It is estimated that 45 per cent of Australians will experience a mental health condition at some point in their life. Anxiety accounts for the highest mental health illness affecting over 2 million Australians yearly, and depression is estimated at 1 million. Anxiety is the most common mental health condition in Australia affecting one in three women and one in five men in their lifetime.
Everyone feels stressed, worried and anxious at times. Anxious feeling are a response to pressure and stressful situations, this feeling should pass when the stressor is removed.
When the anxious feelings don’t go away and daily life is to hard to cope with, this may be a sign that a mental health illness such as anxiety or depression is affecting you.
Common symptoms of anxiety
- Avoiding objects or situations which cause anxiety, example to withdraw from social events.
- Perform rituals to relieve anxiety.
- Avoiding eye contact and not being assertive.
- Being over cautious or frightened to be alone.
- Being overwhelmed and find it difficult to make decisions.
- Excessive worry and even fear when facing certain situations, events or objects.
- Excessive worry about medical problems and physical symptoms.
- Constantly tense, nervous on edge that something bad going to happen.
- Overwhelming panic and uncontrollable thoughts.
Physical symptoms can be increased heart rate, shortness of breath, vomiting, nausea, lightheaded, muscle tension, trouble sleeping, sweating, shaking, hot or cold flushes. (Beyond Blue, 2020).
The six most common types of anxiety.
- Generalised anxiety disorder (GAD) – anxious most days about variety of things for over six months.
- Social phobia – intense fear of being embarrassed or criticised in everyday situations such as eating in public, speaking at work or for some even chatting to coworkers.
- Specific phobias- fear of a particular situation such as flying or an object example spiders.
- Obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) – ongoing intrusive thoughts and fears which cause anxiety carrying out rituals like excessive hand washing fearing germs.
- Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) occurs anytime from one month after a traumatic event, such as an accident, assault, war or a disaster.
- Panic disorder – panic attacks have intense physical symptoms so bad people can feel they are having a heart attack (Beyond Blue, 2020).
Depression is affecting over 1 million Australians yearly. One in six women and one in eight men are experiencing depression (Australian Bureau of Statistics, 2008, p. 27).
We all feel emotions, being sad, moody and low from time to time is normal. For people suffering depression these feelings are intense and the feelings can be for no apparent reason and last for long periods of time even years. Depression is a serious illness which isn’t just feeling down or moody it affects you physically. Depression can make day to day life unmanageable due to how you feel about yourself. Health professionals and services are available to help you (Beyond Blue, 2020).
Common symptoms of depression
If for more than two weeks you feel sad, down or miserable most of the time and experiencing at least three signs and three symptoms in your daily life you should speak to your Doctor. Signs of depression can be but are limited to behaviour changes, having no motivation to do normal activities, not going out anymore, not getting work done, withdrawing from close friends and family, relying on alcohol and sedatives, unable to concentrate. If you feel overwhelmed, lacking in confidence, indecisive, irritable, frustrated, sad, miserable and pessimistic. Negative thoughts such as being a failure, it’s all your fault, nothing good ever happens to me, I’m worthless, life’s not worth living or people would be better off without me in their life. There is different types and levels of depression it’s best to consult a Doctor for diagnosis and treatment if you think depression is effecting you.
Types fo depression
You may be depressed if, for more than two weeks, you’ve felt sad, down or miserable most of the time, or have lost interest or pleasure in usual activities, and have also experienced several of the signs and symptoms across at least three of the categories below.
- Depression can be described as mild, moderate or severe; melancholic or psychotic (Beyond Blue, 2020).
- Melancholia – Server form of depression with many physically symptoms such as moving slowly.
- Psychotic depression – lose touch with reality and experience psychosis involving hallucinations or hearing voices. Paranoid feelings that they cause bad events to happen.
- Antenatal and postnatal depression
Women are at an increased risk of depression during pregnancy (known as the antenatal or prenatal period) and in the year following childbirth (known as the postnatal period). You may also come across the term ‘perinatal’, which describes the period covered by pregnancy and the first year after the baby’s birth.
