Anxiety and depression are conditions that affect millions of people and are often stigmatized and misunderstood. As part of Mental Health Awareness Month, which happens every May, this week in May is focused on communicating information about anxiety and depression.
Sharing information about these conditions is intended to help eliminate stigma and encourage people who may be struggling with mental health problems to have the opportunity to become more informed and take the steps needed to get help.
Facts About Anxiety
Over 18 percent of the adult population in the United States is affected by anxiety disorders. Barely over one-third of people who have anxiety disorders are receiving treatment for them, even though anxiety is a very treatable condition.
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Anxiety disorders are not a sign of weakness. They are caused by a combination of genetics, environmental factors, brain chemistry and life events. Anxiety disorders include:
- Generalized anxiety disorder
- Panic disorders
- Post-traumatic stress disorder
- Obsessive-compulsive disorder
- Social anxiety disorder
- Specific phobias
Facts About Depression
Depression is a very common condition that affects more than 16 million Americans and more than 300 million around the world. It is considered the top cause of disability worldwide.
Depression goes beyond feelings of sadness. It is characterized by paralyzing fatigue, a sense of hopelessness and feelings of irritability and emptiness. It can range from moderate to severe and sometimes affects people only at certain times, such as postpartum depression or seasonal affective disorder.
Untreated depression causes people to have a great deal of difficulty functioning in their day-to-day lives. Treatment for depression can be very effective in relieving symptoms of hopelessness and inability to function.
The Goal of National Anxiety and Depression Awareness Week
Anxiety and depression are frequently judged and stigmatized, and people who struggle with them can be thought of as weak or as refusing to cope with the stresses of life. The goal of National Anxiety and Depression Awareness Week is to provide education and information about these conditions to the public and to help reduce the stigma associated with them.
Stigma causes people who struggle with treatable conditions to try to pretend nothing is wrong and refrain from getting help. Untreated anxiety and depression can lead to bigger problems, such as a tendency to try to self-medicate with alcohol or drugs or to have suicidal tendencies.
The goal is to help people understand that some of the behavior of a person who suffers from depression or anxiety may be beyond their control unless they get professional help. Learning more about depression and anxiety is important for everyone from bosses to family members of an affected individual, and those who may have one of these conditions need to know that asking for help is the right thing to do.
If you or a loved one believe you may have a problem with anxiety or depression, don’t try to struggle with it alone. Help is available and can make a very big difference for these conditions. Start by talking to a family physician or mental health professional to obtain an accurate diagnosis so a treatment plan can be started. The treatment plan may include medication, psychotherapy or both.
Along with professional help, lifestyle changes may also help improve symptoms of both depression and anxiety. Physical exercise can help a person feel better both mentally and physically. Practicing mindfulness through deep breathing and meditation can help to calm difficult emotions. Using a journal to write about and release feelings can also help.
National Anxiety and Depression Awareness Week is a time to focus on letting those who struggle with these conditions to know they are not alone and to help others to have some understanding of these disorders. It’s so important to eliminate stigma so that people are comfortable reaching out and getting the help they need.
If you or a loved one are struggling with anxiety or depression, please call us at (310) 455-5258 or submit the form below to learn more about treatment programs.