Tag Archives: anxiety equation

The overlap between depression and anxiety

 

depression photo

The overlap between depression and anxiety

I had hoped this year would be off to a good start but annoyingly, depression has raised it’s ugly head again. Suddenly, I realised I was withdrawing from others, spending more time sleeping and feeling very unenthused about pretty much everything in life.

It doesn’t help that I have been seeing someone for a few months who is struggling to come to terms with the fact that I have health problems. He was super keen until I told him about the fact that I was born with Cystic Fibrosis. To be fair to him, he is actually a very decent guy and lost his wife to cancer in 2015. Unsurprisingly he does not wish to have to go through all that trauma again.

Not that I am planning on going anywhere just yet but I guess I am more of a risk than a ‘healthy person’. The overlap between depression and anxiety is clear here. I have felt anxious about the status of the relationship for a few months now and this emotional stress has taken it’s toll, leading to depression.

Of course, I am doing my best to apply cognitive behavioural principles and keep perspective. I also ‘feed’ myself with positive affirmations daily and remind myself of all my wonderful qualities too. Despite, this, I am still human and still subject to all the rejection, fear and worry as everyone else.

I wanted to write this post to let anyone else out there struggling with anxiety and depression to remind themselves that life is a series of ups and downs. Accept that there will be down times but that the good news is you won’t stay down there forever. Take life one day at a time when you feel you are struggling and don’t take your thinking too seriously. I know that my thinking is seriously ‘off’ when I am depressed and I tend to see everything as my fault. I tend to also think about myself and my abilities in a very negative way. I do my best to ‘distance’ myself from this thinking as I know it is distorted and a product of my depressed state.

Keep your chin up(I will try too) and hopefully this dark cloud will soon clear.

Mandy X

The cause of anxiety

 

anxious photo

The cause of anxiety

In cognitive behavioural therapy, we refer to the anxiety equation. The anxiety equation shows the cause of anxiety.

Overestimation of the threat

____________________________________  =  Anxiety

Underestimation of ability to cope

Anxiety is always caused by our overestimation of the perceived threat and our underestimation of our ability to cope or handle the situation.

With regard to overestimating the threat – think about a time when you have anticipated an event and got yourself all worked up over it. Then  when you have actually experienced the dreaded event, you have found that it wasn’t half as bad as you expected it to be. Sound familiar?? This is part of the reason why we feel so anxious.

The other part is that we often underestimate our ability to cope. We tell ourselves we won’t be able to do it or that if the feared thing does happen, we will have a panic attack or not be able to manage it. We talk to ourselves in a fearful way that adds to our sense of dread. What we then do is try to avoid the event (which is the worst thing to do) or we find ways that we feel will help us cope by employing “safety behaviours”. Safety behaviours are things that we do that help us to cope temporarily in a feared or stressful situation. For some, it may be carrying a bottle of water or looking at our mobile phone (say for example in a situation where we feel anxious socially, in the company of others) or it could be complete avoidance. The problem is that when we avoid something we fear, the fear grows in our mind and we never test out our beliefs. When we face our fears, we often realise that we cope far better than we thought we would and this helps us to grow in confidence.

Even of the feared event doesn’t go that well, we teach ourselves that we still get through it, that we are still standing at the end of it and in this way we chip away at the fearful beliefs.

So, keep facing your fears. Keep repeating this and the more you face the feared situation, the easier it becomes and the less you will fear it. Start with baby steps if need be. For example, if you truly fear walking in to a room full of strangers ( a 10 out of 10 rating for anxiety, 0 = no anxiety, 10 = most anxiety), start with a 1 or 2 out of 10 anxiety rating. For example, perhaps start out by entering a room with one friend in it, then a few friends in it (slightly higher rating of 3 out of 10), then progress to a room full of friends (rating 5 out of 10 and then finally a room full of strangers)…this is just a very general example of “graded exposure” – get used to each level until the anxiety dissipates and then progress up to higher rating of anxiety of your feared-situation list.

In this way, you will learn to see the threat for what it really is, which is often less scary that you thought it would be and you also learn that you can cope with difficult situations. You will only know this by testing your beliefs out to see what happens!

You don’t need to live with anxiety – learn to challenge your fears. You may need to be out of your comfort zone more often but in the end you will expand your area of comfort and feel anxiety much less often and that is something we would all welcome!

Mandy X