FEELING anxious and depressed are emotions that we all can say we have experienced at one point or another in our lives. However, when either or both of these emotions and their associated symptoms start to affect us all the time, the conditions are referred to as anxiety and depression. Coping with these debilitating mental disorders, which clinical psychologist Dr Pearnel Bell says affects about 45 per cent of people with mental disorders, can be quite stressful as they wreak havoc on the body and mind.
Are you struggling with anxiety and or depression? Rest assured you are not alone; below, a few readers who struggle with the conditions share how they have managed to cope.
Michelle, 37, pharmacy technician:
I always keep a stress ball with me because anxiety and panic attacks don't have a set time when they come in. Some patterns and triggers may cause them to come on more frequently, but there are times when it just happens and knowing my stress ball is with me makes the episodes less scary. My go-to combination technique is the ball, plus deep breathing. It works better in private but is one of the easier ones to use in public. I also write and self soothe by combing my fingers through my hair.
Marcie, 41, insurance agent:
When you have anxiety, especially when it's severe, you feel like you are going to die. The most important thing I try to do is stare at an image, and focus. Another thing that helps is getting fresh air. Sometimes if I get an attack in the house or in my office I am going to rush to the door because I need fresh air. The downside to that is that I need to feel the fresh air regardless of the time (even if it's the middle of the night) so you know my partner has safety concerns. Now I am trying to achieve the same thing by opening a window instead.
Shawn, 30, engineering student:
I use this app called Calm — my therapist shared it with me and trust me it works. A part of it is free, but you may have to pay a little money for full access and I will tell you that it is worth every penny. There are daily challenges with yoga, soothing sounds and music that will help you to sleep, and tips to control your anxiety. Most nights when I struggle to sleep I just open the app, choose audio, and usually within 20 minutes I am fast asleep. Something that also helps me a great deal is exercising. To be honest, struggling with anxiety and depression is what made me start taking charge of my fitness. Recently I have started to try out hypnotherapy. I don't know if it's offered locally, but my mother found a specialist in Florida and if I am to be honest, I already see improvements.
Danielle, 35, nurse:
I was diagnosed with depression and anxiety as a nursing student. It was so crippling that I had to stay out of school for a year. During that year, while focusing on my health, I was able to figure out what works for me. First, I have to confront whatever is happening to me or my subconscious will eat at me. I also do general breathing exercises. These usually calm me quickly but are more like a Band-Aid, so as soon as I am out of the public eye, for example, I will take my medication, if necessary, then do something mindful like yoga or painting. I also do progressive muscle relaxation. This is when you clench and unclench each muscle group from head to toe. It's very relaxing.