Feeling anxious and depressed at times is normal. The loss of a loved one, getting terminated from a job, breakups and divorces, or other trying circumstances can invoke feelings of sadness, fear, loneliness, or anxiety. While these feelings can be normal reactions to life stressors, when they occur on a daily basis for a long period of time they can interfere with normal, everyday functioning.
If you are suffering with anxiety:
Intense fear, terror, panic or dread my leave you feeling physically and emotionally drained to the point where even normal activities may be avoided or curtailed. You may experience a number of distressing or debilitating symptoms including, but not limited to, tightness in the chest, racing heart, difficulty breathing, trembling hands or limbs, racing thoughts or being in a mental fog, or feeling detached from your body. You may have obsessive thoughts and excessive worry, and self-medicate or engage in other behaviors to calm your nerves.
Exposure and Response Prevention Therapy
Exposure and Response Prevention (ERP) is one of the most researched and effective treatments for anxiety disorders. It is based on the premise that if you are afraid of something, you must face that fear in order to learn that you can handle it. Avoiding what you fear maintains or increases your anxiety and often generalizes to other situations which lead to new fears, anxieties and avoidance.
Exposure and Response Prevention is based on Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT). The concept behind CBT is that there are three contributing factors: the way you think, the way you feel, and the way you behave. While many therapies will focus “only on the way you think and feel,” with Exposure and Response Prevention the behavior becomes the main focus when it comes to an anxiety disorder because behavioral change is the true and most meaningful measure of whether or not a person is still anxious. It is through learning how to face your fears and practicing in real-life situations that your anxiety decreases and can eventually extinguish altogether.
If you’re suffering with sadness or depression
You may find it difficult to find joy, meaning and purpose in your life. You may feel alone or alienated from friends or family, or lacking in social connections. You may want to sleep for long periods of time, or have great difficulty with sleep. You may overeat or have loss of appetite. You may have difficulty concentrating or remembering things. You may go out of your way to avoid the outside world as much as possible, and engage in self-medication or other behaviors to deal with the pain of living.