The world is not what it was when our parents and grandparents were growing up. It is hard to believe in our 24/7 world that there was once a time when we were able to switch off our gadgets and our minds and just relax.
Now, there are so many demands on us – emails coming in at the speed of light, poor economy, a round-the-clock news cycle of despair – that more people than ever are succumbing to stress and anxiety.
Stress on the mind and body manifests in different ways, including sadness, depression, and even physical pain.
A 2011 study from the Center for Disease control in Atlanta states that prescription antidepressant use has soared by over 400% since 1998 in people over age 12. According to their study, over 9% of American adults will succumb to depression at some point. That is more than 30 million people!
Dealing with anxiety and depression does not have to be a life sentence. For most people, it is manageable, and often passes. It may be triggered by a life event, such as a move, a death in the family, divorce or unemployment. These life stressors tend to resolve themselves. We heal over time. Sometimes doctors recommend a short course of treatment with antidepressants; other times we muddle through until the pain lessens.
For others, it is a lifelong struggle against their own brain chemistry. Drugs will be prescribed, changed, tweaked, and supplemented dozens of times over the course of a person’s life, just to keep the sadness and crippling depression at a manageable level.
There are other ways that sufferers can find relief, too. Ranges of therapies exist to bring down the levels of anxiety and deal with the sadness that some people feel upon waking each morning.
– Routine. People who suffer from depression often fall out of their routine. It is easy to stay in bed all day, never dress, never go out, and rarely shower. However, those daily tasks create an important routine that gives structure at a time when a person feels they have nothing to cling to.
– Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. CBT with a professional therapist gives cheats or “hacks” to deal with stress and anxiety. From repeating a mantra-type phrase, to snapping an elastic band, CBT allows your thinking to be reprogrammed into something positive. For example, if a person is tortured at the very thought of attending a social function, that stress can be managed by learning how to relax the body and mind. This could be done with muscle exercises, or through yoga or other stretching. It could be as simple as listening to music.
– Talk therapy. Sometimes it helps to unburden yourself to an impartial third party. A therapist has no stake in whatever it is that is troubling you – they are there to listen and help you find solutions for the pain.
– Stay healthy. By maintaining a healthy diet and exercising regularly, your body does not have the added struggle of processing garbage through the bloodstream. A healthy body helps keep the mind healthy.