Providing A Light In A Dark World

Depression and anxiety affects many people in the United States and anyone can fall into their deadly grips. According to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) about 25% of US adults struggle with depression, anxiety or some combination of both. What is even more staggering is 50 to 60% of people living with depression and/or anxiety receive no mental health services.

How are depression and anxiety similar? According to the author Laurie Myers depression Vincent_Willem_van_Gogh_002and anxiety share a psychological component. This simply means both mental health conditions often creates isolation and prevents people’s ability to be in the present moment. This doesn’t mean there aren’t any differences because anxiety and depression differ greatly. The nice thing about this article is that it does highlight the commonalities between them thus healing approaches are beneficial for both.

According to Meyer’s mindfulness techniques helps decrease negative self-talk. Mindfulness tools help center people to become aware of their thoughts and rumination patterns. Thoma_LonelinessAnother useful tool is having clients build a family tree that promotes exploration how these two conditions have a genetic component to them. This is helpful for people experiencing intense shame around their mental illness. Helping our clients understand that they can take their power back by implementing a healthy regime (diet, exercise, getting enough sleep). Having this regiment helps the brain regulate emotions.

Neurocounseling helps to show the link between the brain structure and chemical processes that influence emotions. Exciting new Studies on the brain is showing a frontal asymmeWatts-Hope2try and how this affects both anxiety and depression. Out of these studies they have shown that the left frontal lobe is often associated with positive effect and when it is malfunctioning depression can manifest. Having an excessive active right frontal lobe creates anxiety. According to Meyers humans tend to have negative thoughts. Understanding the struggle with negative thoughts and normalizing them to our clients often have positive effects. Teaching muscle relaxation techniques to clients who suffer from anxiety is helpful due to the link between the body and brain. If the body is tense this signals to the brain there is something wrong thus creating anxious feelings.

Meyers concludes by concentrating on women and depression. She feels counselors should understand that there is a gender difference when it comes to depression and anxiety. Meyers believes that women often can suffer through life transition events. Women often transition from being a woman into being mothers and for some this is considered a loss. Another area of awareness that Myers encourages is the link between pregnancy and depression. Postpartum depression is widely known but what isn’t widely known is that women can become depressed during pregnancy. Women with a history of depression are more likely to develop pregnancy related to depression.

Source: Treating Depression and Anxiety by Laurie Meyers. Counseling today August 2015. Page 27 – 33.