Anxiety is an umbrella term covering several mental health disorders including Panic disorder, Phobia related disorders, Social phobias, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD), Separation Anxiety, Generalized Anxiety Disorder, and many more. Often the generic term is referring to Generalized Anxiety Disorder, a chronic mental health disorder that involves excessive and intense worry and fear. Generalized Anxiety Disorder is one of the most common types of anxiety, and the National Institute of Mental Health estimates that around 20% of American adults experience an anxiety disorder every year. The anxious mind can be filled with catastrophic outcomes, morbid prophecies, and an overriding sense of helplessness in the face of challenges. We don’t see ourselves combatting and overcoming difficulties consistently when we have anxiety. Instead, we sit on the sidelines and watch the unfolding of events and the decisions of others shape our lives.
Depression can strike without warning and can disrupt even the most gifted of lives. It can occur suddenly and with even the most common of disruptions like the end of a relationship, moving to a new city, or changing careers. Additionally, sometimes our genetics predispose us to emotional intensity and we experience depressive episodes even when our lives are running smoothly. No matter what causes the depression, many of us who struggle with depression develop a set of beliefs called learned helplessness. When we are helpless, we believe that we are unable to effectively influence or improve our lives, that our despair may never end, and often that it’s all our fault. We neglect solutions that could be effective and remain immobile in our resignation. We become increasingly saturated by our hopelessness, sadness, and self-invalidation as we spiral down into a throbbing emotional darkness. Depression becomes self-defining and all consuming. We are resigned to a life of self-recrimination and dejection. But that doesn’t have to be how your story ends.