Tag Archives: depression

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

How to manage negative thoughts

negative thinking photoPhoto by martinak15

 

How to manage negative thoughts

We have somewhere between 40 000 and 60 000 thoughts every day so it pays to be selective about the thoughts you decide to focus on.  In general, I have found that most of my clients tend to worry more when they have spare time. Rumination is the tendency to over think things without finding a solution. It is wasted energy and only serves as mental torture.

The best way to deal with negative thoughts is to remind yourself that thoughts are NOT facts. They are merely a representation of reality and are formed according to your existing ‘filters’ and experiences. This means they can often be distorted and unhelpful – creating anxiety and distress unnecessarily. Have you ever worried about something only to find out that you had made assumptions and all your worry was for nothing? Remember that there is ALWAYS another way to look at an event. Watch what you tell yourself and how you interpret things.

Thoughts affect emotions which in turn affect how we behave. THINK – FEEL – BEHAVE. This is the bottom line of cognitive behavioural therapy. Watch your thinking, challenge your negative thinking and immediately improve your quality of life.

We can all ‘catastrophise’ initially and think the worst. For example, I have had days when I have eaten junk all day and then had the thought “I am never going to be healthy, I may as well just give up”. This thought led me to feeling pretty low and annoyed at myself. I could also choose to think “I may have been undisciplined today but tomorrow I can start again”. The same event and two different thoughts which will in turn lead to two different emotions….the first negative thought will lead to negative emotions whereas the second thought will lead me to feeling more hopeful and optimistic. Watch what you feed yourself – I call it my ‘mental diet’ and I constantly work at talking to myself in an empowering way.

Ask yourself what you might tell a friend to help you think up another way to look at something.

Remind yourself that “this too shall pass”. One good thing about life is that there will always be change and although change isn’t always welcome, at times it can really be a good thing.

Accept that negative and intrusive thoughts are part of life. They will keep coming but you can train yourself to let the thoughts pass without really giving them attention. Distract yourself if necessary…another thought will soon be coming along.

Learn to choose the thoughts that work for you and empower you. You can choose your thoughts and beliefs.

Don’t compare yourself to others as you never truly know what is going on, Instead focus on yourself, your strengths and your goals.

If you find it really hard not to worry, schedule yourself some ‘worry time’, say half an hour in the evening and then don’t allow yourself to worry until then. Make sure that when worry time comes around, you do your best to be resolution focused rather than allowing your scary thoughts to ‘bully’ and scare you. Fear paralyses us and often there is no need for the fear in the first place.

Think of these three options: Change, accept or let go.

Decide on a plan of action and do it. Try not to allow thought to just keep running through your mind over and over. The more you worry, the more you lose time to be content and at peace.

Keeping negative thinking in check takes practise and the job will never be perfect but I work at it every day and I have definitely improved my happiness levels and ability to cope over time…a work in progress and you can do it too.

Mandy X

 

Depression in teenagers

 

depressed teen

Depression in teenagers

Depression in teenagers is a growing problem. Teenagers face increasing pressure to achieve, perform and cope with a variety of stressors. There is academic pressure to achieve against an extremely competitive backdrop. Teenagers are also going through huge developmental and hormonal changes that can lead to insecurity, low self esteem and extreme self consciousness. Social anxiety in teenagers is on the rise and bullying can now follow teenagers into the previously relied-upon sanctity of the home. Nowhere seems safe anymore.

Symptoms of depression in teenagers

Lack of enthusiasm and/or motivation

Social withdrawal

Decreased pleasure in activities or hobbies they used to enjoy

Changes in appetite (eating more or less)

Changes in sleep patterns

Irritability or anger

Restlessness

Poor school performance

Is it depression or ‘usual’ growing pains?

Teenagers all go through tricky phases, such is life for all of us but when symptoms persist for a few months, it may be time to delve deeper.

What to do:

Don’t ignore the problem. Gently talk to your teenager and try to find out how they are feeling. It’s is also important to establish whether they have ever thought about suicide.Try not to lecture or judge, rather listen and encourage – be supportive even when at times this can be hard. As parents, we all have expectations of our children and when they fail to manifest, we can become irritated at their perceived lack of drive.

Encourage socialisation. Withdrawal and hiding away only adds to depression. Being involved in activities and getting out of the house, even for a brief walk can have a positive effect on mood and behaviour.

