Sunday, May 6, 2012

Don't Panic, Be Happy!

It's National Anxiety and Depression Awareness Week. Why both? Because they like to show up together a lot more than we'd like. And many people may seek treatment for one, not realizing they should be dealing with both, and then feel worse when their treatment doesn't work.

 Anxiety is weird. It's pretty easy when it's you, because you know your emotional state. When it's a friend or loved one, it's not so simple. There are literally hundreds of possible symptoms, and only certain combinations would make you think of anxiety. Plus, most people don't like to admit they're feeling anything more than a little worried.

 Anxiety disorders affect about 20% of the population every year. Without treatment, some turn to drugs and alcohol, some end up completely unable to function. Anxiety is relatively simple to treat, so there's no reason to try to tough it out.

 About 10% of the population is suffering from depression at any given time. It sucks if you're dealing with it, and it sucks if someone you care about is dealing with it. And the longer it goes untreated, the more miserable the person feels, the greater the risk of drug or alcohol abuse, and the greater the risk of suicide. If it's more than "the blues" or it lasts longer than a couple months - get help!

Common signs of anxiety
• restlessness or feeling edgy
• becoming tired easily
• trouble concentrating
• feeling as if the mind is going blank
• irritability
• muscle tension
• sleep problems (trouble falling / staying asleep / getting restful sleep)
• palpitations
• chest pain, chest tightness, feeling like you're having a heart attack
• shortness of breath or trouble breathing
• sweating of the palms
• nausea or pretty much any "tummy trouble"
• trembling or shaking
• men tend to have more mental problems (tension, irritability, a sense of doom) while women tend to have more physical problems (shortness of breath, nausea)

Common signs of depression:
• difficulty concentrating, remembering details, and making decisions
• fatigue and decreased energy
• feelings of guilt, worthlessness, and/or helplessness
• feelings of hopelessness and/or pessimism
• insomnia, early-morning wakefulness, or excessive sleeping
• irritability, restlessness
• loss of interest in activities or hobbies once pleasurable, including sex
• overeating or appetite loss
• persistent aches or pains, headaches, cramps, or digestive problems that do not ease even with treatment
• persistent sad, anxious, or "empty" feelings


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