nor do friends or family members always know what to say during times like this. Don't be ashamed or embarrassed to seek professional help. 
Written by,
Minaa B 

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