Help with Depression caused by Anxiety
Firstly, this article was written for those who suffer from depression that has been caused by anxiety and although it may help, it is not in any way saying that it is a cure-all for someone who is suffering from severe bouts of depression outside of anxiety. It is my personal story of what helped me overcome my depression brought on through my own struggles with anxiety.
A lot of people ask me if anxiety and depression are connected and in many cases, the answer would be ‘yes’. People who suffer from anxiety do go on to develop feelings of depression. This can initially occur due to a lot of confusion and frustration about how they are feeling, which can lead to a lot of overthinking and fighting of their condition, causing them to feel mentally and physically worn out.
When we begin to feel physically and mentally drained then everything can start to appear lifeless and flat. Those who suffer can struggle to find any joy in life and may start to isolate themselves. They may also find they have little to no energy, and simple everyday things can feel like a real chore. All of this can lead to more negative thinking about their situation and before they know it the first signs of depression start to show.
My own depression developed through constantly over thinking, worrying and fighting my condition. That, and the complete hopelessness of my current state and how it was restricting my life, led to a lot of self-pity and negative thinking. I was just so mentally and emotionally exhausted.
I always likened how I felt to a battery that was nearly flat. I could function but only at the bare minimum. There was no fun or enjoyment in anything anymore and began to feel incredibly down and started to withdraw from life and others. I also found it hard to socialise and do simple daily tasks; just getting through the day was an achievement.
Symptoms of depression
- Having little to no energy
- Finding no joy in anything
- Feeling hopeless, like nothing will ever get better
- Thinking is laboured and difficult
- Feeling constantly down and tearful
- Lack of self-esteem, feelings of not being good enough
- Finding conversations a real chore
- Oversleeping or finding sleep difficult
- Feeling constantly irritable
- Feeling paranoid about what people think
- Trouble concentrating, constantly concerned about oneself
- Physical aches and pains
- Lack of sex drive
- Feeling emotionally numb
Common behaviours of someone who feels depressed
- Isolating themselves, constantly cancelling on people
- Turning to food or alcohol to mask how they feel
- Lashing out at people around them
- Staying in bed, not getting up in a morning
- Constantly putting on masks to hide how they feel
- Overeating or hardly eating at all
- Overindulging in TV or Social media
- Lack of self-care, hygiene and personal appearance
Things I did that helped me to overcome my depression
The best thing you can do with feelings of depression caused by anxiety is to tell yourself that the way you feel is temporary. Start to invite new things into your day and start to live again. Don’t give in to how you feel. Remember that depression is a state of mind; it is not a true reflection of the state of the world. The world is not the depressive, fearful place it appears to be when we suffer. It is only our current state of mind that makes it appear so.
Before this realisation, I thought my depression was mainly due to the world, my life and others, and not my state of mind. This realisation helped me a lot as I now stopped blaming the world around me and my main concern now was, not to try and change the outside but to concentrate on sorting out the inside.
Before this realisation, I would blame others for how I felt, lash out and constantly snap at those around me. I realised deeply that it was not their fault and lashing out at those closest to me was not helping me. It was just driving people away and making me feel even worse about myself. So I began to take real responsibility for myself and started talking to others about how I was feeling rather than blaming them.
Resist the temptation to hide away
Even though initially it was difficult as all I wanted to do was hide away, I started to go for bike rides, walks and took up swimming to break up my old routine, shake off the cobwebs and take my mind off of how I was feeling. This helped me greatly and gave me another focus to my day instead of focusing on myself. Going out for a run, walk or any other form of daily exercise is far better than sitting at home brooding about how you feel. Exercise in itself releases endorphins, which are great for lifting your mood, and burns off all those stress chemicals that can build up through the day.
I also stopped eating junk food and started eating more natural foods as well as cutting down greatly on my alcohol consumption. Medication is a personal choice but I always believed that being outside in nature and a natural diet would serve me much better. For me, these were nature’s natural antidepressants without any of the side effects of medication and so I always headed down this route.
I also found it hugely helpful to fall into and allow the feelings of sadness fully; to just see it as just some inner weather passing through. I put no story around it, didn’t try to feel any different than I did and just let these feelings pass in their own time. It was far worse when I fought to try and feel different or put on fake smiles to cover up how I was truly feeling.
Cut out the negative thinking
Your thought patterns, along with your attitude, are also very important when overcoming anxiety and depression. Too many people begin to turn in on themselves and start to think negatively about themselves and their current state. Although this is understandable, it is not helpful and totally counterproductive, as thinking this way just becomes a habit – the habit to always think negatively – which in turn makes us feel worse and crushes our spirit even more.
