While everybody feels sad or blue every once in a while, many people suffer from an actual medical condition, known as depression, that affects their lives on a daily basis. Depression is characterized by constant feelings of sadness or emptiness, and may be triggered by certain events or co-exist with other illnesses.
There are several different depressive disorders, but major depressive disorder is the most common. Symptoms of major depression include:
- Feeling sad or hopeless
- Loss of interest in normal activities
- Crying spells
- Trouble sleeping
- Trouble concentrating
- Aches and pains
- Suicidal thoughts
Like other psychological disorders, the cause of depression is not specifically known, but is believed to be a combination of genetic, biological and environmental factors. Depression often occurs with other illnesses including anxiety disorders, substance abuse, heart disease, stroke and cancer.
Although depression can be a serious condition, it is highly treatable. It is important to talk to a doctor if you are experiencing symptoms to help prevent the condition from worsening. Treatment of depression typically includes medication and psychotherapy. Following effective treatment methods can help make depression a manageable and much less dangerous condition.
While we all worry about important issues in our everyday lives, some people are constantly worrying over the littlest things and let it affect the way they live. If you are always feeling anxious and have trouble concentrating, you may suffer from generalized anxiety disorder (GAD). GAD is a common anxiety disorder that affects about 4 million people in the US each year.
Causes & Symptoms of Generalized Anxiety Disorder
The exact cause of GAD is not known, but it is believed to be caused by a combination of biologic, genetic and environmental factors. Symptoms appear gradually and most commonly begin during childhood or adolescence, although it can begin in adulthood as well. People with GAD may experience:
- Excessive and constant worrying
- Trouble concentrating
- Trouble falling or staying asleep
- Hot flashes
Diagnosing Generalized Anxiety Disorder
Generalized anxiety disorder is typically diagnosed through a full review of your medical history and questions about your symptoms. Patients need to have experienced the following criteria in order to be diagnosed with generalized anxiety disorder:
- Extreme anxiety about various activities most days, for at least six months
- Trouble controlling anxious feelings
- Anxiety causing considerable distress or interfering with day-to-day activities
- Anxiety not related to another condition
- A minimum of three of the following criteria experienced by adults or one of the following if experienced by children: fatigue, trouble sleeping, irritability, restlessness, muscle tension or difficulty concentrating
Treatment for Generalized Anxiety Disorder
Generalized anxiety disorder is typically quite treatable through clinically proven, evidenced-based psychotherapy approaches. Treating your anxiety, may also improve other areas of your life including your career, relationships, memory and sleep. In some cases, medication may be necessary, or a combination if both. Seeking a trusted professional, like Dr. Annette Brissett, to help you understand your specific symptoms, sources of problematic fears, and how to successfully manage them, will help you to effectively free yourself from unnecessary worries, and live an optimal life!
Preventing Generalized Anxiety Disorder
There is no surefire way to prevent anxiety; however, there are certain measures that can be taken to reduce its effects on your daily functioning. These include following your treatment plan, learning about your condition, sleeping enough, exercising regularly, and having a strong support group of friends and/or family.
Psychotherapy treatment involves a variety of structured, well-researched methods for modifying a person's emotional or behavioral patterns that interfere with healthy functioning and coping. Psychotherapy, also known as talk therapy or counseling is done by a psychologist, skilled in evidenced-based cognitive-behavioral techniques, which can help you learn more effective ways to identify underlying feelings, and challenge unhealthy thoughts, moods and behaviors associated with them. Psychotherapy can help relieve problems caused by emotional difficulties or other stressful life issues including grief, anger, relationship problems, eating disorders or personality disorders. Sessions typically last 50 to 60 minutes and can be done alone, or with others such as family members. Some of the most effective psychotherapy approaches used are:
- Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy: a structured, well-researched, problem-solution focused approach that aims to collaboratively assist individuals to identify improper automatic thoughts and self-perceptions that may be contributing to problematic behaviors. Through this approach, the psychologist assists the individual to develop newer, more effective thought processes, allowing them to make better, more accurate assumptions about themselves and others. It can successfully change behaviors, providing the individual with a better understanding of their situation and allowing them to positively change their ways. With a willingness to be open, honest and form a partnership with your psychologist, psychotherapy can be extremely successful.
- Interpersonal Therapy: focuses on an individual's current relationships and problems and how these are associated with interpersonal conflicts or disputes, lowered self-esteem and social role transitions to name a few. This approach aims to improve social skills and boost self-esteem and interpersonal therapy works especially well for depression.