A Good Chat Therapy & Counselling

Counselling for Anxiety & Depression

woman sitting on wooden planks

By guest blogger Debbie Gold

Writer & researcher

Introduction

Generally, anxiety and depression are normal stressors of life.  People become anxious about making a difficult decision, routine problems (interpersonal conflicts, financial concerns) or taking examinations; or become depressed at the death of a loved one, loss of major assets or job, etc.  Typically people develop coping strategies for these stressors.  However, they become a disorder when there are no logical reasons for the persistent feelings of worry, and apprehension or “disturbances in emotions that cause subjective discomfort, hinder a person’s ability to function or both” (Sue, Sue & Sue, 1994) for a long time.  When either disorder (anxiety or depression) “interfere with a person’s everyday activities” (Higuera, 2020), it is dubbed a serious medical condition, and time to seek professional healthcare assistance.

It is important to note that depression and anxiety can occur at the same time as a person. Healthline reports that “research shows that over 70% of people with depressive disorder also have symptoms of anxiety…and share common treatments” (2020). 

Overview

In the USA alone, approximately 16 million adults suffer from depression and another 42 million suffer from anxiety.  Depression affects nearly 2 million of their youths between the ages of 12-18, and approximately 11million are affected by anxiety (National Institute of Mental Health).  Of note, 50 to 60 percent do not receive any mental health treatment.  Meanwhile,

Beyond Blue (2020), records that “it is estimated that 45% of all (Australians) will experience a mental health condition in their lifetime…In any one year (approximately) 1 million adult Australians have depression, and over 2 million have anxiety.” The statistics are cause for alarm, particularly for those who do not seek help.

Symptoms of Anxiety

Anxiety symptoms affect the person’s cognitive, behavioural, and somatic, and are further manifested in:

  • Panic disorder – mainly affects the cognitive and ranges from mild worry to panic and severe doom and gloom (the world is ending), preoccupied with impending dangers and terrified of things happening to the family.
  • Generalized anxiety disorder – triggered by a buildup of stressful life situations, fear of the actual situation, and manifested when worried about death, misfortune, finances, social performance, rejection, school, work stress, etc.

General symptoms of anxiety are manifested in rapid heart rate, palpitations, heart disease, chest pains, and high blood pressure, lightheadedness, nauseous (Cherney, 2020).

Anxiety Coping Strategies

It is not easy for persons living with an anxiety disorder to ‘snap out of it,’ as others might think. Still, they must push themselves to do somethings towards a successful change each day.  Below is a list of helpful actions:

  • Therapy
  • Stress management
  • Relaxation
  • Join the self-help/support group
  • Stick to prescribed medication and recommended (unique) treatment plan

Therapeutic Approach to Anxiety Disorder

For those who are struggling and seeking help, counsellors/therapists have to be eclectic in their approach.  Since people are different, this type of psychotherapy addresses the specific client, the particular problem, their expectation, and motivation, and work towards a specific goal.  The eclectic approach is often used in conjunction with other types of therapeutic solutions.  See below.

  1. Cognitive Behavioural Therapy – helps the patient to identify different ways of thinking, behaving, and reacting to anxiety situations. This therapy also helps the patient to confront the underlining fear, and engage in activities that are usually avoided. For example, a person fearful of public speaking may absent himself from work/school when a presentation needs to be done. Typically homework is given based on the session discussion.
  2. Solution-Focused Brief Therapy – this concept is patient-centered, and uses the strength and resources of the patient.  The therapist allows the patient to articulate the solution and set goals to achieve a positive outcome.
  3. Psychotherapy – this approach is specific to the patient’s anxieties and both therapist and patient talk through the required needs to bring about change.

Management of Anxiety

Anxiety is usually treated with psychotherapy or medication or both.  The option used will be dependent on what is best for the patient.  However, there are tips to naturally manage anxiety, such as: get adequate rest, exercise daily to maintain health and feeling good about self, take deep breaths, meditate, count to 10, if smoke – quit, and limit caffeine and alcohol intake.  For persons who are prone to stress, it is a good idea to drink warm milk, and herbal tea (chamomile, peppermint), at the end of the day.  They can help persons to relax.

Conversely, some food triggers should be noted. They are, high in fat dairy products, processed meats, fried foods, refined cereal, candy, and pastries.  To stay even-keeled, it is best to eat plenty of fruits, vegetables, fish (salmon), and grains rich in fiber, turmeric, dark chocolate, and yogurt.

Symptoms of Depression

It is normal to feel sad, lonely, down, or even depressed.  However, when those emotions become prolonged and you begin to experience several of the below-listed symptoms, it may be an indication that you are suffering from depression and require a medical diagnosis.

