Making the decision to start seeing a therapist – be it a counsellor or psychologist – can hold many people back from undertaking treatment for their depression or anxiety. If you’re someone who experiences depression and/or anxiety, you’ll know all too well how difficult it can be to reach out. Thankfully, there are some things you can do right now to help ease the burden of depression and anxiety, and make it easier to take the next step towards recovery. In this article, we outline depression and anxiety treatment you can begin at home today.
How our unique experiences shape our mental health
As each of us is unique, has had a unique upbringing, and has had experiences unique only to us; we all process events and emotions differently. It is not uncommon for two siblings who’ve grown up in the same household to have recollections that are completely different from those of their brothers and sisters. Likewise, those same siblings might experience vastly different mental health challenges in their lifetimes.
As a coping strategy, especially where traumatic experiences are concerned, our brains naturally develop either anxious (worried, irritable) or depressive (avoidant, withdrawn, helpless) reactions to situations that we face. Although this is our mind trying to protect us from potentially harmful things, these reactions can unfortunately disrupt our ability to assess and cope with circumstances in a helpful and healthy way. With the best of intentions, our minds can lead us to be hypervigilant and seek safety and comfort over potentially uncomfortable situations and emotions. These reactions can become impulsive, intense, and counterproductive. In turn, they can affect our relationships, our ability to connect with others, and our capacity to function healthily in daily life. When these reactions become all-encompassing and automatic, we call this either depression or anxiety. Some people may often experience both, as they are closely linked.
The first hurdle in depression and anxiety treatment is to learn to recognise when unhelpful thoughts and reactions are occurring, and to stop them in their tracks. For someone who has lived with depression or anxiety for a long time, this can seem almost impossible. The reactions have become so entrenched and so automated that our bodies may even show physical signs (raised blood pressure, fast heartbeat, sweating, shaking or shivering, headaches, lightheadedness, lethargy, extreme tiredness, and more), before our minds have even had the chance to tell us we’re feeling depressed or anxious.
Depression and Anxiety Treatment at Home: 9 Questions You Can Ask Yourself
Learning to recognise an intrusive and unhelpful thought or reaction is the key to recovery when it comes to depression and anxiety. Whilst depression treatment or anxiety treatment by a qualified and experienced Gold Coast counsellor or psychologist is absolutely the best thing you can do for yourself, there are some things you can begin at home right away. For many people, this can be very empowering and help them to realise that treatment is not only possible, but necessary. When we ask ourselves better questions, we have a chance of finding better solutions! Here are 9 questions you can ask yourself, to start depression and anxiety treatment at home right now:
- Do you tend towards more anxious or depressed thoughts and feelings? Remember, you may have a combination of both. But knowing which way your thoughts and reactions tend to lean is important and helpful for recovery.
- What are the specific thoughts you tend to have? For example, “I won’t do a good job and everyone will think I’m a fraud”, or “What is wrong with me, I’m crazy and everyone thinks so”, or “Things never work out for me”, or “Everyone is out to get me”.
- What feelings do you have based on these thoughts? Do you feel stressed, overwhelmed, sad, unmotivated, discouraged, or panicked, for example?
- What emotions tend to lead your thoughts and feelings? Some people lean towards anger or rage, whereas others might gravitate towards avoidance, worry, or fear.
- What is causing these thoughts or feelings? Knowing this will help you to uncover the core feelings that may be masked by your coping mechanisms. Ask yourself “What’s currently making me fearful/angry/worried?” or “What’s making me feel so overwhelmed or out of control?”
- Are your thoughts or feelings realistic? Is your worst-case scenario at all likely, and if it is, do you have the tools and support you need to manage the worst-case situation? Often, asking yourself this will reveal that no, in fact, that thing you’re worried about is not likely or that if it was to happen, you would be able to handle the situation.
- Ask yourself, “How do I typically react when faced with these thoughts or feelings?” Think about your prior responses and reactions and ask yourself how they’ve worked for you in the past. Also consider, do these reactions align with your sense of who you are? Do they align with your idea of living your best life?
- Do you have self-compassion? This can be hard for many of us to contemplate, as we’re not taught how to be compassionate with ourselves. But your relationship with yourself is the longest and most important one you’ll ever have. Self-compassion is not only helpful for recovery, but it’s also crucial to leading a happy and fulfilling life.
- How can I react differently in the future? When you’re in a good state of mind, this might be easy enough to answer. But when you’re in the midst of an anxious or depressive episode, it can be very difficult. Refer back to this list of questions to help yourself assess your emotions and reactions, and whether you could be doing something differently – something that better serves you.
Now that you’re equipped with the questions that can help you begin depression and anxiety treatment at home, it’s time to ask yourself – are you ready to begin your recovery and better manage the depression or anxiety you’ve been living with? These questions, and learning to observe your thoughts, feelings, and ingrained reactions, are the first step towards recovery. They are powerful tools in empowering you to stop intrusive thoughts and feelings in their tracks. Then, it’s time to move on to strategies you can use to break down these thoughts and reactions, and put in place healthier and more effective responses. That’s where your Gold Coast counsellor comes in. Book an appointment today for effective depression and anxiety treatment that will help you overcome your intrusive thoughts and build strategies for more healthy and helpful reactions.