Do you often feel fatigued, tense, irritable, and nervous? These are all common symptoms of stress and anxiety. Although you may feel alone, the diagnosis of anxiety disorders and depression is on the rise in the United States.
Mental Health Studies
According to a 2014 study by the American Psychological Association, 35% of participants reported a chronic feeling of “nervousness and anxiety.”
By 2015, this number increased to 42%. Furthermore, “constant worrying” increased from 28% to 33%, with “feeling depressed or sad” increasing from 32% to 37%.
Additional statistics to note:
- Compared to Baby Boomers and Gen-Xers, younger generations are reporting higher levels of stress.
- The American Institute of Stress reported that 77% of people regularly experience physical symptoms of stress. Also, 48% feel that their stress level has increased over the past five years.
- According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, 6 million people suffer from panic disorder, while 15 million suffer from social anxiety disorder.
- The Anxiety and Depression Association of America states that anxiety disorders are the most common mental illness in the United States, affecting 40 million adults, or 18% of the population.
What Does this Data Mean?
First things first, if you’re concerned that you suffer from stress, anxiety, and/or depression, remember this: you are not alone. Also, since more attention is being drawn to mental health concerns, there is a greater probability of finding a treatment strategy that generates positive results.
While help is available, there’s another statistic that is a bit worrisome: only one-third (approximately) of people suffering from an anxiety disorder are receiving treatment. Fortunately, you don’t have to be part of this group. Instead, you can get on the right path by understanding some of the top symptoms of stress and anxiety:
- Migraine headache
- Squeezing pain in the stomach
- Pain in the neck and shoulders
- Overeating or no appetite
- Constant worry
- Restless (or no) sleep
- The feeling that you want to cry
The primary reason to treat stress is to remove it from your life once and for all. Along with this, you don’t want the problem to worsen over time. Continual stress and anxiety can develop into a disorder, thus leading to long term depression.
Some of the symptoms associated with depression include:
- Lack of energy
- Difficulty concentrating
- Loss of interest in extracurricular activities
- Persistent feeling of sadness
- Suicidal thoughts
Stress Relievers Exist
It’s a common belief that medication is the only way to treat stress, anxiety, and depression, however, nothing could be further from the truth. The following treatment options have been proven effective for many people:
- This doesn’t mean you have to become a marathon runner overnight. A daily walk, a bike ride, or a visit to your local gym will do wonders to relieve tension. When you exercise aerobically, your endorphins will kick in and fill you with a “feel good” hormone rush. Yoga can also be a lifesaver.
- You don’t need to visit India to learn how to meditate. Sitting in a quiet space with your eyes closed, taking deep breaths, is often enough to transform your life. The object is to calm and quiet your mind. Meditation can also lower your blood pressure.
- Talk about it. Contact a family member or friend to discuss your mental state. Make an appointment with a counselor or therapist. Sharing what’s on your mind can help remove some (or all) stress from your life.
There is more to living a healthy life than eating right and exercising. You should focus on your mental health as well.
If you need help, don’t hesitate to practice a variety of stress-relief techniques while also seeking professional assistance. Also, if you or a loved one is contemplating suicide, please call the suicide hotline at 1-800-273-8255.
Dr. Dave Campbell Commentary:
That may be a lot to take in. But I remind patients suffering from crippling back pain, chronic spinal disease, paralysis and other ailments seen in a spinal surgery practice, mine, that taking small steps to curb stress and anxiety is more effective, and longer lasting, that ‘swinging for the fence’. And everyone is different. The joke in clinic today was a young man, a cowboy that lives on a ranch out west of town hurt his low back roping cattle. He needed stress-relieving, muscle-strengthening core exercises. He was a classic, wearing boots, a big belt-buckle and jeans. I told him, in my most doctorly voice, “Partner, you need to start a yoga class, it has been scientifically shown to be effective for back pain”. The belly laugh he gave brought the entire clinic to a halt. Everyone started laughing with him, and at me. It was great fun. And yes, most cowboys don’t want to be told to go to a yoga class. But once he realized the male to female ratio, and gave it a little more thought, the idea of a yoga class didn’t seem quite so bad.
Find your own stress-relieving and anxiety-busting behaviors and activities. If you choose it you will own it.
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