Changing your beliefs and perceptions lead to the recovery from anxiety and depression, but what do those two psychological terms mean in regard to unhappiness and how are they connected to each other? Recognizing the not-so-obvious link can set people free from their doubts.
A textbook definition of anxiety will cite that it is a state of heightened concern regarding negative outcomes associated with specific situations and/or events. That heightened level of concern can be described as agitation, angst, apprehension, dread, fear, misgivings or nervousness, tension, twitchiness, uneasiness, or worry. The mental activity conjuring up negative scenarios can result in dry mouth, digestive upsets, headaches and rashes, among other symptoms of envisioning inevitable doom.
Some people who wonder how things will turn out don’t invest that much energy in doomsday predictions or ponderings. They let things develop on their own while relevant tasks are managed. But anxiety-filled people spend time scaring, perhaps sickening, themselves with unhappy imaginings. Think of a college student wondering if they’ll pass their courses despite the studying they’ve done as compared to passengers who frequently ask annoyed drivers and fellow travelers if they’re in the correct vehicle for a specific destination and someone twisting their fingers, a piece of fabric or skin as they contemplate an issue’s outcome though other people in similar situations calmly await developments. Anxiety runs the gamut from mild to severe.
Depression is the result of prolonged periods of anxiety. A state of despondency also known as hopelessness, it is a sense of doubt or excessive introspection that undermines the worried person in various ways.
Anxiety and depression imply a lack of action and a lack of trust. The hidden links between anxiety and depression, a lack of action and a lack of trust are why mental health professionals focus on convincing anxious or depressed clients to take walks, to make decisions, to fill in calendars or day planners, to honor commitments and to keep journals about what goes right in their ever-improving lives.
Remaining in the rut of unhappiness, however, guarantees the downward cascade of chemicals such as reduced serotonin, a steady supply of Norepinephrine and an excess of stress hormones. They damage the thinking process, accentuating a persons’ sense of doom and gloom.
Deeply unhappy people need to move in order to break free of their self-imposed ruts. Physical activity promotes the formation of chemicals called dopamine, endorphins, oxytocin and serotonin. They leave us feeling happy. Taking pride in personal efforts and increasing achievements adds to the joie de vivre. Designating dates for future actions and planning for progress are also essential aspects of the recovery process. Recovering people who build on those mood-improvers leave their anxiety and depression behind.
Taking action, making plans and developing positive expectations can improve formerly anxious or depressed lives far into the future.
As optimism grows with positive behavior, it is increasingly likely that a recovering person will stop focusing on negativity and instead concentrate on an “Attitude of gratitude” and other upbeat mindsets that improve over time. Do it often enough and optimism will become your automatic response to the vicissitudes of life.
Yocheved Golani is a popular writer whose byline has appeared worldwide in print and online. A certified Health Information Management professional, she is a member of Get Help Israel. Certified in Spiritual Chaplaincy (End of Life issues) and in counseling skills, her life coaching for ill people puts healthy perspective into a clients’ success plan for achieving desired goals.