Thanksgiving beckons family dinners, football, falling leaves, and Thanksgiving parades. Many watch TV to see the U.S. President “pardon” a turkey, later sent to a zoo, for the National Turkey Federation. Thanksgiving became a holiday in 1863, proclaimed a national holiday on November 26, 1789, and legislatively enacted fourth Thursday of November in 1941. This year the date is November 24th. The idea is to be thankful and appreciate who and what you have in your life.
In previous blog posts this month, we have discussed depression and anxiety separately since they can be experienced independently and have their own distinct definitions and even diagnostic criteria when one’s functioning is impacted or impaired. However, there is some overlap between anxiety and depression and the two states have a sometimes-complicated relationship. For example, one of the major characteristics of depression is a persistent feeling of sadness or anxiety, which is shared in the list of depression. Also, the physical, somatic symptoms can often overlap.
Fear and anxiety are common, every day parts of living. Unknown outcomes of common events, such as interviews, tests, uncomfortable conversations, or just commuting to work have probably evoked those emotions in you sometime this month (if not this week!). However, anxiety can affect the day-to-day functioning and rise to the level of a diagnosable mental disorder for some. Since anxiety is a typical, if not necessary, part of modern life, it can be hard to differentiate typical anxiety that motivates us to perform, stay alert, or make plans to influence an outcome, and the level of anxiety that can reduce ones productivity, diminish the quality of life, affect other ways of coping or behaving, or sometimes be debilitating to an individual.
It had been almost a year since I last saw her. Previously, we had unwound, unraveled and released decades of trauma originating in childhood and continuing into adulthood of over five decades. It was very challenging and emotional work that lasted over a year. Finally, the scary voices in her head became quiet, the nightmares disappeared, the hypervigilence vanished, the anxiety dissipated, and her confidence was at an all-time high. My client had reached that point in the therapeutic process that I could finally say, “I think you’re done.” She knew it, smiled and agreed. With a hug, I let her know she could always return for a tune-up if needed.
We often hear our friends or family say they feel “depressed”, conveying they feel sad about a situation or event. While sadness is definitely a part of clinical depression, it’s a small part of a genuine and serious illness that is more than sad emotions or a phase, but may actually affect functioning. Some signs of depressive illness, which may vary in degree and combination for each individual, are:
- feeling a lack of energy or motivation to engage in typical activities
- loss of interest, enjoyment or pleasure in the usual things
- changes in behavior, such as moving or talking slower than usual or even becoming fidgety, irritable, or restless
- feeling sad, anxious, or empty
- noticeable changes in appetite – either poor appetite or overeating
- noticeable changes in sleep – either staying asleep or having trouble falling or staying asleep
- feeling guilt, worthlessness or hopelessness
- trouble concentrating, including the simple ones
- thoughts or mentions of suicide