Symptoms of Anxiety and Depression – How Mindfulness can Help

  • Inoble

  • Jan 19, 2022

Depression is among the most common psychiatric disorders and is a prevailing mental health condition around the world. According to the World Health Organisation, there are 264 million people worldwide living with some form of depression. In America, 17.3 million people have had at least one depressive episode during their lifetime. 

Anxiety disorder is affecting 40 million adults in the US every year, whereas only 36.9% of individuals opt for the treatment. This is due to the nature of the medications. 

Depression and anxiety can be treated through various techniques and medications. Medications do not come without side effects. On the other hand, meditative techniques have been proven to reduce depression and anxiety significantly. Mindfulness meditation has provided individuals with numerous benefits such as increased well-being, better emotional and mental health. 

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What are Depression and Anxiety?

Individuals can face depression and anxiety at the same time. As a matter of fact, 45% of individuals with one mental condition may develop one or more disorders. Moreover, a study concluded that individuals having depression may have anxiety and vice versa. 

Although every disease has its own causes, side effects, and treatment, depression and anxiety have similar symptoms. 

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Depression and Mindfulness

Depression and mindfulness go hand in hand nowadays. Mindfulness meditation has been proved by multiple studies to alleviate depression. It allows individuals to work with the everyday stressors of life and improve their overall well-being. Mindfulness also lets individuals bring about kind awareness and acknowledgment to their inner state. Whether the individuals are stressed or feeling anxious, mindfulness creates a sense of peace and allows them to be.  A study conducted in 1992 published in the American Journal of Psychiatry found that mindfulness has significantly and effectively reduced the symptoms of anxiety and panic attacks. 

Multiple other research concluded that when individuals create a space between themselves and what they are experiencing, their anxiety begins to subside. But if they get used to being under constant stress, the body starts to react and may pose multiple side effects. Be it mental health, physical health, or emotional health, anxiety is not good for any! Consequently, when individuals get too caught up in the patterns of anxiety, it creates more problems for them. This is why it is as critical as possible to address anxiety in its start or when a person realizes it. 

Mental & Emotional Challenges in Depression

  • Constantly feeling sad 
  • Feeling numb 
  • Getting upset about everything 
  • Not being able to fall asleep/Oversleeping
  • Feeling irritable 
  • Difficulty concentrating 
  • Loss of interest 
  • Feeling hopeless 
  • Not wanting to do anything 
  • Feeling empty 
  • Restlessness
  • Feeling worthlessness
  • Thoughts of death or suicide 
  • Suicide attempts 

Physical Challenges in Depression

  • Decreased Energy 
  • Pains 
  • Aches 
  • Cramps 
  • Gastrointestinal Problems 
  • Changes in Appetite
  • Weight Gain or Weight loss
  • Chronic Fatigue 

Scientific Facts on Mindfulness and Depression 

Depression has the capability to over-activate the brain part which controls how our brain processes new information. Depression sends signs to the brain which causes it to overdrive. This overdrive triggers the body into a fight or flight response. These further cause the body to fight its own brain function resulting in chaotic nature, aggressive behavior, and a wild personality. Mindfulness meditation on the other hand helps individuals bring forth better changes in the brain. 

Mindfulness meditation has been proved to increase the foldings of the part of the brain responsible for making decisions. The amygdala increases its foldings which further improves cognitive abilities and functions. Mindfulness has also controlled how our hormones are regulated. In other words, meditation is the best natural stress control pill

Depression and Anxiety 

Individuals can face anxiety at any time of the day and in any circumstance. It’s not new that prior to an event or an important decision, an anxiety attack may begin. But chronic anxiety can take a toll on one’s mental, physical, and emotional health. It can be debilitating to have anxiety attacks that hinder individuals in their day-to-day tasks. 

Physical Challenges in Anxiety 

  • Muscle stiffness
  • Fast heartbeat 
  • Restless sleep 
  • Anxiety attack
  • Teeth grinding 
  • Constant fatigue 
  • Unable to fall asleep 
  • Unable to stay asleep 
  • Difficulty concentrating 
  • Difficulty recalling information 
  • Attack triggered when remembering past experiences 

Emotional & mental challenges in Anxiety

  • Dreading something 
  • Constantly worrying 
  • Feeling broken 
  • Restlessness
  • Panic 

Depression and anxiety are symptoms that people experience before joining a rehabilitation facility. Individuals with depressive symptoms are more likely to turn to alcohol, drugs, and addiction. Mindfulness meditation, on the other hand, has been shown in several studies to lessen depression and is utilized as a contemplative method in rehabilitation centers.

Meditation Techniques that Help Alleviate Depression and Anxiety

  • Loving Kindness: It focuses on developing self-love for oneself. It combats negative sentiments and hopelessness. It lets individuals develop self-worth. 
  • Breath Awareness: This process makes sure individuals do not wander around. It is mainly to bring all the focus on the breath and release all the negative emotions. It also helps to lower anxiety and cortisol levels which are responsible for stress. 
  • Visualization: It allows individuals to focus on present moments rather than negative images of the past. It helps introduce serenity and an overall sense of calmness. 
  • Body scan meditation: This is a type of meditation that allows individuals to focus on different areas of their body. Then, the person realizes which parts of their body are tensed which aids in releasing the tension. Along with the scan, the person inhales and exhales to release negative emotions. 

Conclusion

While meditation experts advise people to exercise self-compassion when managing depression, they also suggest they be self-compassionate when mindfully meditating. People often feel like they are failing when they first start practicing mindfulness because their minds wander and are easily distracted. Mind-wandering on the other hand is a natural element of mindfulness meditation that occurs even in the most accomplished practitioners. Therefore, it is not a sign of failure. Mindfulness is a skill that may be developed gradually and at its natural speed. 

While mindfulness does not replace other types of therapy for depression. Instead, it can be used in conjunction with or after other therapies offering lifelong solutions for managing depression. 

Read more: How Developing Self Awareness Builds Emotional Intelligence (EI)