HOW DO YOU KNOW IF YOU’VE GOT ANXIETY OR DEPRESSION, OR BOTH?
Karen says those vulnerable to anxiety see risks in everyday situations, such as Alana worrying that everything will make her ill, but may also include applying for a job, asking for help or finding a partner. “Anxious people tend to catastrophise and think, ‘I’m too scared to ask anyone out on a date, so I will never meet anyone and I’ll be alone forever,’ and those fears can escalate.”
But if you’ve had a low mood for some time and it’s starting to affect your daily life, then that could point to depression. “You can be clinically depressed and still get out of bed every morning, go to work and take care of your kids, but depression can severely affect your quality of life. Take notice when you start not wanting to do things that normally give you pleasure, such as seeing friends or going to parties.
You can get into a cycle where everything feels too hard and hopeless and you start asking yourself what’s the point?”
Mary knows that feeling well. Although the single mother didn’t seek professional help for her anxiety, she is visiting a counsellor to work out her depression.
“Talking to someone every fortnight can get expensive but it’s given me the basic tools to help me work on it, such as exercising, eating well and getting enough sleep, as well as keeping socially active and talking to friends when I start to feel down. At this stage, it seems to be working.”
Karen says there are good basic tests on the internet that can be used to determine whether someone is suffering from anxiety or depression, or both.
“They’re a good starting point but my advice is to reach in – do everything you possibly can to get yourself back on track. That includes the usual strategies such as exercise and a balanced diet, but also having goals and things to look forward to. However, if you find it’s still not working and you can’t find your way back to the person you were previously, then I’d suggest seeking professional help.”