Depression is becoming commonplace among the UK’s population, and as lifestyles become busier and busier, stress and anxiety have become the norm. While studies have shown that a moderate amount of stress may be good for you, maintaining such a balance is easier said than done. For all too many, the good/bad stress scale tilts in an unhealthy direction, and stress grips hold of our lives, quickly followed by anxiety, and all too often, depression.
Stress: How Does it Affect Us?
In small, healthy amounts, stress can be a stimulator to encourage the pursuit of our goals and engage with our everyday lives. A tiny amount of stress encourages us to take the extra time to prepare for that job interview, stand up for what we believe in despite adversity, or perhaps strike up the courage to tell someone we love them. However, when stress is chronic, unrelenting, and repeating, it can actually transform from simply affecting our emotional or mental capacities, and in fact, make us ill. Stress weakens the immune system and literally dries out the digestive tract. It can impair memory and strip the ends of chromosomes, which then expedites cellular ageing. And, ultimately, it can fuel anxiety, an uncontrollable feel of unease or worry, which can accelerate the path to depression.
Anxiety: Coping with Worry
Worries can preoccupy even the most mindful, however, when worry slips out of control and claims a stake on our mind, it transforms into chronic anxiety, which is a constant companion that affects daily life. Anxiety can come about from a panic disorder, from phobias, or post-traumatic stress disorder among others - or perhaps, no reason at all. It is a long-term condition that is hard to shake and makes it difficult to relax. Anxiety is much like the Greek monster Hydra: as soon as one worry is addressed, another two spring up in its place. This condition can leave people feeling restless, make it difficult to concentrate or sleep, or even lead to dizziness and heart palpitations. Left unchecked, it can spiral into depression.
Depression: Signs and Symptoms
In the UK, one in four people suffers from depression at some point in their life. While the experience of dissatisfaction and unhappiness is not unordinary, depression extends beyond this to include a persisting low mood. Exhaustion, restlessness, insomnia and appetite loss are all common symptoms of depression. People report losing interest in their life and are not able to enjoy what they used to love. All of these symptoms will differ for each person and exist on a spectrum from very mild to extreme. The most severe cases result in thoughts of self-harm or suicide. Depression can come on slowly and gradually, and sometimes without any obvious trigger. While depression can be overcome with the right help and treatment, it is also common for depression to return, which is why an intentional approach to managing stress, anxiety, and depression is so crucial for all.
Cognitive Behavioural Therapy & Cognitive Behavioural Coaching: A Solution
One of the ways to address stress, anxiety, and depression is through cognitive-based therapy (CBT). The foundational idea behind this approach to healing is that actions, emotions, physical sensations, and thoughts are all interconnected. Through CBT you can train your thoughts and gain greater control over your thinking. All of this leads to a greater sense of calm and relaxation throughout your everyday life. Issues like stress, anxiety, and depression are no longer overwhelming or intimidating but can be responded to from a place centred in peace and rational thinking. CBT and CBC, in short, provide the tools to understand and interpret the symptoms and experiences of stress, anxiety, and depression in a healthy and positive way. Alone, these conditions can feel overwhelming, but with new skills and tools to use, it is possible to feel better.
Big hugs to all and much love,