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Image by Sydney Sims


Thankfully, these days there is a lot less stigma attached to anxiety and depression, but lack of judgement doesn't always equate to better understanding.

People who are suffering from anxiety and/or depression tend to wait until it's unbearable - or worse still, normalised -  before reaching out to their general practitioner. The physician will then use their allocated five minutes to prescribe one of many pharmaceutical interventions.

"Many high performing professionals take these, don't're not alone" is a phrase too often heard in the doctors room. This says to the patient "Don't worry, even you can block out the bad feelings and continue to pursue society's arbitrary measures of success".

That's not to say that there is no room whatsoever for chemical treatment of severe cases. BUT, what if we could tackle the root cause instead of nullifying the symptoms!?

The first step as always, is self awareness. Tracing the feelings of emptiness or worry back to when they first started to show is also key. The catalyst may be very obvious; shame, trauma, grief, loss...or it might be more subtle. It could be a combination of factors, lifestyle choices, lack of exercise or even purpose.

When both depression AND anxiety are present it can feel incredibly disorientating and lead to a compound state of both emotions reinforcing each other through association.

For example: you might feel so self-conscious that you feel self-conscious about how self-conscious you feel. At this point it's likely that you are experiencing the extremes of these 'conditions' and might feel the symptoms of depersonalisation.

It might sound terrifying to tackle these feelings head on, but ignoring or bypassing them can lead to them manifesting more dangerously in addiction, self-harming or suicide.

It can be very useful to think of depression as being an experience of "the past" and anxiety being a projected experience of the "future". If we can separate these two things in our mind, it gives them context.

Moreover it's much easier to see them for what they are. The human psyche has evolved to have a negative bias. This means that if we make a negative association once, we become hard-wired to notice that pattern for fear of life, injury or pain. To break the cycle, we actually have to positively enforce the experience about nine times to normalise it again.

How can you safely apply positive outcomes to something you're anxious about in the future? Can you hold yourself in the past experiences with love and compassion instead of judgement and sense of failure? Start by picking apart the reasons for your suffering by yourself or with a trusted friend or professional.

Exercises to help:

  • Counselling

  • Journalling

  • Mind mapping

  • Child work

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