Depression and Anxiety

 

 
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Depression and anxiety often go hand in hand. At times you may feel the impossibility of getting out of bed in the morning or feel hopeless and lost with the direction of your life. And at other times the overwhelm and anxiety of leaving your house or interacting with people paralyzes you with fear. Or you may suffer from anxiety or depression, and not a combination of the two. As these two states manifest in your life they can take on a life of their own. You may intimately know your depression as you would an old friend. Something you wake up to every morning and is present at each turn of your day. Anxiety may manifest as a jump in your stomach, a tightening in your chest, or a feeling of overwhelm keeping you constantly on guard for when it will show up again. It becomes hard to distinguish between excitement or anxiety and you chose to limit your activities so as not to be overwhelmed.  You may also turn towards drugs or alcohol to manage or get relief from your symptoms, which in the end exacerbate them.

There is a solution that can allow you to navigate the world and to live more fully than you are today. Life can be full again (or for the first time!) without the constant fear and dread that comes from living with anxiety and depression. You can learn to expand your capacity for life by expanding your ability to work with these internal states of anxiety and depression. As your window of tolerance grows for uncomfortable states, then so does your ability to feel into pleasurable states and feelings. The paradox is that when we want to shut down certain feelings or emotions that feel uncomfortable (or terrifying!) then we also shut down feelings that are pleasurable or wonderful. We don't get to pick and chose what to feel and what not to feel. So the way through this problem is to practice working with feelings and sensations so that our window of tolerance grows. Then we have more choices, more joy, and more possibility to live the life we want to live.

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Everyone has ups and downs. It's those who feel more than the average person (genetically or because of their history), or those who have experienced trauma who get stuck in the anxiety and depression cycle. There are many people who are sensitive to these states of mind and body, and paradoxically these people are often very loving, talented, intelligent, and capable people. This can make the pain of depression and anxiety especially acute because of the potential you know exists inside of you. 

You may have concerns about your own capacity for healing, or for the effectiveness of therapy with your particular issue. The reality is that often recovery from intense depression or anxiety is most effective from an approach that takes into account your history, your personality, your strengths and your family history. Accounting for these areas in your treatment will facilitate faster recovery and more integrated recovery. You may also be taking medications right now for your depression and/or anxiety and are nervous about getting off of them, either wanting to stop them or not.  My sense of medication is that it is beneficial for some people to reach a state where they can do the deeper work which leads to lasting recovery. And if you are hoping to transition off your medication then developing resources will be invaluable to your continued success. All these decisions made concerning medication should be consulted with your doctor so that you are getting the best care possible.

My experience working with depression and anxiety has been enhanced by my own journey. I have learned the best way to be of service to others is to walk ones own path, and for me that has taken the form of processing and learning from mental states and body sensations that accompany anxiety and depression. I found that when I turned towards the pain and uncomfortable feelings then they actually diminished in the light of my awareness. This is often difficult to do when feelings and sensations are especially intense, but the result is worth it!