Depression and anxiety are common mental health issues that affect many people across the globe. These disorders can cause many adverse effects on an individual’s life, including problems with interpersonal relationships and performance at work or school.
If you’re having trouble identifying the cause of your depression and anxiety (and it’s not due to a medical condition), consider scheduling an appointment with a therapist. A professional counselor can help you recognize harmful thought patterns and develop a treatment plan.
In addition to professional help, there are several things you can do on your own to cope with symptoms of anxiety and depression that can help reduce the potential for long-term side effects on your health.
Below Are 7 Risks of Long-Term Depression & Anxiety:
Depression and anxiety can affect more than just your mood. It’s estimated that nearly 45 million Americans suffer from some form of mental illness. In addition to the emotional toll, those who suffer may also experience physical effects.
Although depression and anxiety are two separate disorders, they often occur together. According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, more than 50 percent of those diagnosed with depression also have an anxiety disorder. Below are some potential side effects of both conditions when left untreated.
1. Physical pain
People with chronic depression and anxiety are more likely to experience physical pain, including back pain, headaches, and stomach pains. The reason for this is not fully understood. Still, some research suggests that it’s because the brains of people with chronic conditions like depression and anxiety may process sensory input differently.
2. Heart disease
Researchers have found a connection between depression and cardiovascular disease — such as heart attacks — because they share many of the same risk factors. Depression may lead to unhealthy habits that can increase blood pressure or cholesterol levels, which can raise the risk of heart disease.
3. Weakened immune system
Depression can affect the immune system in several ways. It can cause certain hormones to become imbalanced, which in turn can weaken immunity, or it may be that inflammation plays a role in both depression and weakened immunity. This kind of inflammation has been associated with poor health outcomes in general.
4. Sleep problems
Depressed people tend to sleep more than usual or have insomnia. Even when their sleep is normal, it’s often less satisfying and refreshing. Depression also alters the body’s circadian rhythms (natural sleep patterns) and increases the risk of developing sleep disorders, such as sleep apnea.
5. Weight gain or loss
Long-term depression and anxiety can lead to weight gain or weight loss because of a change in appetite and an increase or decrease in your activity level. If you’re depressed, you may find yourself withdrawing from the people and things that would typically make you happy, including activities you usually enjoy, such as exercise. Even if you want to eat better, it can be challenging to find the motivation to do so when dealing with depression.
6. Memory and concentration impairment
Depression and anxiety can make it difficult to focus on tasks, even things you enjoy. You may struggle to keep up with housework, maintain a social life, or finish work. It’s often hard to concentrate when you’re depressed, and constant worrying can make it hard to slow down racing thoughts.
7. Addictive behaviors
One of the most common effects of long-term depression and anxiety is the development of addictive behaviors, such as drinking or substance abuse. When you suffer from these conditions, you may turn to drugs or alcohol to escape from negative feelings and thoughts. While drug use can initially make you feel better, over time, it will only exacerbate your symptoms and cause other problems. You may also develop an addiction to prescription medications that are used to treat anxiety or depression. The only way to combat addictive behaviors is through professional treatment at a rehab center.
How to Get Rid of Long-Term Depression & Anxiety
There are several techniques for coping with depression and anxiety. The most important thing is that you recognize the signs of your anxiety and depression as soon as possible so you can begin the journey to healing. As you explore various treatment options, consider implementing some of the suggestions below to start seeing improvements in your mood.
1. Find things that make you feel good
When you’re feeling down, dwelling on what’s going wrong and how little control you have is easy. But the truth is, you can still find something that makes you happy and feel better about yourself. It could be getting ice cream with your friends or watching a movie that makes you laugh. If you need help, ask friends or family what they think will make you happy.
2. Talk to a friend or family member
Don’t be afraid to ask for help from the people you trust. You don’t have to go through this alone! Opening up about your problems can make them easier and less scary. It also helps to know that someone is out there who cares about your well-being and will support you when times are tough.
3. Try to sleep properly
Sleep properly because lack of sleep makes it difficult to cope with stress, which leads to anxiety and depression. For adults, 7-8 hours of sleep is recommended, 8-9 hours is suggested for teenagers, and 10-11 hours is recommended for children from 9-18. Older adults (65+) also need 7-8 hours of sleep daily. It’s also essential to have a regular sleeping pattern so that your body will be used to it and will not disrupt your daily activities such as work or school.
4. Exercise every day
The benefits of regular physical activity are far-reaching and include helping to regulate moods, relieve stress, and improve sleep quality. Research shows that exercise is an effective treatment for reducing symptoms of depression and anxiety in people with major depressive disorder.
5. Be gentle
Be gentle with yourself during times when you are feeling down or anxious. Please don’t put yourself down because it will only worsen things later! Remember that these feelings are temporary and will pass once things get better!
6. Eat a healthy diet
Avoid caffeine, alcohol, and sugar. Instead, eat foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids like salmon, flax seeds, and walnuts. These foods can help fight against depression and anxiety. A deficit in essential fatty acids (EFAs) may worsen symptoms of anxiety and depression, according to research published in the “Journal of Clinical Psychiatry.”
While the tips above are all good in and of themselves, they will likely be multiplied by the impact of a good support network and a willingness to seek professional help. A mental illness is not a blow that leaves you broken and hopeless; it is something you can overcome, even if it takes time. With persistence, hard work, and implementing a few tips from above, you should feel better than ever.