Anxiety and Depression – A Guide To Anxiety / Mental Health Charities And Organisations In The UK

Everyone can experience moments of anxiety which can end up with them suffering from depression from time to time. There are certain triggers associated with anxiety and depression which includes when you are having a hard time whether it’s a financial or emotional problem. If you are feeling low, seeking professional help sooner rather than later is vitally important for your overall health and well-being because it would be a mistake to keep things to yourself.

The reason being that the symptoms and negative feelings that are affecting you, could only get harder to cope with, bearing in mind that anxiety and depression can be likened to a physical condition which can be treated successfully.

What is the Definition of Anxiety?

The definition of anxiety can be described as a feeling of fear, worry and stress which can affect anyone. Anxiety symptoms can include the following:

• A feeling of being “on edge” or restlessness
• A fast/racing heartbeat
• Irritability
• Nausea
• Dry mouth
• Sweating

Suffering from anxiety and having to cope with the symptoms listed above, can seriously and negatively impact your daily life more especially if you cannot stop worrying about things no matter how big or small they are, most of the time. If you are experiencing any anxiety symptoms, you should seek advice from your GP who would recognise the symptoms of anxiety and would be able to offer valuable help and advice on how you can overcome the fears and stress you are experiencing.

What is the Definition of Depression?

Studies have shown that around 1 in 5 people suffer from depression and it tends to affect a person later in their lives. Depression can manifest itself in various ways with each person experiencing different signs of being depressed. Symptoms of depression can include the following:

• Being unable to enjoy life as you would normally do and lacking interest in things that you typically enjoy
• A reluctance to leave home or engage in activities you normally like doing
• A feeling of tiredness
• Sleeping too little or too much
• A loss of appetite or consuming more food than normal
• A loss of weight or weight gain over a shorter period of time
• A loss of self-confidence and a lack of meaning in life
• A feeling of guilt and being very self-critical
• Suicidal thoughts

Studies have shown that older people who suffer from depression, typically show more in the way of physical symptoms which includes the following:

• A loss of weight
• A feeling of tiredness
• Difficulty sleeping

If you experience any of the symptoms above on a constant basis or for longer than 2 to 4 weeks, you should discuss things with your GP or another medical professional as early as possible before your symptoms get any worse which can end up making life harder for you to cope with.

What Are The Causes Of Anxiety/Depression?

You can suddenly experience anxiety or depression for no reason at all, but in a lot of instances, there are specific triggers which can often include the following:

• Problems with finances and money issues
• The death of a partner, family member or close friend
• Family or relationship issues
• Retirement
• Poor health or a disability
• Moving home or other housing issues
• Being a carer
• The time of the year

Any of the above can trigger a feeling of anxiety or depression although not everyone would be negatively impacted. However, discovering what triggers your feelings of anxiety or depression, goes a long way when it comes to understanding why you are so affected by specific things or situations.

How Do Medical Professionals Diagnose Anxiety/Depression?

When it comes to diagnosing anxiety or depression, there are not tests as such, although your GP may carry out blood tests to establish if there are any other underlying health issues that may be causing you to feel anxious or depressed. A doctor would need to know your full medical history in order to get a good idea of your overall health and well-being, both physically and mentally.

A doctor would ask questions relating to your anxiety symptoms and be made aware of any changes in your life that you may have recently had to cope with. You may find it hard to answer many of the questions a doctor may ask you straight away but by preparing yourself for the appointment, it can help you overcome the problem. The following tips can help prepare you for any questions your GP may ask you during your appointment:

• Write down all your anxiety symptoms which includes the times of the day they are at the worst or if specific occasions make it harder for you to cope. Write down how long you have been experiencing the symptoms and how they negatively impact your daily life and your relationship with other people around you

• Write down the circumstances you feel could be contributing to the symptoms of anxiety you are experiencing

• Write down all the medication you take which should include any non-prescription medication and supplements you include in your daily diet

You should always be as honest and open with your GP bearing in mind that everything that you confide in them during your visit, is totally confidential and never shared with anyone else.

How Do Medical Professionals Treat Anxiety/Depression?

