Understanding Depression and Anxiety
Depression and anxiety may sound like opposite poles on a spectrum of mental health disorders, but they are very often interconnected. A person may experience high levels of anxiety as a symptom of their depression, and people with an anxiety disorder may trigger depression. It is very common for a person who has one to be diagnosed with the other. For both disorders, mindfulness, and relaxation skills can help.
Both are mental health disorders, with unique symptoms. According to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), the most common symptoms that people with a depressive disorder experience will have their symptoms for more than two weeks, feeling:
- Fatigued, with decreased energy.
- Slowed down, and even speaking slowly in some cases.
- Sad, empty, or anxious for no particular reason.
- Pessimistic, irritable, restless, or hopeless.
- Worthless, guilty, or helpless.
- Withdrawn or detached.
People with clinical depression may also notice other signs like:
- Changes in their sleeping patterns (oversleeping or developing insomnia).
- Losing interest in things they used to enjoy doing.
- Having no energy, with everything feeling a little more complicated.
- Changes in appetite, with weight loss or weight gain.
- Physical pains, aches, and ailments that have no apparent causes.
- Being unable to complete tasks or meet work responsibilities.
- Having difficulty remembering things, concentrating, and making decisions
- Changes in mood and behavior, like acting impulsively, substance abuse, becoming withdrawn or detached, or engaging in high-risk activities.
- Experiencing thoughts of death or suicide.
The NIMH website lists several types of anxiety disorders, each with its own sets of closely related symptoms, varying slightly. These include:
- Generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) is a feeling of persistent fear or dread that interferes with daily life and is disproportionate to reality. Other symptoms of GAD include feeling irritable and restless, consistently on edge, and worried. You may also have sleep troubles, unexplained body pains or stomach issues, and difficulty concentrating.
- Panic disorder is characterized by frequent, unexpected panic attacks that may include feelings of impending doom, discomfort, intense fear, hyperventilation, racing heart, sweating, trembling, chest pain, and feeling out of control.
- Phobias like a fear of needles, a fear of flying, and a fear of spiders are common phobias. A phobia is an intense fear or aversion to a specific circumstance or object. Someone with a phobia may worry excessively that they will run into the stress-inducing object or situation, taking steps to avoid it. If faced with their fear, it will cause intense anxiety and fear, that is disproportionate to the situation.
- Social anxiety disorder is an intense fear of judgment or being watched by others. It causes difficulty in being out in public or participating in social situations, which can become isolating, and hinder people from living their lives to the fullest, to the point where people may not be able to go to work or school or do everyday things like grocery shopping. Common symptoms are feelings of self-consciousness, fear of judgment from others, difficulty being around people they don’t know, racing heart, sweating, trembling, blushing, rigid body posture, and stomach aches.
These disorders can cause severe problems in your day-to-day life, hindering your ability to live the way you want to live, with severe stress, physical health issues, and interference with your relationships, work, and how you feel. Mental health disorders like anxiety and depression can also impact your self-esteem and your sense of self-worth, making it a complex cycle to escape from. Learn more about our Inpatient Mental Health Facilities for Long Beach Residents and get help now.
Not everybody has the same experiences with these mental health disorders. Some people will have all of the above-listed symptoms, while others may only have a few different ways of expressing themselves and coping.
Diagnosis of anxiety and depression can only be made by a mental health professional in Irvine or a physician, so if you believe you have one or both of these disorders, the best course of action is to book an appointment to discuss your symptoms and your treatment options such as a Long-Term Mental Health Facility for San Diego, CA, Residents.
Introduction to Mindfulness and Relaxation Skills
Along with therapy and medication, your healthcare provider may also recommend you try mindfulness therapy, deep breathing exercises, guided relaxation, or yoga for mental health as some additional holistic methodologies to help you handle symptoms of anxiety or depression.
While these types of treatments are not cure-alls, when used alongside evidence-based therapy (and prescription medications in many cases), they have proven benefits to a person’s overall well-being.
What is Mindfulness?