These negative thoughts, when constantly repeated, can also become part of our subconscious and we get to the stage where we don’t have to think negatively, it just happens automatically. This is the stage when people can truly start to believe these thoughts to be true as they struggle to think in any other way, not realising that these constant negative thoughts are a by-product of their own conditioned thinking process.
The way out of this is not to fight these thoughts but to understand their nature and your own. Firstly all humans have the same value in life, we just think differently and that is what creates our reality and how we perceive ourselves and the world around us.
Someone who has confidence just thinks differently than someone who doesn’t and they just have more positive thoughts about themselves than someone who is lacking in confidence. When you lose confidence, the only thing that has changed about you is your thoughts about yourself, nothing else. You, as a person, are exactly the same.
No one is born better or worse than anyone else. No one has less or more value than anyone else no matter what life experiences they have had. You can see this when people have thoughts about being better than others. People will be repelled by them and say things like ‘who do they think they are?’ This is because inherently we all know we are all the same.
Thinking you are better than others doesn’t make you any better than anyone else and thinking less of yourself doesn’t make you have any less value than others. So it is not about trying to change these thoughts or looking for others to prove your worth or give you validation. It is about realising that these thoughts you hold about yourself hold no truth and certainly don’t tell the reality of who you are. Again you must realise that depression is not a reflection of who you are or your life situation, it is a reflection of your current state of mind.
It is also important to change your train of thought so as to no longer keep filling the mind with negativity. It is not just about letting the past negative thoughts die away, it is also about no longer creating fresh negative thinking. You don’t have to walk around trying to constantly think positively as this can seem like faking it. As long as you don’t go around constantly thinking negatively or believing your past negative thinking, then things will change automatically.
You don’t have to do anything apart from seeing your past negative thinking for what it is and letting it just die away through a lack of interest and belief. Just allow any old negative thoughts to be present and see them as separate from yourself, something you created through your past negative thinking process.
Just watch out for all the negative thinking you create and try and change the way you perceive things. Instead of saying “this is me now, nothing will ever change”, say “I don’t feel great at the moment, but I am going to make the changes and come through this”. Instead of saying “I have nothing to look forward to and I hate my life” maybe say ‘This is just a temporary part of my life that I have the power to change and maybe I’ll become an even better person because of it”.
Again I’m not asking you to put a fake spin on everything. When we feel this way it is hard to be positive about anything. But just try to think about things in a more neutral way rather than constantly filling your mind with more negative thoughts. The main thing is to try and have as little self-pity as possible and truly believe this is not you forever.
We create so much of our own suffering
Another important thing I realised was that how I felt was self-created through all the excessive over thinking, worrying and constant battling with myself. I could see clearly why I felt so flat, drained, detached and why I felt little joy in anything. I had caused my battery to run on empty and just as I was responsible for this, I would be responsible for recharging it too.
So I decided I would no longer mentally thrash myself and enter into a constant cycle of negative thinking, worry and stress. My depression was a huge wake-up call for me to change and my body and mind needed me more than ever now.
I fully expected to feel down, flat and mentally exhausted while my battery levels were so depleted. So from now on, I would accept my current state completely and just do the best I could until my mental battery started to recharge.
I could see why I struggled socially, why I found conversation so difficult and why I didn’t feel like doing anything. It now all made sense and I realised there was nothing to battle with or defeat here, in fact, it was doing this that had kept me in a cycle of exhaustion.
The best advice I can give and what truly helped me is to just carry on living your life and doing your daily chores, even when you don’t feel like it. Walk in nature, take timeouts, exercise, listen to uplifting music, mix with others, enjoy a good diet and, most importantly, be kind to yourself mentally by ending the constant daily battle and negative thought processes. Being patient and kind to yourself at this time is very important.
Suffering was my catalyst to change
I came through my depression because I made the changes above. These changes also helped me after my recovery and I did become a better person because of what I went through. I am a far more confident person than I was before my own suffering and I tend to always see the good in my life. This all came about because I understood the importance of living my life alongside how I felt; by allowing the low states rather than fighting them; by looking after my physical and mental health, by refusing to believe this was me forever and by not hiding away or wallowing in self-pity.
I am also very proud that I stayed positive and came through this very tough part of my life. This has given me a new inner strength; a strength to believe that I can overcome anything. I now no longer worry about anything I cannot change and understand that life has its ups and downs and won’t always go the way I want it to.
If I learnt one important lesson, it is that we were never put on this earth to suffer and that suffering is our alarm call. It is telling us that what we are doing is not serving us in life and that a change is needed.
Suffering can be your greatest teacher and the biggest wake-up call for transforming your life for the better. We just need to try and listen to its message. I am a far better person and live a far better life than before I suffered, so my suffering was my wake up call to change and I thank my suffering for sending me that message. If not, then I would still be the chronic, neurotic worrier I was back then, chasing the wrong things and not understanding where true happiness lay and what was truly important in life.