Anxiety and depression is mental illness which can be just as serious as any physical injury you may suffer from. As such, you can be successfully treated for anxiety and depression with many therapies now being available. If a GP finds that the symptoms you are experiencing are mild, they could suggest waiting a while before doing anything, offering advice on how you should deal with the symptoms in the meantime. This would offer the chance to see if your symptoms of anxiety improve over the following weeks and whether there is no improvement or if the symptoms get worse over time.

Other treatments for anxiety and depression are detailed below:

Talking to Fully Trained Professional

Talking to a trained professional helps you manage your feelings and thoughts. It helps explains how you are affected, how your behaviour and mood is impacted by specific situations. This type of therapy is referred to as “talking treatments”. Some examples being detailed below:

• Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT)
• Counselling

A trained professional might suggest you see them on a one-to-one basis or they may recommend you take part in group therapy “talking treatments”. If you feel that talking treatments might help you, you should let the professional you intend seeing if any of the following applies to you:

• Cultural needs
• Language needs
• Religious needs
• Hearing or sight issues

All of the above helps a trained talking treatment professional arrange the right talking therapy to suit your specific needs and it is worth noting that this type of treatment is free of charge on the NHS.

Applied Relaxation

Another effective anxiety treatment is known as “applied relaxation” which a trained practitioner carries out by teaching you various techniques in muscle relaxation. These techniques help you cope with feelings of anxiety that you experience in different situations and circumstances you find yourself in.

Medication – anti-depressants

A GP or medical professional might recommend you take specific medication to help you cope with the symptoms of anxiety and depression you are experiencing. This includes anti-depressants of which they are a number available and which are prescribed for people suffering from anxiety and depression. It is worth noting that anti-depressants are often prescribed in conjunction withtalking treatmentsand that the medication can take up to 2 weeks to have any effect from the date you start taking them. You may also have to be prescribed anti-depressant medication for several months depending on the severity of your condition.

To help with your recovery, you may need to take the medication and treatments you have been prescribed on an ongoing basis which would help ensure your overall, long-term health and well-being. Should you find that the symptoms of anxiety return, you should let your family and close friends know as soon as possible before making an appointment with your GP before things get bad again.

Can I Support My Anxiety/Depression?

You should never feel embarrassed by the fact you suffer from anxiety or depression because neither are a sign of being “weak” in any way. You should stay as active as possible and you may like to consider joining a local support group so that you get to meet and talk to other people who are in the same situation as you. Taking part in activities that boost your overall health and mental well-being, also helps you overcome any anxiety symptoms you may be experiencing. Groups worth considering includes the following:

Self-help Groups

It is always that much easier to cope with feelings of anxiety and depression when you are around people who understand exactly what you have to cope with because they too have to deal with anxiety and depression. This is especially true if you feel lonely or isolated. There are various self-help groups that offer lots of support to people who suffer from anxiety and depression, some of which are listed below:

• Mind
• Anxiety UK
• SANE
• Rethink Mental Illness

Make Sure You Keep a Social Routine

Local communities offer a selection of services where people can meet up when they feel the need to. There are also other places where you can learn new skills which is another way of keeping busy and occupied. By taking part in these activities, it offers you something to look forward to which in turn helps prevent the feeling of loneliness and isolation which can affect many people who suffer from anxiety and depression.

How to Cope With Anxiety and Fear

Coping with anxiety and fear can be debilitating and it is important to learn how to cope with situations, circumstances and other reasons that cause you to be anxious and fearful. The following tips could help you deal with day-to-day fears and get how to cope with your anxiety:

• Take time out so you can calm down when you start feeling anxious or fearful which in turn would help you think more clearly. A good way of doing this is to go for a short walk, to sit down and have a cup of tea or treat yourself to a soothing bath

• Try to breathe through your panic attack – it is not a good idea to fight a panic attack but rather to place your hand on your stomach and to breathe deeply and slowly which helps you relax and cope with the attack that much better

• Facing your fears – running away from anything that scares you makes things more frightening but if you face the things that make you fearful it helps you overcome your fears

