We all have days when we feel sad and tired and we just don’t want to get out of bed. And we all have days when we encounter something that gets us anxious and all worked up. But for those dealing with mood and anxiety disorders every day, it goes beyond that one day or that one time. These conditions are very real, disruptive to life, and may even lead to substance abuse and addiction without proper treatment.
Being told to smile or relax just doesn’t cut it. Women who face each day with a mood or anxiety disorder usually aren’t equipped with the skills and tools necessary to overcome the harsh, crippling symptoms. And those around them just don’t understand what the big deal is.
The more we talk about it, the more accepting and understanding we become, and the more women will step up and seek treatment.
If you find yourself turning to substances to ease the discomfort caused by mood and anxiety disorders, consider exploring the benefits of treatment for co-occurring disorders.
What are Mood and Anxiety Disorders?
Mood and anxiety disorders are often lumped together, but they are two different types of mental health conditions. