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How to know if you are experiencing anxiety or depression

April 3, 2020

The global pandemic is turning most people’s normal lives upside down. Many are experiencing drastic changes to their work life, social activities and routine. While much uncertainty comes with such changes, there are ways to identify emotional responses and minimize their impact.

“We need to heighten our awareness that experiencing symptoms of anxiety and depression in times of stress or uncertainty is normal and expected,” says Ronald Migalski, Executive Director of NCH Behavioral Health Services. 

It is common to have moments of stress, depression or anxiety. Humans, by nature, are social creatures of habit and when in situations that they cannot maintain typical socialization and routines, it can create an environment of unease. 

Symptoms of depression and anxiety

Some things people may be experiencing are:

  • Increased worrying
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Loss of appetite
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Irritability
  • Social isolation
  • Prolonged periods of loneliness
  • Feelings of helplessness and hopelessness

It is important to note that symptoms are not a diagnosis, and clinical depression or anxiety is very different from situational indications, which typically dissipate in time. We all experience these disruptions at some point, but it is more pronounced during times of extreme distress and uncertainty. Expect these symptoms to be intensified in those who are clinically diagnosed with depression or anxiety. 

Ways to manage symptoms of depression or anxiety

There are many ways to help alleviate these feelings and have a healthy response to them.

Track your feelings. Keep a journal of what you are feeling, when you are feeling it and for how long. After a few days, see if there are patterns with when or what brings on the uneasy feelings. This will help you understand the sources of your discomfort.

Remove stressors. Create an environment that reduces anxiety by removing the elements that may cause it. If the news makes you anxious, limit the time you watch it. If interactions on social media cause you frustration, mute the activities or limit time online. 

Take time for you. We are facing more time with ourselves, perhaps alone, than we normally would. Truly be present in the moment and remind yourself this is a temporary situation. If you feel you are in your house too much, take a short break outside. If you feel overwhelmed by working from home, schedule breaks to relax your mind. Also try yoga, exercise and meditation.

Keep a routine. Your usual routine is likely disrupted and your days may be nothing like you are used to. When you cannot have your old routine, make a new one as close to it as you can. Keep mornings the same as usual―get up at the same time and dress, shower and eat as you normally would. Take time out for lunch. End your work day so you have time to relax, refocus and do something you enjoy.

Stay connected. Research indicates people who stay connected are less anxious. The means of connection are not as important as the frequency in which they happen. Whether you communicate with someone via digital video, email, text, phone calls or anything else, be sure to focus on the connection rather than how you are having a connection. Maintain it and be actively engaged during communication.

When symptoms keep you from eating or sleeping and proliferate for several weeks, this could be associated with something more than situational anxiety or depression.

Seek professional, medical assistance if you feel you are not able work through intense feelings of stress, isolation, disconnection and anxiety. Any desire to hurt yourself or others requires professional intervention.

If you or someone you know needs immediate help, reach out to our Behavioral Health experts at 847-HEALING.