How Journaling Can Help With Anxiety and Depression

Mental health is often pushed aside or ignored in the world we live in today. Self-awareness and emotional care tend to take a back seat to other tasks. However, when people prioritize their health, they have more positivity and love to give to others.

People worldwide need healthy minds now more than ever in the wake of the recent COVID-19 pandemic. In this post-pandemic world, close to 50% of the general population experienced symptoms of depression and anxiety.

Statistics on Mental Illness

The global pandemic drastically affected people’s long-term and short-term mental health. A 2020 study examined over 400 COVID-19 survivors. The results were staggering. Those surveyed were in range for a number of serious mental health disorders, including:

  • 28% for PTSD 
  • 31% for depression
  • 42% for anxiety
  • 20% for OC symptoms
  • 40% for insomnia

Across the board, 56% scored in at least one clinical condition range. One study found over 26% of participants met the criteria for depression and anxiety. Both conditions have distinct symptoms and often co-occur.

Symptoms of Depression

While there are many causes of depression and multiple forms of this disorder, the DSM-5 recognizes 9 general symptoms of major depression:

  • Sleep disturbance
  • Interest/pleasure reduction
  • Feelings of guilt or thoughts of worthlessness
  • Energy changes/fatigue
  • Concentration/attention impairment
  • Appetite/weight changes
  • Psychomotor disturbances
  • Suicidal thoughts
  • Depressed mood

Symptoms of Anxiety

Like depression, multiple forms of anxiety exist. Each variation has distinct qualities, but symptoms found in general anxiety disorder (GAD) involve three or more of the following:

  • Restlessness, feeling keyed up or on edge
  • Being easily fatigued
  • Difficulty concentrating or mind going blank.
  • Irritability
  • Muscle tension
  • Sleep disturbance (difficulty falling or staying asleep, or restless and unsatisfying sleep)

Managing Mental Health

Conditions like anxiety and depression, whether standalone or co-occurring, can weigh heavily on an individual’s mind and body. While treatment is the most effective path to healing, there are things individuals can do at home to better manage their mental health.

Physical activity, breathing exercises, and yoga are just some of the great options that have no financial cost and are full of healthy benefits for the mind. One of the greatest options for at-home methods of healing is writing things down. Journaling costs nothing and provides positive and habit-forming emotional support.

The Benefits of a Journal for Anxiety and Depression

Facing mental health challenges isn’t easy. Talking to others about things might be hard for some individuals and processing emotions on their own can be equally difficult. When an individual takes up journaling, they have a unique opportunity to get everything they’re feeling and thinking out and onto the page.

Exercising this way of self-expression allows individuals to write freely without worrying about grammar or punctuation. They’re able to revisit any day and evaluate what they wrote and how they’ve progressed. Self-reflecting in this way can help people understand themselves and how their mind works. As they progress in their writing journey, individuals will likely notice patterns in their emotions during the good times and the not-so-good times.

Evaluating patterns and noting specific details are extremely beneficial ways to learn and grow. Individuals will be able to gradually train their brains to adapt new and positive thought processes that can boost their mood and alleviate negative symptoms. This journal can also be an invaluable tool in the treatment of anxiety or depression. The individual and their therapist can come together to problem-solve and reflect for future healthier habits.

Other Writing Styles

While journaling is certainly an effective form of writing for mental health, it’s by no means the only option. Jotting down the day’s events or emotions may not be appealing to everyone. That’s okay! There are many other ways to effectively put pen to paper.

Writing poetry is a great option for expressing anxiety or depression. One can still convey how one feels or what one is thinking in a beautiful and intentional way. Alternatively, short stories can aid emotional expression through creativity and imagination.

How Treatment Can Help

Though journaling and mental health self-management are big factors in healing, treatment can play a crucial role in overcoming anxiety and depression. Therapy and often medication are key components to treating these disorders. A therapist can provide clients with prompts for their journals and help them recognize problems or patterns along the way. Through therapy, individuals can learn proven techniques for adjusting how they perceive obstacles preventing them from living a healthy and fulfilling life.

Medication is often prescribed for the treatment of anxiety and depression. Anti-anxiety medicine can boost neurotransmitter activity to help individuals feel calm. Antidepressants help regulate mood by boosting serotonin levels for happier days. A doctor can help individuals decide if taking medication is right for them. With proper diagnosis and care, anyone can tackle each day and overcome the challenges they face.

The cloudy days that anxiety or depression can cause are challenging and can leave you feeling hopeless. Those days can steal your light and your freedom. You don’t have to face these struggles alone. At Alter Behavioral Health, we care so much about you and your future. Let us show what life can be like free of anxiety and depression. We have a variety of resources available to help clients achieve better mental health on a schedule that works for them. With the best available treatment and care, we can be the hope and light that you need to overcome the challenges you face. Call us today at (866) 691-4386 to get started.