Many people seek help for depression and/or anxiety. Why are depression and anxiety so prevalent in our culture? My view is our emotional equilibrium is sometimes overwhelmed by the rapid and often unrelenting pace of our lives. Those of us who have a genetic predisposition to anxiety and depression may be at great risk when pressures mount.
Along with our daily struggles and endless “to-do lists,” we must also cope with significant challenges such as illness, changes in status (“empty nest,” divorce, gender identity), crisis, trauma, and the death of loved ones. Our mood lowers, our thinking becomes negative and often distorted, we experience physical symptoms, and we feel stuck. Anxiety often accompanies both normal life-cycle changes as well as trauma.
Depression and anxiety sap our strength and resilience.
Depression and anxiety are like fraternal twins, they often go together but are experienced differently. This is usually called “co-morbidity.” Depression is considered a mood disorder and is most frequently associated with feelings of sadness. However, there are different types and symptoms of depression. People may feel irritable, empty, hopeless and helpless, guilty and persistent negativity. Anxiety is also expressed in a number of ways such as generalized anxiety, obsessive thinking and compulsive behaviors, phobias, and panic, among others.
The consequences of untreated depression and anxiety emanate from personal suffering and decreased coping strategies. While they are experienced individually, they also affect our relationships. The effects of anxiety and depression touch and involve those around us: our families, friends and colleagues. It is sometimes helpful to include family members in the therapy process.
My approach is systemic, integrative and responsive to each individual within the context of their lives. A variety of psychotherapeutic treatments of depression and/or anxiety successfully help people get back on their feet and feel more engaged in their lives and relationships. Cognitive-behavioral strategies, problem-solving, intergenerational and family systems issues, psychodynamic and existential/humanistic perspectives all can be helpful in healing and managing depression and anxiety.
I also encourage my clients to engage in a range of useful life-enhancing and restorative behaviors and activities that support and sustain psychological well-being. Mindfulness, medication, yoga, deep relaxation, exercise and diet are useful tools to employ in our daily lives. Also, depression and anxiety may lead us to question the very foundations of our beliefs and values. Addressing our spiritual, existential and philosophical concerns can be essential to our healing and growth.
The essential and most important ingredient of therapy is the client-therapist relationship.
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