The Mindful.org website defines mindfulness as “the basic human ability to be fully present, aware of where we are, and what we’re doing, and not overly reactive or overwhelmed by what’s happening around us.” Basically, it is the process of focusing and paying attention to the bodily sensations, the thoughts in our minds, and the awareness of the feelings we are experiencing, through a lens of compassion for ourselves. When we stop and take stock of our tense shoulders, shallow breathing, and overly negative thoughts, we can change these things, changing how we feel.
What are Relaxation Skills?
A relaxation skill is any skill that a person can learn that is designed to relax the body, with calm breathing and focus. Standard relaxation techniques used for stress relief are guided relaxation, deep breathing exercises, mindfulness therapy, yoga, tai chi, and meditation. These types of exercises bring about the body’s relaxation response, with slowed-down, deep breaths, a slowed heart rate, and feelings of calm. Mindfulness and relaxation skills are essential for everybody to learn, as they are free to do and simple enough to take a break, wherever you are, to take a few deep breaths or stretch the body for a few minutes when life becomes overwhelming.
The Impact of Mindfulness on Depression and Anxiety
Mindfulness is essential when it comes to living with depression and anxiety disorder treatment in Irvine and Other Californian Cities. These conditions have us believing that we are in a hopeless, frightening, or frustrating world and that there is no cure. We are not our thoughts; we can make fundamental changes as soon as we notice what makes us feel this way.
Paying attention to the present moment in a focused and nonjudgmental way brings awareness to how you feel, your thoughts, and the situation surrounding you at any given time. Using mindfulness techniques, it is possible to identify unhelpful thought patterns, feelings in our body, emotional reactions, and more, and then take active steps to change these things for the better.
How Does Mindfulness Help with Depression?
A significant element of depression causing considerable distress to many is a thought process known as rumination. This involves the relentless dwelling on past missteps or embarrassments, or excessive worrying about the future. With mindfulness, one can pivot their attention to the present moment, disengaging from past occurrences and potential future uncertainties. This approach can be especially beneficial for those undergoing treatment at inpatient mental health facilities. Within such facilities, professionals often emphasize techniques like mindfulness to help patients gain perspective. By introducing self-compassion, individuals can observe and accept depressive thoughts and feelings from a detached stance. It’s vital to remember that one’s essence isn’t defined by their thoughts. While these thoughts originate in the brain, they don’t always reflect reality.
How Does Mindfulness Help with Anxiety?
Mindfulness practice helps you fully experience life, focus on your actions, and do things purposefully. It can help you calm the mind, focus your attention on the here and now, and bring you back into the present. As you take the time to focus on what you are currently seeing and experiencing, you can forget about the what-ifs and the worries.
The Impact of Relaxation Skills on Depression and Anxiety
Relaxation skills are excellent complementary therapies for stress reduction, as they help reduce the uncomfortable physical aspects of anxiety and depression like an increased heart rate, shortness of breath, and muscle tension. Taking action to reduce these symptoms can change a person’s day’s trajectory, giving them a newfound sense of control over their mental health symptoms.
How Can Relaxation Techniques Alleviate Depression?
Depression has symptoms that include an overall negative outlook on life. By practicing guided meditations, getting exercise, moving the body, and getting out into nature, you can increase the “feel good” chemicals in the brain, while at the same time reducing muscle tension and feeling proud that you gathered up the energy to do something positive with your day. Sometimes, when a person is in a depressive state, pushing oneself to do hardcore cardio can be too difficult, but even if you go for a walk or do a half-hour meditation session, you will see immense benefits.
How Can Relaxation Techniques Reduce Anxiety?
People hold a lot of tension in their bodies, which is exacerbated by anxiety. Life’s hectic pace can also add to a person’s growing anxiety.
By taking a few moments to practice relaxation exercises, you can move the body into a state of relaxation, easing tensed muscles, and allowing yourself the space to breathe with a calm mind. This can act as a “reset,” so you can return to a more peaceful state of being.
Practical Mindfulness Techniques for Daily Practice
Mindfulness techniques can be simple, daily practices that only take a few moments. You can try meditation for mental health, setting daily intentions, or mindful deep breathing exercises. Some people will take a walk, while others enjoy yoga for mental health.