Seek professional help if your teenager seems unable to help themselves get out of their funk. CBT can be useful and this can also be supplemented with antidepressants after a careful assessment by a doctor.

There is always hope and with the right input, all teenagers have the capacity to improve.

Mandy X

Helpline:  The Samaritans:  CALL  116 123 (UK)

http://www.samaritans.org/

I want to die

 

suicid

I want to die

Thankfully I don’t hear the words “I want to die” often but they are very worrying words when they are uttered. Those that think people who commit suicide are selfish don’t truly understand the torment and anguish of those who feel so hopeless that suicide seems to be the only way out.

When someone is suicidal, they aren’t thinking clearly. Emotions are extremely powerful and can reduce a logical rational person to a complete wreck. Emotions tend to win the argument every time. Ever reacted to something strongly, only to feel embarrassed a while later once you have calmed down? That’s your emotions taking control. Ever been in love and made a fool of yourself trying to win back an old flame? Yep – emotions yet again.

Suicidal people are so overwhelmed by negative emotions that are so unbearable that all they can think about is getting rid of the pain. There is no room for logical sane thinking in this process.

When someone says they want to die, take it seriously, even if it is a cry for attention, either way the victim is crying out for help.

Mandy X

 

Managing Type A behaviour

 

calm person

Woman with eyes closed sitting in meadow.

Managing Type A behaviour

10 steps to manage type A behaviour:

Modern society has changed over the last two decades. The pace has increased and so has stress-related illnesses such as coronary heart disease and strokes. We all have different temperaments but for some, life is a constant rush and this can seem normal when in fact it isn’t. The style of behaviour often has its roots in the early childhood whether need to achieve and be successful is instilled from an early age. Type a behaviour is associated with heart disease, allergies stomach ulcers and an exaggerated response of the sympathetic nervous system to stress (fight or flight response) and poor levels of mental health (anxiety and depression). Type A behaviour also seems to be linked with high levels of success in career and financial terms.

1) Slow down

Become more aware of how time focused your lifestyle is and make an effort to slow down. Deliberately eat slower and tried to do one thing at a time. The more present in the moment rather than living your life in your head, worrying about the future. It really is a case of taking the time to “smell the roses”.

2) Take breaks

Built stress free ‘breathing spaces’ into your daily and weekly routine. Use these spaces to focus on relaxation. This could be a five minute period where you carry out a muscle relaxation exercise or breathing exercise (slow deep breathing, in through your nose and out through your mouth). You could also use this time to take a walk in the park or read a newspaper. And regular holidays and if possible get away to a different environment.

3) Commit yourself to hobbies

As part of an effort to broaden yourself and reduce obsessional time focused behaviour, it is A good idea to develop activities and hobbies such as sailing, gardening, sewing or walking. Try to engage in uncompetitive trivial activities just. This helps the brain to be more balanced and open to new things.

4) Express feelings

Try to adopt a more positive approach to expressing yourself and how you feel. Take time to think others and show appreciation and get into the habit of identifying the emotions you feel on a daily basis. Our emotions are messages that we need to listen to. Emotions are like our internal compass letting us know whether we are on the right path. Expressing emotions to others helps us to feel connected and brings true contentment, more so than achievement or possessions.

5) Practise listening

Search out somebody who talks slowly and deliberately. Have a slow conversation. Try to hold back from making yourself the centre of attention. Ask yourself ‘do I really have anything important to say?’

6) Forget time

Give yourself breaks where you remove your watch try to lose your sense of time. Break the habit of always being punctual, deliberately miss a few deadlines alternate from meeting five minutes late. This may seem odd advice but working against your usual patterns of behaviour is a good way to mentally reverse ingrained habits. The less time focused and more ‘experience focused’.

7) Manage your hostility

Identify the triggers-keep a diary. It is essential to challenge your rigid thinking. Be especially careful of the words “must, should and ought”. Loosen up those thoughts, use ‘it would be nice if’ instead of ‘should’. Occasionally to say to yourself “it doesn’t matter”. Get into the habits of challenging the thinking that puts you under pressure.

8) Learn to relax

Learn a relaxation technique and try to practice once a day -whether this is some form of meditation or yoga or just practising being in the moment, learning to quieten our minds is a valuable skill.

