TELUS Health Care Column – Managing Anxiety and Depression

Understanding anxiety

Anxiety disorders are the most common mental health problem, with 10% of Canadians affected by them.1

People with anxiety disorders experience long periods of intense fear or distress that is out of proportion to their real life situations.

There are a number of different types of anxiety disorders, but the symptoms produced by all types affect four areas: physical responses, thoughts, emotions and behaviours.2

Managing anxiety

Anxiety disorders can be treated successfully. The most common treatment is a combination of medication and cognitive behavioural therapy.

There are techniques people can employ to help reduce their anxiety.
Examples include:

  • Exercising regularly
  • Relaxation activities such as yoga, muscle relaxation exercises, deep breathing and biofeedback
  • Getting plenty of sleep
  • Avoid alcohol and recreational drugs
  • Avoid caffeine (commonly found in coffee, some teas, certain soft drinks and chocolate)
  • Be aware that some over-the-counter diet pills and cough and cold medications contain ingredients that can also increase anxiety.

 

Understanding depression

Depression is a common mental health disorder, and it differs from the usual sad moods that everyone experiences from time to time.

There are a number of types of depression, and they are all categorized as mood disorders.

Symptoms may vary from person to person, but some of the more common symptoms of depression include:

  • Feeling sad, guilty, worthless, helpless or hopeless
  • Losing interest in things that were previously enjoyed
  • Unexplained changes in weight or appetite
  • Sleep disturbances
  • Decreased energy or feelings of fatigue
  • Difficulty concentrating, remembering things or making decisions
  • Muscle and joint aches, headaches, cramps or digestive problems that don’t have an identifiable physical cause or that do not respond to treatment
  • Thinking about death or suicide

Managing depression

While people with severe depression may require a hospital stay, most people with depression can be treated with medication and psychotherapy. In addition to carefully following their medication and therapy regimens, there are a number of self-help techniques that can help manage depression which includes:7

  • Learn as much as possible about depression
  • Encourage your family to learn about depression as well
  • Watch for warning signs – things that might trigger or worsen your depressive symptoms
  • Avoid alcohol and recreational drugs
  • Eat nutritious meals and be physically active
  • Learn to relax and manage stress. Helpful techniques include meditation, yoga, tai chi and progressive muscle relaxation.
  • Don’t isolate yourself.

Questions?

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