Stress Anxiety DepressionThe Triad of Feel-Bads
What is Stress, Anxiety and Depression? How Do We Cope With These Symptoms?
Written by The SVT Team
Stress, anxiety and depression are all interrelated. Many times, there’s a progression from one to the next, starting with stress. In this blog post, we’ll cover what stress, anxiety and depression feel like, and strategies for coping with each.
On a biological and physiological level, stress is characterized by the release of cortisol that can result in symptoms like an elevated heart rate, sweaty palms, agitation, and trouble focusing.
Before we go on, some stress can be a good thing! Short-term spikes in stress can push you to meet an urgent deadline or leave a dangerous situation. In fact, stress is an evolutionary response from the days when it was needed to protect us from immediate dangers like predators during a hunt.
Chronic stress is where stress starts to get harmful. The stress response is intended to dissipate after getting us away from danger. When that perceived danger is omnipresent, the body doesn’t get a break from the release of cortisol. This can create more detrimental symptoms like insomnia, cardiovascular disease, or gastrointestinal problems. Chronic stress can also lead to the development of depression or an anxiety disorder if it isn’t addressed.
How to Cope with Stress
If you’re in a constant state of stress, there’s hope! Coping with stress comes down to simple daily habits that you can start incorporating today. Here are a few ideas to get started:
- Separate the “stress” from the “stressors” by removing yourself from stressful situations and addressing your underlying needs.
- Take a few deep belly breaths every hour.
- Work with an experienced mental health provider to mitigate the effects of chronic stress.
Similar to stress, anxiety can feel like trouble focusing, constant worry, increased heart rate, sweating, and rapid breathing. Where anxiety differs is that it’s normally chronic, with persistent fear that interferes with daily activities. Anxiety can also be brought on by specific triggers.
How to Cope with Anxiety
Coping with anxiety utilizes some similar tools to coping with stress, like deep breathing exercises. Here are some additional tools for managing anxiety:
- Try meditating to calm your mind.
- Set boundaries around your time and resources.
- Become aware of what triggers your anxiety and write it down. You can refer to this list when working with a therapist, and create a plan to manage your anxiety.
Depression can feel like sadness, loss of motivation, low energy, and overwhelm. While some of the symptoms of depression overlap with anxiety or stress, depression is characterized by a persistent “low mood” as opposed to the frantic energy associated with stress and anxiety.
How to Cope with Depression
Here are a few non-traditional tools to cope with depression. While these may improve symptoms over time, it can also be helpful to use them in combination with regular therapy!
- Add in a few more vegetables to your weekly grocery list. Emerging research and meta analyses have shown correlations between the Standard American Diet (highly processed foods) and depression. Try adding one more fruit or vegetable to your diet every day to decrease the risk of depression.
- Test the 5 Second Rule by counting back from 5, then taking action (even if it’s just getting out of bed!) – 5 Second Rule Video
- When depression impacts your ability to take care of yourself or your family for longer than a couple of weeks, it’s time to seek professional help. To learn more and schedule a free consultation with one of our licensed therapists, click here.
Resources for Stress, Anxiety, Depression
Stress, anxiety and depression are interrelated through the overlap of certain symptoms. Prolonged, chronic stress can also lead to a diagnosis of anxiety or depression. While we talked about the symptoms and some coping strategies for each of the mental health conditions above, here are some general recommendations that may be helpful for stress, anxiety and depression.
Meditation & Breathing Exercises
Psychotherapy & Coaching
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Silicon Valley Therapy does not offer crisis counseling or emergency services. Please use the following resources in the event of a crisis:
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 800.273.TALK (8255)
National Domestic Violence Hotline 800.799.7233
Crisis Text Line: Text “Courage” to 741-741
Santa Clara County Psychiatric Services 650-573-2662
Santa Cruz County Psychiatric Services 800.952.2335
Veterans Crisis Line 800.273.8255
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