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

Reviewed by Rashonda Douthit, LCSW

Published 03/10/2023

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 it is customary to express such feelings during a conversation. 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. Understanding when you should be concerned and what to do if you become emotionally overwhelmed is essential.

Knowing Mental Differences

Sometimes a person is depressed but also experiences anxiety. You can have concerns about pressure while also experiencing symptoms of depression. Understanding how both affect your mental health helps you know 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 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 thinking life is not worth living

Knowing Physical Differences

When you are depressed and stressed, physical signs stand out. Biological differences between feeling anxious or depressed may be exhausting for an individual. Anxiety has physical symptoms, 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, you’ll need to note the severity level to understand how your symptoms affect you. It entails knowing how long your symptoms are and how they affect you during the day.

People diagnosed with anxiety may experience symptoms for several months while impairing or having 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

If you think you have depression or anxiety, there are ways to get help. You can discuss diagnosis and treatment with your doctor or mental health specialist. Service is available if you lack health insurance or are on a budget. Mental health support through community centers, local churches, community colleges, and counseling centers provides additional options. There are mental health organizations that provide support and referrals to affordable alternatives.

As you consider getting help for your symptoms, note 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. Ask questions about the available medication 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 for the most benefit. There are many ways to get help; you are bound to find solutions that encourage you to control your symptoms. Be patient as treatment results vary. Seeing the proper 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 the 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 to do and the personal goals you want to achieve related to your symptoms. Once you understand what is causing your symptoms, you can plan action. Use a journal to record your stress and list solutions to help you cope. Use your plan to tackle your stress in small, doable steps. 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 manage stress more efficiently.

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, calming down at the end of the day, engaging in physical exercise, and learning 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.

Medication. People coping with anxiety or depression have options regarding 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.

Get Support From People That Care. You don’t have to suffer alone. Make a list of people you want to contact 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 you another perspective on your problems.

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