Understanding Anxiety and Depression

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At times, all of us have felt anxious and moody. Anxiety, in fact, is one of the universal behavioral indicators that are shared across regional and cultural boundaries. Anxiety and depression, in fact, are a completely normal part of human life. Who hasn’t studied for an exam without having test anxiety, only to score much more than what we’d anticipated? As an evolutionary mechanism, anxiety was fundamentally important to our survival as a species – it kept us alert and prepared for any foreseeable difficulty.

Trouble, however, starts when anxiety and depression seem to strike out of nowhere, last for weeks to month, and make everyday life difficult, if not impossible, then we are talking about a serious medical condition, not mere mood swings. Believe it or not, anxiety and depression are two of the most common mental illnesses in the world that strikes pretty much everybody at some point or time or the other in their lives. Collectively, a combination of anxiety, depression and sudden panic attacks are classified under “anxiety disorders”.

People suffering from anxiety disorder may display one or several of the following physical symptoms: trembling, sweating, muscle aches, nausea, fatigue, palpitation, dry mouth, and cold and clammy hands. On a deeper level, such people are usually emotionally apprehensive and irritable and suffer from a misconstrued feeling of impending doom.

One of the most common feature of anxiety disorder patients is a feeling of extreme self-consciousness. Such patients often feel that they are under continuous scrutiny, which, in the extreme forms, may even lead to complete immobilization, keeping the patient house-bound for months to years.

At the other end of the spectrum is depression, which is a serious medical condition that can persist for years and have some truly fatal consequences. It can affect your eating, sleeping habits, impact one’s self image and self-worth. It must be kept in mind that a depression is not the same as a blue mood, neither is it a result of personal “weakness” – a long standing, albeit misguided belief in society. Moreover, depression is not something that can be easily wished away if one lacks the physical and emotional environment to pull oneself out of it. Without treatment, depression can last for weeks to years; treatment usually involves medications and if required, psychotherapy.

Both anxiety and depression remain the two most widespread forms of mental illnesses in the world. But at the same time, they are also the most easily treatable – a fact that patients often look over.most common and most treatable mental illnesses in the world.