How to support yourself or others with anxiety and depression

How are you all at the moment?

Be honest, look deep inside yourself and be honest about how you feel?

The current times is the perfect storm for many to feel either depressed or anxious or both. If you have struggled with mental health issues in the past or never have it will not surprise us that you may be suffering.

You may be suffering internally on a daily basis, struggling to cope with how you are feeling, unsure what is happening. Are you keeping these feelings to yourself or masking them with drugs or alcohol.

It’s essential we all listen to how we feel, or watch our loved ones to ensure we are all well. The signs and symptoms of anxiety and depression are very individual. It’s normal to feel low or sad every now and then, but with depression the symptoms last at least two week and are felt most of the time with associated lack of interest or pleasure in activities and physical symptoms such as pain, sickness or tiredness. Negative self-thoughts such as worthless & failure are strong along with loss of confidence, feeling overwhelmed, irritability or guilt. (see end of article for list of symptoms)

Two things are hugely important but difficult to do.

First if you are the sufferer, you must reach out for help, people are there for you, we have heard it all and worse before, you are worthwhile and worth it.

The second is others around you providing support. 

Many effective treatments exist for anxiety and depression, and the sooner support is seeked, the sooner the recovery.

Talking to one of our GP’s is a great starting point. They can provide many treatment options and a GP management plan allowing Medicare rebates for psychological services that the government has recently extended. 

If you feel a loved one is struggling, you being a support is extremely important. However it’s often difficult to know how to do this. Try not to shut conversations down, you do not need to have the answers and show you can be trusted. Do not always focus on the negative but provide hope or change the focus of attention on something positive together.

Suicide may be a concern. Given the widespread stigma around suicide, most people who are thinking about suicide don’t know who to talk to about it.  Rather than encouraging suicidal behaviour, talking openly about what is going on can actually really help.

Ensure you prepare to have these open supportive conversations. Choose a time and place where you can talk openly and easily, without getting interrupted. It’s important that you don’t have to be anywhere or have other commitments – it might take a long time to have this conversation and your friend or loved one needs to feel that you have time to listen.

  • Ask open ended questions, encouraging the conversation. How long have you been feeling this way? Have you felt this way before?
  • Make sure the person knows you’re here for them. Use non-verbal cues like eye contact, hand on their hand, nodding while they are talking.
  • Let the person know that lots of people think about suicide and that it’s OK to talk about those feelings. You’re not alone, lots of people feel like this. Thank you for telling me. I’m glad you’re telling me how you feel.

Here are some other questions that can help:

“I’m here for you”

“I’m not sure what to do, but I’m sure we can figure it out together”

“What can I do to help? Just tell me how.”

“I know it doesn’t feel like it now but there is hope that things can get better.”

“ Do you feel like doing something together to take you mind off things?”

“I am sorry if I said the wrong thing, can we start again?”

“This conversation is between me and you”.

What not to do:

  • In regards to suicide: Don’t try to talk them out of it by reminding them ‘what they’ve got going for them’ or how much it would hurt their friends and family.
  • Don’t try to fix their problems. Listen with empathy and without judgement.
  • Don’t dismiss it as ‘attention seeking’. Take them seriously and acknowledge the reasons they want to die.

If you need further help or advice as the sufferer or carer please do not hesitate to call for a chat. We are here, we want to help and support and you deserve it. Don’t feel alone.

To seek help contact us on 1800 BestGP

or Beyond blue:

https://www.beyondblue.org.au/get-support/get-immediate-support

Lifeline 13 11 14

Suicide call back service 1300 659 467

Beyond blue 1300 22 4636

Common symptoms of depression:

Behaviour

  • not going out anymore
  • not getting things done at work/school
  • withdrawing from close family and friends
  • relying on alcohol and sedatives
  • not doing usual enjoyable activities
  • unable to concentrate

Feelings

  • overwhelmed
  • guilty
  • irritable
  • frustrated
  • lacking in confidence
  • unhappy
  • indecisive
  • disappointed
  • miserable
  • sad

Thoughts

  • ‘I’m a failure.’
  • ‘It’s my fault.’
  • ‘Nothing good ever happens to me.’
  • ‘I’m worthless.’
  • ‘Life’s not worth living.’
  • ‘People would be better off without me.’

Physical

  • tired all the time
  • sick and run down
  • headaches and muscle pains
  • churning gut
  • sleep problems
  • loss or change of appetite
  • significant weight loss or gain