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Anxiety and depression: What it is and how to treat it

Dealing with depression and anxiety is hard. Explore the signs of depression and anxiety, along with natural remedies.

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December 21, 2021
6 min read

An estimated one in five British adults has anxiety or depression. And while the two mental health conditions have very similar symptoms and triggers—in fact, half of all adults who have either depression or anxiety also have the other mental health condition (i.e. mixed anxiety and depressive disorder)—they are not the exact same. Keep reading to learn the various symptoms of anxiety and depression, plus key differences in treating and dealing with depression and anxiety.

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Symptoms of anxiety and depression: identifying the signs of depression and anxiety

If you, or someone you know, are worried about having depression or anxiety, consult a mental health professional right away. 

While the following symptoms of anxiety and depression hold true for many people, every individual person’s journey is unique. Only a medical professional can quickly and accurately diagnose your mental health. The faster you see a professional, the sooner you can find wholeness and wellness.

Symptoms of anxiety

We all have moments in life where we feel temporarily stressed or anxious. Perhaps you might feel the pang of anxiety kick in right before an important work presentation, or when your child’s school calls you to say there’s a problem.

In contrast, a true anxiety disorder runs much deeper. It involves living in a state of fear and anxiety, day in and day out, to the point that it affects your friendships, relationships, career, and your general quality of life.

Symptoms of general anxiety disorder include:

  • Chronic fatigue.

  • Insomnia and other sleep problems.

  • Always feeling stressed, tense, and on edge.

  • Mental fog and lack of clear thinking.

  • Feeling constantly irritable or angry.

Symptoms of depression

Similar to anxiety, it’s natural to feel sad or low at different points of your life. But when you can’t seem to get out of this low state, and your energy levels and mood disrupt your daily life, you may have depression. 

Again, it’s not just about the symptoms, but also about how long you’ve been feeling this way. Depression is typically suspected when the following symptoms won’t go away after at least two weeks:

  • Feeling sad or empty.

  • Viewing yourself as worthless or unlovable.

  • Having little to no drive, motivation, or inspiration.

  • Difficulty sleeping (e.g. sleeping too much, not being able to sleep at all).

  • Loss of interest in activities, hobbies, or routines you previously enjoyed.

  • Changes in your hunger, appetite, or weight (e.g. rapidly losing weight or quickly gaining weight).

Risk factors for anxiety and depression

There are many shared risk factors and triggers for both anxiety and depression. Prominent examples include:

  • Your brain health—various hormones and brain chemicals play a key role in the development and management of mental health concerns.

  • Your age—both mental health conditions increase in prominence as you get older.

  • Your general health—various diseases, illnesses, and even prescription medications can affect your mood and mental health.

  • Your life experiences—past traumatic events often trigger anxiety or depression.

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Help with depression and anxiety: natural remedies for anxiety and depression

There are many natural depression remedies and holistic anxiety treatments that can help with depression and anxiety. Work with a mental health professional to see which of the following strategies work best for your personal diagnosis of anxiety, depression, or mixed anxiety and depressive disorder.

1. Talk to a therapist

There are many different approaches to psychotherapy, also known as talk therapy, and they can all help you to better manage your anxiety and depression by:

  • Understanding and identifying your thought patterns and internal dialogue. 

  • Proactively identifying your triggers and creating a plan ahead of time.

  • Managing your negative thoughts.

  • Working through past experiences or traumas that may contribute to your current mental health concerns.

2. Move your body

One in four adults in Britain are sedentary and don’t engage in physical activity of any kind. This statistic closely mirrors the number of adults who have depression or anxiety.

When you exercise and move your body, your body releases feel-good endorphins that help with depression and anxiety. Researchers have found that people with anxiety and depression report more balanced, elevated moods when they regularly exercise.

"There's good epidemiological data to suggest that active people are less depressed than inactive people,” says clinical psychologist Dr. James Blumenthal, in a report with the American Psychological Association. “And people who were active and stopped tend to be more depressed than those who maintain or initiate an exercise program.” The same report found similar beneficial outcomes for those with anxiety.

3. Put yourself back in control

Many people with anxiety and depression feel like they don’t have a lot of control over their own lives. Taking small steps to feel more confident, and more in control of your destiny, can help you feel empowered during life’s challenging moments.

For example, you could try:

  • Tackling a project that you’re good at.

  • Re-engaging with a hobby or personal passion.

  • Taking a workshop or class about a skill you’ve always wanted to learn.

4. Upgrade your nutrition

You are what you eat, and this idea may be one of the best natural remedies for anxiety and depression. There is a strong link between nutrition and mental health. A growing body of research in the field of nutritional psychiatry has found that what you eat, and the vitamins and minerals you consume, are directly correlated with depression, anxiety, and other mood disorders.

"Increasing evidence indicates a strong association between a poor diet and the exacerbation of mood disorders, including anxiety and depression, as well as other neuropsychiatric conditions," explains a study recently released in the peer-reviewed European Neuropsychopharmacology journal.

While more studies are needed, preliminary evidence suggests that:

Yet many people struggle to eat a balanced diet. And if you’re already struggling with your mood and mental health, you may find it hard to be motivated to cook a healthy meal or think strategically about what you eat.

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