Feeling Depressed Or Anxious? When To Be Concerned And What To Do About It

Reviewed by Rashonda Douthit, LCSW

Published 01/07/2021

It is common to feel depressed when sad or disappointed about something. It is also common to feel anxious when under pressure to meet demands. These emotions are part of life, and during a conversation, it is normal to express such feelings. But when you experience them more often as if they seem to overlap or notice specific symptoms making it more challenging to get tasks done, such emotions can take a toll on your mental health. Such emotions drain energy and may lead to unhealthy behaviors. It is essential to understand when you should be concerned and what to do if you become emotionally overwhelmed.

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Knowing Mental Differences

Sometimes a person is depressed but also experiences anxiety. You can have concerns about anxiety while also experiencing symptoms of depression. Understanding how your mental health is affected by both helps you understand when you should be concerned. Feeling anxious is normal when preparing for a test or waiting for results.

When having issues with anxiety, symptoms may include but not be limited to the following:

  • Worry more often about what may happen in the future
  • Racing or uncontrollable thoughts that something might happen
  • Avoid certain places, things, or people to prevent overwhelming feelings of anxiety
  • Perceived fear, danger, or have thoughts about death with a risky outcome

When anxiety seems overwhelming, where your thoughts and emotions make social situations difficult, it is something to address with your doctor or a mental health professional. Anxiety levels vary from person to person, but it could be a condition such as generalized anxiety disorder or social anxiety disorder (SAD). High anxiety levels make it challenging to socialize with others while fearing rejection or negativity from others.

A person may feel depressed if they feel sad about losing a loved one or a job. But persistent sadness with mood swings is a concern that should be addressed. When having issues with depression or feeling depressed, symptoms may include but not be limited to the following:

  • Feel hopeless and think there is no reason to be optimistic about their future
  • Feel things are not worth trying because they feel so hopeless
  • Believe they are worthless or they don’t add value to anything
  • Thoughts of death, feeling as if they are a burden to others, or think life is not worth living

Thoughts of self-harm sometimes occur with depression. Major depressive disorder includes these points with such thoughts occurring persistently for days or weeks. Other types of mood disorders like bipolar depression include high and low changes in mood. Support and assistance are available for suicidal thoughts through the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800+273-8255.

Knowing Physical Differences

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When you are depressed and stressed, there are physical signs that stand out. Physical differences between feeling anxious or depressed may be exhausting for an individual. Anxiety has physical signs, including racing thoughts, agitation, problems sleeping, dizziness, increased heart rate, muscle tension, and shortness of breath. Some experience stomach discomfort from constipation, nausea, or diarrhea. Someone with depression may have problems concentrating, ruminating thoughts, lack energy and appetite, have aches without a cause, sleep too much or too little, and talk or move slower than usual.

How Are Your Symptoms Affecting You?

It is common to feel sad or experience anxiety related to everyday stressors like handling tasks at home, dealing with personal finances, or adjusting to a medical diagnosis. Therefore, to understand how your symptoms affect you, you’ll need to note the level of severity. It entails knowing how long you’ve had your symptoms and how they affect you during the day.

People diagnosed with anxiety may experience symptoms for several months while impairing or difficulty socializing with others and getting responsibilities done. Assess how symptoms affect you when completing tasks. Learn about variations in symptoms for depression and anxiety to see if your symptoms are mild, moderate, or severe. Record and review your results to gain a visual idea of how your symptoms affect you.

Getting Help For Your Symptoms

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If you think you have depression or anxiety, there are ways to get help. You can talk to your doctor or mental health specialist about diagnosis and treatment. Help is available if you don’t have health insurance or you’re on a budget. Mental health support through community centers, local churches, community colleges, and counseling centers provide additional options. There are mental health organizations that provide support and referrals to affordable alternatives.

As you consider getting help for your symptoms, make a note to mention which ones give you the most concern and why. When meeting with the medical or mental health professional, use that time to provide as much information as possible about your symptoms and how they affect your daily living. It helps them determine the best diagnosis and treatment while establishing achievable goals to work toward. Ask questions about what medication is available and what might work for your symptoms. Keep your appointments even when you don’t feel like going. Keep your actions consistent so that you can benefit from the treatment.

You don’t have to be ashamed of your symptoms. When you seek help, it shows strength and says you are committed to feeling better. There is nothing wrong with seeking professional help. Once you start the process, stay committed to getting the help you need to get the most benefit. There are so many ways to get help; you are bound to find solutions that will encourage you to control your symptoms. Be patient as treatment results vary.  Finding the right professional to work with makes a difference, and they should help you feel comfortable during treatment while helping to determine the best course of treatment for you.

How To Help Yourself

There are many ways to manage anxiety and depression. Whether you think your symptoms are on the low end or you feel you need to talk to someone about them, you have options. As you consider how to address your symptoms, think about how they affect your life, and review forms of intervention you might benefit from the most.

Consider Your Options And Make A Plan. To help yourself in the best way possible, consider all of your options, including what you have access to and the personal goals you want to achieve related to your symptoms. Once you understand what is causing your symptoms, you can plan to take action. Use a journal to record your stress and make a list of solutions to help you cope. Use your plan to tackle your stress into small, doable actions. Consider ways to manage your issues and take note of what solutions work best. If you make a mistake, acknowledge it and move forward. It is part of the learning process and helps you become more efficient when managing stress.

Self-Help Techniques. People with mild symptoms may find ways to manage them themselves. The self-help approach includes different options such as apps, books, and activities like mindfulness to encourage healthy habits to remedy their symptoms. Using a variety of self-help methods may provide better results. Still, symptoms affect your ability to work, complete responsibilities, or impact relationships; you may want to consider additional alternatives to incorporate with your self-help options. Techniques may include looking at ways to change your eating habits, how to calm down at the end of the day, engage in physical exercise, and learn ways to keep stress levels low.

Talk Therapy. Also known as psychotherapy, you can talk with a therapist about your thoughts and feelings associated with your depression or anxiety. Different therapy types are designed to help you understand thought patterns and how they affect emotional and physical behaviors. You can speak freely about things that bother you without being judged. Cognitive-behavioral therapy is effective in helping people cope with depressive and anxious thoughts. You learn how to approach unwanted feelings while helping you achieve more positive emotions, thought processes, and improved interactions with others.

Medication. People coping with anxiety or depression have options when it comes to prescribed meds. There is a vast selection, but choosing the best option will depend on your symptoms and the outcome you and your healthcare provider want to achieve.

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Get Support From People That Care. You don’t have to suffer alone. Make a list of people you want to reach out to when you need to talk. It helps to have a good listener when you need to get things off your chest. Withholding toxic feelings can make you feel worse. Be proactive by talking about it and getting an opinion from someone that cares. Talking to someone you trust can give another perspective to your problems.

When you are concerned about how your emotions affect your life, there is help available. Spend time learning about help options and recommendations. It will help determine a path to take toward managing your symptoms and getting the relief you need.