Meditation for Mindfulness
To meditate for mindfulness, you must focus on your awareness of the present moment without judgment or interpretation. Sit on the couch, lay on a yoga mat, or take a walk and turn your thoughts toward the now.
Mindful Breathing Exercises
To practice mindful breathing, focus on the natural rhythm of your breath as you inhale and exhale. Think about how air flows into the lungs, and how it feels. You will likely feel an instantaneous reduction in your stress after only a few minutes.
Mindfulness Through Yoga
Focusing on the present moment, how the body feels, the breath, and the poses while letting the outside world drop away can be intensely refreshing. Rather than worrying about how you look or whether you have the pose perfect, the point is to focus on mind-body awareness.
Practical Relaxation Skills for Everyday Use
There are several ways to relax the body, slow down breathing and heart rate, and introduce calm into your life. A few standard techniques are:
Progressive Muscle Relaxation
Simply tense each muscle group, one at a time, exhale, and let the muscles fully relax before moving on. Focus on the way each muscle feels as it releases.
Picture yourself already succeeding at the task that is on your mind. Whether the goal is making new friends or getting a job at a specific company, do your best to see the best possible outcome in your mind, imagining it as reality. This can reduce anxiety surrounding a specific situation.
Deep Breathing Exercises
Intently breathing slowly through your nose, allowing the chest and belly to rise, and then slowly exhaling will calm the central nervous system and release tension in the body. Doing so for ten minutes daily can significantly benefit your overall mental well-being.
Frequently Asked Questions About the Depression Self-Care Tips: Mindfulness and Relaxation Skills | Depression and Anxiety
Q1: What are mindfulness and relaxation skills and how can they help with depression and anxiety?
Mindfulness and relaxation skills are simple, practical tools and actions you can use daily to reduce tension in the body, receive negative thoughts without judgment, and improve your day-to-day quality of life, like deep breathing, yoga, and meditation.
Q2: Can you explain some basic mindfulness techniques that can be practiced daily for managing depression and anxiety?
Simple mindfulness techniques include mindful breathing (focusing on taking slow breaths), meditation (paying attention to the present moment, with no judgment or interpretation), and mindful yoga (stretching while paying attention to the mind-body connection and how you feel).
Q3: What relaxation skills can be incorporated into everyday routines to help manage depression and anxiety?
You can try progressive relaxation of your muscles, by tensing and then relaxing different muscle groups and noticing how the body feels as the muscles relax. Deep breathing exercises are also a good way to calm the nervous system instantly. If you feel “stuck” due to depression or anxiety, visualization techniques can help you imagine and create a better future for yourself.
Q4: How can I start practicing mindfulness if I’ve never done it before?
All you have to do is pay attention to the present moment. This means focusing on how you feel, what you see, hear, smell, etc. with no thoughts about the future, the past, or what you have to do later.
Q5: Are there any specific relaxation exercises that are particularly beneficial for individuals with depression or anxiety?
Along with hard cardiovascular exercises that produce endorphins, relaxation exercises that involve spending time outdoors, like hiking or gardening, and programs that include mindfulness like yoga or guided meditation, are often beneficial to those with depression or anxiety.
Q6: How do mindfulness and relaxation impact mental health in the long term?
These types of techniques can improve your overall quality of life, satisfaction, and emotion regulation, and give a more positive outlook. Symptoms of anxiety and depression can also be reduced through mindfulness practice and relaxation, especially when incorporated into a long-term routine.
Q7: Can mindfulness and relaxation techniques replace medication or therapy in treating depression and anxiety?
No, these types of holistic techniques should not replace medication and therapy in treating depression and anxiety, but they do make an excellent addition to therapy and medication.
Q8: Are there any resources or apps that can guide me through mindfulness and relaxation exercises?
Yes, hundreds of different apps help with these types of exercises, with guided meditation, body scan instructions, guided imagery, deep breathing exercises, and mindfulness techniques. Although Headspace is one of the most advertised of them all, there are several free apps you can try, like The Mindfulness App, Insight Timer, Healthy Minds Program, Buddhify, Calm, and Breathe. They are all unique in format and what they offer, so you may want to try a few to see which ones work best for you.