Theoretical models of therapy/counselling for anxiety and depression
It’s important to get support from family friends and health professionals. There are effective treatments which health professionals can prescribe to help with recovery. Physical exercise if very effective for mild anxiety and depression. Psychological treatment may be required for server cases. Counselling is effective to find out triggers, teach coping strategies and start your journey to recovery (Nelson-Jones, R, 2002, p. 358). Essential Counselling and Therapy Skills: Visit your Doctor for a diagnosis, the Doctor can also check for any physical health problem or medication which could be contributing to the anxiety and/or depression, and discuss treatment options. You are not alone, ask for help!
Beyond Blue is an organisation which has reliable information and is a good starting point for anyone thinking they may be suffering from anxiety or depression. Beyond Blue has easy to understand information to reduce the stigma for the individual, community and family members. The Black Dog Institute has been a leader in reducing the stigma around mental health. The Black Dog Institute is widely recognised for focusing on enabling mentally healthier lives through innovations in medicine, education, science and removing the stigma related to depression.
Alternative approaches for anxiety and depression
Mood Assessment Systems Australia (MAP) is a computerised assessment and diagnostic tool for depression which offers support services (Mood Assessment Systems Australia 2019). An alternative towards anxiety and depression is metacognitive therapy, which concentrates on the process to maintain cognitions rather than cognitive behavioural therapy, which concentrates only on cognitions (Wells, A, 2010, p. 1). Exercise is often beneficial for people with low to moderate depression and anxiety. Regular exercise improves symptoms due to the release of feel-good endorphins (Mead, G, Morley, W, Campbell, P, Greig, C, McMurdo, M, & Lawlor, D, 2010).
- Australian Bureau of Statistics. (2008). National Survey of Mental Health and Wellbeing: Summary of Results 2007. (p. 27), Cat. no. (4326.0). Canberra: ABS. Retrieved from https://www.abs.gov.au/AUSSTATS/abs@.nsf/Lookup/4326.0Main+Features32007?OpenDocument.
- Beyond Blue LTD. (2020). Anxiety: The Facts. Retrieved from https://www.beyondblue.org.au/the-facts/anxiety
- Black Dog Institute. (2018). Alternative programs, Education and Training, Retrieved https://www.blackdoginstitute.org.au/about-us/who-we-are/overview
- Carek, P. Laibstain, S. Carek, S. (2011). Exercise for the Treatment of Depression and Anxiety. Published in International journal of Psychiatry Medicine. 2011. Retrieved from
- Horsfall, J. Cleary, M & Hunt, G.E. 2010. Stigma in Mental Health: Clients and Professionals, Issues in Mental Health Nursing, (vol. 31). (issue. 7). (pp. 450 – 455). Reviewed from DOI: 10.3109/01612840903537167. https://www.tandfonline.com/action/showCitFormats?doi=10.3109%2F01612840903537167.
- Mead, G. E., Morley, W., Campbell, P., Greig, C. A., McMurdo, M., & Lawlor, D. A. (2010). Exercise for depression. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, 2010(1), -. [CD004366]. https://doi.org/10.1002/14651858.CD004366.pub4
- Mood Assessment Systems Australia. (2019). Online mood assessment program. Retrieved from http://moodassessment.com.au/
- Nelson-Jones, R. (2002). Essential Counselling and Therapy Skills: The Skilled Client Model. SAGE publications. London. Retrieved from https://books.google.com.au/books?hl=en&lr=&id=sW99nJxJgSIC&oi=fnd&pg=PP2&dq=Theoretical+models+of+therapy/counselling+for+anxiety+and+depression+peer+review&ots=JAYXOqJg_J&sig=q32Wfb0nbdtMeQZH9S7a50blbc0
- Wells, A. (2010). Emotional disorders and metacognition: Innovative cognitive therapy. Cognitive Behavioural Therapy Book Reviews 2010, (vol. 6), (1st ed), (p. 1). Chichester: Wiley. Retrieved from https://www.the-iacp.com/assets/CBTBR/cbtbr-vol_61c.pdf.