During the winter months, people are especially susceptible to the feared winter depression. Others may have had complaints of depression and anxiety for years now. These two mental illnesses are nothing to wave off, they need to be taken seriously.
Disclaimer: we are not psychological professionals. If your quality of life suffers from your symptoms, please visit a therapist.
How to identify depression or anxiety
Depression and anxiety aren’t just things of which you instantly know you have it. These illnesses slowly alter your behavior and thoughts, causing you to feel more distant from yourself every day. Luckily, there are a few symptoms that can help you identify your feelings quickly to allow you to seek help more easily. The Anxiety and Depression Association of America has a list of resources you can look into as well.
Depression is both a mental and physical illness. One of the first symptoms is usually an overall feeling of fatigue while noticing a change in your sleeping pattern. Some people will suddenly sleep more than usual, while others experience feelings of insomnia. Another physical symptoms of depression are a sudden change in appetite, random aches and pains, and having difficulty recalling memories.
Mental symptoms of depression are a loss of interest in hobbies, feeling pessimistic, becoming irritable, experiencing increased feelings of sadness, emptiness, and guilt, and contemplating or attempting suicide.
Everyone feels anxious from time to time. This is a normal response to situations in which you are in danger, need to perform for other people or others. However, when these feelings stay for a more extended period, you may be suffering from chronic anxiety.
Chronic anxiety also has both physical and mental symptoms. Your physical symptoms are similar to a fight-or-flight reaction, like having a racing heart and experiencing muscle tension. Other symptoms include teeth grinding, feeling fatigued, having difficulty concentrating, and experiencing sleeping problems.
Emotional symptoms include the constant feeling of dread as if something terrible were to happen, restlessness, panic, and having a difficulty to control worries or fears.
How to cope symptoms
Experiencing one or more of the above symptoms for a more extended amount of time can be extremely difficult. We understand you want to seek help and to rid yourself of these feelings. Therefore, we have collected a few of our best tips to help you cope with your anxiety and depression.
Take a help test
If you are suddenly experiencing feelings and emotions you are unfamiliar with, feeling down, and having no interest in doing activities you used to love, you may be suffering from depression or anxiety.
Of course, only a professional can officially diagnose you. However, by taking a reputable test online, you will get more insight into your current situation, which can help you work towards a solution. Depression.org offers both depression and anxiety tests. This is a reputable New-Zealand website and is also recommended by Healthline, an American research website.
Keep an online diary
While you may not feel up for it, you must keep track of your daily feelings, behaviors, and any other things that may stand out. When you visit a doctor or therapist, they will often ask you to keep track of your daily feelings, so keeping a diary helps to identify your symptoms more quickly.
It can be as straightforward or as extensive as you’d like. Web apps like Evernote allow you to fill in a digital notebook. You can also use a chat app to send messages of your feelings to yourself throughout the day.
Things that are helpful to add to your diary are:
- Your bedtime and the time you got up. Did you wake up during the night?
- Your food intake and cravings.
- Your emotions throughout the day. How were you feeling when you woke up, and when you went to bed?
- Your social interactions. Did you talk to your friends today? Do you feel the need to contact them at all?
- Whether or not you have suicidal thoughts.
Talk with a friend
When you suffer from anxiety and depression, you may feel alone at times. This is a normal feeling. However, you must know that you are not alone. There is always someone willing to help, or just to listen to you when you need it. If you have a friend or family member that you trust, call them or chat with them.
You can ask them if they can lend you an ear while you vent about your thoughts and feelings. Share as much or as little as you’d like, they are here for you. You can also decide through which medium you want to contact them. If you don’t feel like talking out loud, you can chat. If you want to see each other, you can use a video call. It’s all up to you.
Talk with a therapist
If you don’t want to visit a therapist or feel like you can’t leave the house, an online therapist may be the solution for you. The most important thing is that you find someone that can help you and that you feel connected with. It doesn’t help you at all if you feel like there is no trust between you and your therapist.
Sometimes, restarting your thoughts can help to make you feel better. Meditating or listening to ASMR (Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response) can help you to empty your mind and to relax fully, both physically and mentally. Since many people get distracted easily, you can use guided meditation to keep your thoughts and mind on track.
You can meditate as long as you’d like, whether it’s just for 5 minutes or for a full hour. Rather than fighting the feelings you’re experiencing, you let them flow by while you sit back and do nothing. It seems controversial to not do anything with your negative thoughts, but sometimes you just need to let them pass rather than to go against the stream.
Look at calming images
This sounds like a weird piece of advice, but it works wonders. There are a few gifs and videos online that have calming motions. Follow these motions with your breath, and you will notice that your heart rate slows down. These images are designed to calm you and are often fun to watch, too, like Calming Cat. If you need these calming images, you simply need to fill in “anti-anxiety exercises” in your Google search bar, and you’ll get a few hits instantly!
There are different ways to help you cope with depression and anxiety online. However, you need to find something that suits you the best. Every person has different needs, even when they are depressed. Therefore, you must take the time to evaluate your options and try a few to find out which one works best for you.
Again, we are not professionals, we are merely here to help. If you suffer from suicidal thoughts and feelings, don’t hesitate to call your national suicide prevention line. They are there to help you, no matter what. You are not alone.