Anxiety is one of the most widespread mental illnesses. We all know anxiety to one degree or another. But for some, the anxiety becomes long-lasting and so intense that they experience a paralyzing sensation that prevents them from doing ordinary everyday things.
What is anxiety?
Anxiety is a natural feeling, but for some anxiety runs rampant and develops into an illness.
Anxiety is a natural response to something that feels dangerous. Anxiety ensures that you react quickly and instinctively, and that you e.g. flees or defends oneself when one feels threatened. But some experience anxiety in situations that should not trigger anxiety – e.g. everyday situations such as shopping or taking the train. Here the anxiety reaction is out of proportion to the real danger.
There are many degrees of anxiety. Ranging from mild nervousness to severe panic attacks where you are convinced that you are going to die. Anxiety can feel like a paralyzing sensation that goes so far beyond the quality of life that you cannot lead a normal life. In generalized anxiety, the anxiety is present more or less all the time, but with fluctuations in intensity. It can also occur like lightning from a clear sky, as in panic attacks.
Anxiety can arise when you are stressed. And therefore anxiety is often a symptom of other mental illnesses and of many physical illnesses.
What are the symptoms of anxiety?
Anxiety can have both physical and psychological symptoms and also affects thoughts and behaviour. The physical symptoms are often more dominant than the psychological ones. It is e.g. palpitations, shortness of breath, nausea, tingling and numbness in the fingers. The psychological symptoms range from slight anxiety, tension and a feeling of unreality to fear of death and fear of losing one's mind.
Symptoms, thoughts and behaviors can reinforce each other and lead to a vicious circle where anxiety grows. You may have worries and thoughts of disaster and a lack of faith in being able to cope with the situation you are in, or perhaps you are afraid of losing self-control or your mind, or you have an experience that you are about to die. The symptoms may be present all the time, or they may come in attacks. They can be linked to certain situations or come out of the blue. It is common for different types of anxiety to occur at the same time.
It is different from person to person which anxiety symptoms you have. There is also a difference depending on the type of anxiety involved. There can be a variety of symptoms.
Typical symptoms of anxiety:
- The palpitations, the sweat and the shaking
- Dizziness and restlessness in the body
- Abdominal pain, chest tightness and breathing problems
- Sleep problems
- Black for the eyes
- Dry mouth and difficulty swallowing
- Nausea and muscle pain
- Concentration problems and irritability
- Restlessness and anxious thoughts
- Changed behavior in which one avoids or escapes from situations where the anxiety comes
There are good treatment options for anxiety. Treatment methods vary depending on the type of anxiety and the severity. It is also different from person to person which treatment is best. Psychotherapy and medication are the two most important forms of treatment. For some, a combination of the two is optimal.
Depression is one of the most widespread mental illnesses. When you have depression, you are sad and lack your usual energy. You have negative thoughts and have difficulty remembering and concentrating.
What is depression?
When you have depression, you are depressed and tired and lack your usual energy and drive, without necessarily being able to point to a cause. Life can seem heavy and unaffordable, and you may lack the energy to cope with everyday life. You may have difficulty concentrating and have difficulty remembering. The thoughts are negative and pessimistic, and you may feel that you have nothing to offer others. Many do not know when the depressive thoughts began. And some think, speak and move more slowly than usual.
There are many different degrees of depression, from sadness to deep despair, and some have difficulty feeling anything at all.
We all experience accidents, crisis or sadness, e.g. when we lose a person we love or lose our job. It belongs to a normal life with its hardships and crises. But this is not the same as having depression. Depression is a serious disorder that can reduce the quality of life and in some cases be highly disabling. The illness can make it difficult to manage work, studies and relationships. If you have depression, you can't just pull yourself together or think more positively.
It is important to be aware of the risk of suicide. About half of all suicides are due to depression, both among the young and the elderly. And people with depression have approx. 20 times greater risk of suicide than the rest of the population.
It is crucial to react and seek help from the doctor in case of symptoms of depression. As a starting point, the symptoms must have lasted for at least two weeks. But often they have lasted much longer, because it is difficult to recognize that it is a depression. Therefore, it is also often the relatives who first see that there is a need to seek help.
What are the symptoms of depression?
Depression affects both the psyche and the body. The psychological symptoms consist of, among other things in deep sadness, self-blame, guilt and low self-esteem, and some become irritable and irritable. Common physical symptoms are e.g. headache, chest pain, neck pain and back and stomach pain. It is the extent and severity of the symptoms that determine whether it is a case of depression.
Typical signs of depression:
- You feel sad, depressed and tired.
- Everything feels hopeless and meaningless, and you lack your usual energy and interest in the things you usually focus on.
- You feel that you are not doing well and are overwhelmed by negative thoughts that you can't do anything and that you are unimportant.
- You isolate yourself and do not like to meet others.
- You blame yourself and feel guilty for feeling the way you feel.
