Depression and anxiety are mental illnesses that are closely related. In fact, it is not easy to recognize the difference between the two. About 50% of people diagnosed with depression are also diagnosed with anxiety. However, depression and anxiety can be distinguished by understanding their primary symptoms.
Symptoms of depression
The common symptoms of depression are insomnia, lack of appetite, recurring feelings of sadness and worthlessness, increased fatigue and suicidal thoughts. People experiencing five or more of these symptoms for more than two weeks are likely to be diagnosed with depression.
Symptoms of anxiety
Restlessness, low concentration, being easily irritable, muscle tension and excessive worrying. You may be considered abnormally anxious if you experience these symptoms for more than six months. But…
Depression is different from feelings of sadness or grief. Unlike with depression, grief comes with pain and longing for the good memories. Also, one never feels self-hate and feelings of worthlessness with grief.
With depression, however, the feeling of sadness is prolonged and coupled with painful memories and self-loathing. Everything seems gloomy and dull for you. Over time, the things that used to excite you no longer make you happy.
Does meditation work to treat depression and anxiety?
It may seem ironic to treat depression and anxiety with meditation. However, studies have shown that meditation helps in treating depression and anxiety.
Meditation helps you pay attention to your inner experiences. Thoughts only become harmful when they are focused on the negatives. Meditation helps you concentrate on the good things.
According to New York City-based clinical psychologist Chloe Carmichael, meditation is an effective treatment therapy for depression and anxiety in that one learns to separate their conscious self from their thoughts. One begins to see depression as an external problem that does not define you. In turn, you gain the freedom that empowers you to decide on how to respond to the negative thoughts, emotions and sensations.
Another factor that makes meditation work is that one learns to accept situations rather than shun them. When you meditate, you are more likely to ignore the negative thoughts. The goal of meditation is not to ignore your worries and troubles but rather to help you appreciate your worries and understand that you do not have to act on them.
Also, meditation helps protect the hippocampus. This is the brain area responsible for controlling the brain’s memories and emotions.
Lastly, meditation helps you prepare for a situation. For instance, meditating before an appointment with the divorce lawyer helps shift the anxiety, thus eliminating the stress hormones that are largely responsible for depression.
To feel the results of meditation, have a regular meditation schedule. At first, you will most likely find it difficult because you’re coming face to face with your fears, bad memories and pains.
Do not quit and understand that meditation is meant to do exactly that: help you connect with your worries and therefore control them.