Anxiety is not depression. The two are separate conditions, and although there are similarities, they cause different symptoms and require different types of treatment.
While anxiety and depression are separate conditions, it is not uncommon for someone to experience both disorders simultaneously. One of the most concerning symptoms a person struggling with anxiety and depression may exhibit is suicidal ideation. Suicidal thoughts show that your anxiety and depression require immediate treatment, and if you feel that you have these thoughts, contact someone immediately!
Anxiety and depression are incredibly treatable conditions and the success rates to treatments are outstandingly high.
The problem is that these conditions don't always seem treatable when you're struggling with them, and that's due to a variety of different reasons:
- No One Size Fits All Approach Easily one of the most common reasons is because many approaches don't work the first time. In fact, your symptoms may worsen before they get significantly better because getting at the root cause for these conditions is very hard to cope with. Even some of the most well-known treatments can have setbacks or require different interventions to be tried before finding what works best for you. Something as simple as which therapist you choose can make a big difference in terms of outcome. It's hard to feel as though your condition is treatable when the treatments you try aren't working, or aren’t working as quickly as you had hoped for. While that can be discouraging, those who do invest the time in treatment will find that there is hope and that they can get better.
- Low Neurotransmitter Availability Some research suggests that depression could be linked to lower neurotransmitter levels (commonly thought to be “a chemical imbalance in the brain”). Your emotions are affected by your neurotransmitter levels, such as serotonin and dopamine. These neurotransmitters are responsible for our “feel good” feelings and when those levels are low it could lead to negative thoughts and suicidal ideation.
- All Treatments Take Time Every treatment takes time, and every treatment is going to have setbacks. When you struggle with anxiety and depression every day, those setbacks may make you feel as though you can't keep going, or that treatment isn't going to work. Suicidal ideation is a clear sign that your anxiety and depression have reached very severe levels, and unfortunately that does mean that treatment could take a while.
Despite these issues, treatment is possible. You simply need to keep reminding yourself that most of what you feel is due to the anxiety and depression, and that treating those conditions with a professional can provide relief.
Anxiety and Depression Lumped Together
You may have noticed that we've been lumping anxiety and depression together, even though we're generally talking about a suicidal mindset as an anxiety symptom. That's because:
- Suffering from anxiety can leave you feeling helpless, worthless, or diminish your interest in activities you typically enjoy. These are symptoms of depression that may be brought on by your anxiety.
- If you're having suicidal thoughts, it means you're suffering from depression, even if you're mostly suffering from anxiety symptoms.
That's why, even if anxiety is your primary struggle, suicidal thoughts need to be considered a part of depression and treated as such. Only a trained mental health professional can properly diagnose your conditions, and if you have these suicidal thoughts you should see a counselor or psychologist immediately. There are also suicide helplines that you can call to speak with someone immediately.
How to Stop a Suicidal Mindset
See a psychologist or counselor immediately, or call a suicide helpline if you need help. In the US, the number is 1-800-273-8255. Feelings of ending one's life shouldn't be taken lightly, and because these thoughts feel natural as a symptom of anxiety and depression, it's something that you shouldn't leave to chance. Taking action now is the best thing you can do for the way you feel.
In the meantime, some strategies that experts believe will help include:
- Extended Social Time Spend a great deal of time with people. It can be hard, especially because anxiety and depression can both take away from your happiness and the joy you get from life's activities, but social time is still very important. If you don't know anyone, join groups and try to stay as active with healthy activities as possible.
- Start Exercising This is crucial. Exercise may raise levels of neurotransmitters that improve mood, and studies have shown that exercise reduces feelings of anxiety and depression, thus reducing suicide risk. If you do nothing else, you should start exercising regularly.
- Volunteer Studies have also shown that volunteering may curb feelings of suicide because you are helping others instead of focusing on yourself. Volunteering allows you to see that there are others also struggling, and who are reaching out for help. Helping others can make you feel better about yourself and your abilities, boosting your self-esteem.
The suicidal mindset is something that needs immediate psychological intervention. Even if you feel you can cope with it on your own, it is always best to consult with someone. Seek help from trained experts and leave nothing to chance.