• Imagining the worst thing that can happen – you may be anxious because you think that when you have a panic attack, you may also suffer a heart attack. If you try to imagine you are having a heart attack, you will find that it is impossible to do. In short, your fear will “run away” the more you choose to chase it away

• Examine the evidence – if you are scared of something whether it is being trapped in a lift and not be able to breathe, you should ask yourself how often this may happen to anyone. What would you tell someone who also fears being trapped in a lift and suffocating

• Do not try to be perfect all of the time – it is perfectly normal to have bad days and it is also normal to suffer set backs in life. As such, you should not try to imagine that your life has to be “perfect” all of the time

• Think of your happy place – by imagining your “happy place”, it helps you calm down and feel more relaxed about things because this is where you are the most relaxed and content with life

• Talk to someone – by sharing your fears about things with somebody, it helps make them less scary. A shared fear never looks as bad as if you try to face it alone

• Going back to basics – having a good night’s sleep, a nourishing, wholesome meal or going for a walk in the fresh air can help you overcome your anxiety and reduces the risk of you suffering from depression

• Don’t forget to reward yourself – by treating yourself for being able to do something you would not normally be able to cope with, helps reinforce that everything is okay. It is important that you reward yourself with things that you really like when you successfully cope with something that normally stresses you out

How to Deal With Panic Attacks

If you suffer from panic attacks and experience feelings of sudden and extremely intense anxiety, it can be very frightening. The symptoms you may experience in a panic attack could include the following:

• Feeling disoriented
• Shaking
• Rapid heartbeats
• Irregular heartbeats
• Nausea
• Dry mouth
• Breathlessness
• Sweating
• Dizziness

These symptoms can be so intense that you think you may be suffering from a heart attack and that you may die. A panic attack can last anything from 5 minutes to up to 30 minutes. Research has established that it is important that do not let your panic attacks control you and that the symptoms you experience are triggered by anxiety rather than anything dangerous or scary. Studies have shown that it is important to do the following:

• To “ride out” your panic attack
• To keep doing things
• Not to leave a situation until your anxiety is over
• To confront your fear rather than run away from it

Once your anxiety attack passes, it is important to focus on things around you and to continue doing what you were engaged in before your panic attack started. Breathing exercises are also helpful when you experience a panic attack which includes the doing the following:

• To breathe in through your nose as slowly and deeply as possible
• To breathe out through your mouth as slowly, deeply as you can
• To count from 1 to 5 with each breathe you take in and out
• To close your eyes so you focus on your breathing

By doing these breathing exercises, you should feel better after a few minutes although you may also feel quite tired. You may also need to find out whether you are suffering from a “panic disorder” and if you think this is the case, you should make an appointment to see your GP who would be able to offer valuable help and advice on your condition.

I’m Worried Because a Friend/Relative is Suffering From Anxiety/Depression, What Should I do

You may be worried that one of your relatives or friends is showing signs of anxiety and depression. If this is the case you should try to support them by doing the following:

  • Talk to them and if they are not ready, let them know you are there for them
  • Offer them reassurance
  • Visit them regularly, call them and stay in touch
  • Offer them encouragement and offer to go with them to see a GP or other medical professional
  • Make plans to take them on outings as often as possible

Offering support to a relative or a friend who is suffering from anxiety or depression can be extremely rewarding but it can be very stressful too. You may find that you need support which you can find by contacting the following:

• Contact Carers Direct
• Carers UK
• Carers Trust

Do You Need Urgent Help?

If you are experiencing the following severe symptoms of anxiety and depression, you should make an appointment to visit your GP as soon as possible:

• Your anxiety or depression has lasted more than several weeks
• Your anxiety or depression is negatively impacting your day-to-day life and activities

You can also call the Samaritans 24 hour helpline which is available 365 days a year free of charge.

Links to Websites Offering Helpful Reading

If different circumstances, situations or anything else causes you to be anxious and fearful about life, the following link provides essential support when you need it the most:

FearFighter

If you feel you need to talk to someone urgently, the following link takes you to the Samaritans where you will always find someone who is willing to listen to you:

Samaritans

Mind.org.uk

Mind is a UK charity that provides advice and support To find out more information, follow the link here.