9) Have a chat

Make a point of chatting or engaging in conversation that has no specific purpose. Slow down and try to be less task orientated. Learn to idle the time away. Try to laugh or make somebody.

10) Understand the reasons

Take time out to assess the cause of your type a behaviour. Did your parents approval depend on how successful or achieving you were as a child? Ask yourself, “what am I trying to prove?” Does your idealism and striving improve or diminish the quality of your life?

Research indicates that, with the right intervention, people can manage their type A behaviour effectively thereby reducing the risks of physical and mental health without impairing their performance.

Mandy X

Don’t despair

 

despair

Don’t despair

Life can certainly get on top of us all at times. I know I get days when I feel like nothing is going right and everything is awful. That’s normal and it’s a horrid place to be. The trick is to give yourself a time limit. Self pity and wallowing is fine, even necessary, but after 2-3 days it’s time to take hold of your wayward thoughts and focus on climbing back out of that depressed hole you have dug for yourself.

Yep, sometimes life sucks and it can truly feel as if you are completely alone in what you are going through but you can take solace in the fact that we all get those times. We are all just good at hiding it from each other. It’s okay to feel like you have had enough. Despite all my psychological training I have not found a way to prevent life from getting to me at times.

We can easily go off track and begin to focus on everything that isn’t working and give in to our insecurities. Remind yourself that it is just a frame of mind, not necessarily the reality. You may feel that you aren’t loved or that you are unimportant but more often than not, the reality is not that way at all. It is our thinking that needs adjusting.

Write a list of all the good things you have in your life. Write a list of all your good qualities – what do you like about yourself? These can be physical attributes or personality characteristics.

At times, it’s not about having what you want ‘its about wanting what you have. Focusing on what you don’t have or looking at your perceived lack is never going to help you to feel better. Do what will work – force yourself to think about what is going right for you, no matter how small and build on these small successes.

Also – force yourself to DO more. Even a small thing like walking the dog when you don’t feel like it or getting out of bed one hour earlier. DO it – be strong. Talk to the strong part of you and take back control. You are in control of your life, not your thoughts.  Don’t be so hard on yourself. You are wonderful..you are amazing…believe this at all costs. Mandy X

positive affirmations

 

This stressed out world

stressed out world

 

This stressed out world

I am not sure if you have noticed, but the world seems to be an increasingly fraught place – filled with overworked, time poor people. There never seems to be enough time each day to get everything done and the list of things that need to be completed never seems to shorten.

How have we let life get this way? Nowadays, when I want to see a girlfriend for lunch, we usually have to book 2-3 weeks in advance as we both tend to have such busy schedules and finding time that coincides is becoming more of a challenge. Our brains are on constant alert from the constant bombardment of information just to add to the complicated equation.

So what can we do to counteract stress and strain and not end up in strait jackets?

It’s easier said than done but try not to get caught up in the mind frame of constantly having to be ‘doing’ something. Learn to get comfortable with silence and quiet time. Learn to relax and feel at ease doing nothing. Fight the urge to keep on doing.

We are driven to achieve and want more and to feel we are progressing, so we work hard to get a house and a car and a good job, we find relationships and we self soothe by going shopping, gambling and drinking (drugs too). All of these quick fixes fix us in the short term but they don’t keep stress away indefinitely.

How to step off the stress-mill

Learn to do nothing for at least half an hour a day without any guilt

Learn to feel comfortable without a to-do list. You don’t need it as much as you think you do

Stop watching the news for a few days

Spend time with friends and don’t allow yourself to be distracted by your phone – put it away or turn it off.

Spend time alone

Pamper yourself – go for a regular massage, pedicure, manicure etc

Engage in at least one enjoyable activity per week – ice skating, knitting, photography, playing chess, reading..whatever you enjoy

Set yourself clear SMART goals S = specific M=measurable A = achievable R = realistic t = time bound

When you have goals you have a sense of purpose and this can help you get through the immediate stress and frustration, knowing you are working towards something important and worthwhile.

Don;t take life too seriously – keep a sense of humour as much as possible.

I have never seen so many clients who are stressed out, having panic attacks as well as suffering from constant anxiety and/or depression. Unsettled sleeping patterns and health issues are common side effects of too much stress.

Get your balance back and don;t let stress rule your life – there are ways to reduce stress. Take stock of your life and make necessary changes. Long term consequences of stress can be very damaging. Here’s to a new care free you.

Mandy X