- You have difficulty concentrating and can't concentrate on anything.
- You have inner turmoil and are restless, or everything goes slowly and you are inhibited in thinking, speaking or moving.
- You have difficulty sleeping and you wake up often or early in the morning - or you sleep too much.
- You either have a greatly reduced or excessive appetite.
- You may have thoughts of suicide .
Depression can also lead to incessant brooding and worrying without finding a solution or getting anywhere. The thoughts run in circles and make the affected person more and more negative, restless, anxious and stressed. They are not thoughts that you want to have, but they press in without being able to get them away.
In connection with very severe depressions, perceptions can also arise that are colored by the depressive mindset and that are not correct. When the thoughts are completely fixed, there can be definite delusions.
What is the difference between types and degrees of depression?
Depression can manifest itself in many different ways. There are two types in particular that stand out. The melancholic depression is characterized by a constant inhibition of thoughts, feelings and movements and by a lack of appetite and sleep. The atypical depression is in many ways reversed with fluctuating emotions, hypersensitivity to influences from the environment and increased appetite and sleep.
Depressions come in different degrees of severity from mild depression to moderate and severe depression. Depression can come as a single depression or as recurring depressions or become chronic.
How does the disease develop?
Depression can manifest itself in many ways. It can creep up slowly over a few months, or it can come suddenly and unexpectedly like a bolt from the blue in a matter of days. Many people recover from depression, but it can also come back.
Depression often appears for the first time between the ages of 15 and 25, but it can also start earlier. And depression can also come quite late in life. If it comes at the age of 50 or later, you often only get a single depression.
Depression is often not treated immediately. This is because it can initially be difficult to see the symptoms as signs of depression, and as something that can be prevented and treated.
Many depressions come back again and again if they are not treated. Therefore, it is very important to get treatment and prevent the disease. Getting treatment late can have serious consequences, because studies suggest that each depression increases the risk of more depressions and of more severe and severe depressions. And the more depressions you have had and the more severe the illness, the more difficult it will be to treat. 10-30 percent risk developing chronic depression.
A depression typically lasts between 6-12 months if you don't treat it. If you have had one depression, there is about a 60 percent risk of having another depressive episode. If you have had two bouts of depression, the risk of a new depressive episode is around 80 percent.
Research suggests that there is an imbalance in the cooperation between different centers in the brain when you become depressed. This can happen in different ways – e.g. can stress and psychological strain affect the balance. Thoughts and emotions change the chemistry of the brain, just as chemistry can change thoughts and emotions. If the stress persists for a long time and you are biologically or psychologically vulnerable to depression, you can develop depression.
What is life like with depression?
With depression, you lose spirit, desire and joy, and this can have consequences, both personally and for family and work life. Maybe you don't say that much. Perhaps you are more tired than usual, and you may have lost the desire to go out and to be with others. You may also not feel like doing the things you normally like. You are sad, may cry easily and feel an inner emptiness and hopelessness. Maybe you are more irritable and can't take anything. Some find that their feelings are completely gone.
Some wake up e.g. at four or five o'clock with his head full of depressive thoughts. Some may find it difficult to remember and concentrate and easily lose track of things and are indecisive. Some also have anxiety. Others lose the desire for sex. You may find it difficult to remember the good experiences, and you may find it difficult to imagine that something good will happen in the future. At the same time, you can have negative expectations of others and become afraid of rejection. It can make the sufferer want to withdraw from others, but can end up worsening the depression.
Many do not feel good enough. They don't think they're making an impact and feel unimportant and perhaps even a nuisance. Some may think it would be easier if they didn't wake up tomorrow. And thoughts of suicide are not uncommon.
For many with depression, the ability to work is reduced, some take sick leave, and men in particular drink more alcohol than they usually do. Officially, women are affected by depression to a greater extent than men. Some believe that the figure may cover up the fact that women are often better at seeking help. However, major depression is equally common in men and women.
Depression can often be treated so radically that, over two to three months, a quality of life equivalent to that of the healthy population can be restored.
What treatment is available for depression?
There are good options for preventing and treating depression. Regardless of severity, psychotherapy is an important part of treatment. In the case of severe depression, medical treatment is also supplemented. Also, some people benefit from light and exercise.
Only about half of all people with symptoms of depression seek help from their own doctor. Many therefore do not receive treatment, and less than half are given the correct diagnosis when they go to the doctor. Furthermore, less than half of those who receive a diagnosis are given medication in sufficient doses and for a long enough time.
Untreated depression is not harmless. There is much evidence that the brain can be permanently affected, and that it can affect, for example, memory. Many also find that they become more sensitive to stress and find it more difficult to see different situations after a depression.
Once you have had depression, it often comes back again and again. In many cases, the depression becomes more and more severe and comes at shorter and shorter intervals. It is therefore important to prevent new depressions. This happens primarily by not stopping the treatment too early. Therefore, it is important not to stop treatment just because you feel better.