  • suicidal tendencies – constant thoughts or talks about death
  • hopeless and pessimistic – feeling like ‘I don’t do anything right’
  • irritable – easily agitated about things and with people
  • loss of interest in things that were once enjoyed, to include sex
  • overeating or loss of appetite, insomnia
  • empty feelings and anxiety
  • feelings of guilt, low self-esteem, and a sense of worthlessness
  • lack of focus, cannot recall details
  • fatigue, headache, pains, cramps
  • history of mental illness

If someone displays five or more of the above characteristic, it implies clinical depression

Depression affects men, women, and children in different ways. Depression is either mild or severe and comes in two main categories:

  • Major Depressive Disorder – the more severe form of depression with persistent feelings of hopelessness, sadness, worthlessness and needs treatment to go away (Higuera, 2020).  Of note, patients who have been diagnosed with psychosis and have the condition of major depressive disorder are termed as being depressive psychosis.  They are often delusional, take unusual risks, and have suicidal tendencies. While Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is often triggered by anxiety, 80% of persons with OCD also have major depression.
  • Persistent Depressive Disorder – this is a milder, but chronic form of depression that can be successfully treated once the patient sticks to the treatment plan (Higuera, 2020.)  Bipolar depression is often tabled here.

Depression Coping Strategies

Even with the best intentions, trying to move on from the ‘down’ feelings can be hard.  However, if you take one step at a time, you can do it.  Below are some helpful suggestions:

  • Exercise regularly
    • Get plenty of rest/sleep
    • Build strong healthy relationships with others
    • Maintain prescribed medication and recommended (unique) treatment plan
    • Join a support group or volunteer to help others
    • Reduce stress – do things that make you feel relaxed, relieve pressure
    • Avoid alcohol
    • Set boundaries in personal and professional life – say no

Therapeutic Approach to Depression Disorder

Here, the therapeutic approach will be dependent on the severity of the symptoms, and an eclectic approach will also be used in conjunction with one or a combination of the below:-

  1. Cognitive Behavioural Therapy – helps the patient to address the negative thought patterns and replace them with positive self-talk; and the behaviours that contribute to depression, for example constantly talking about death.  In this approach, the session ends with homework (journal, relaxation activities) to help the patient to stay focus on the ultimate treatment goal
  2. Psychodynamic Therapy – this technique assumes that there are unresolved, subconscious conflicts from childhood. The goal is to help the patient become aware of the range of latent emotions and connect past experiences to see how they relate to depression (Schimelpfening, 2020).
  3. Psychotherapy – this approach is specific to the patient’s depression and both therapist and patient talk through the required needs to bring about change.

Management of Depression

Healthcare professionals may recommend a combination treatment plan: (i) medication – antidepressant, antianxiety, and antipsychotic or (ii) psychotherapy or (iii) both.  Also, you can help yourself to get over your depression by taking care of yourself – eat right, take a walk, express yourself by writing, listening to music, dancing, or reading a book. Most of all stay positive. 

Also, some food help with mood swings, such as dark leafy vegetables, foods rich in antioxidants, citrus, fish, milk, yogurt, and poultry.

Conclusion

When symptoms of anxiety and depression are seemingly common in all people, they do not want to be stigmatized as mental health patients.  Yet mental health is really about wellness and people making attempts to take care of their mind, body, and soul to lead successful lives.

Although treatment for anxiety and depression are not quick fixes, recovery is possible.  As such, counsellors/therapists and health professionals are keen to provide the best care and services. 

Reference

Beyond Blue. (2020). The facts. Australia Post. Retrieved 21/10/20, from

https://www.beyondblue.org.au/the-facts

Cherney, K. (2020). Effects of anxiety on the body. Healthline. Retrieved 23/10/20, from

https://www.healthline.com/health/anxiety/effects-on-body#The-effects-of-anxiety-on-the-body

Higuera, V. (2020). Everything you want to know about depression. Healthline. Retrieved

            24/10/20, from https://www.healthline.com/health/depression

Schimelpfening, N. (2020). Types of psychotherapy for depression. Verywell mind. Retrieved

24/10/20, from https://www.verywellmind.com/types-of-psychotherapy-for-depression-1067407

Sue, D., & Sue, D., & Sue, S. (1994). Understanding abnormal behaviour: Fourth edition.

            Houghton Mifflin Company. Boston.

The National Institute of Mental Health Information Resource Center. (2018). Anxiety disorders.

            NIMH information and publication. Retrieved 21/10/20, from

https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/anxiety-disorders/index.shtml

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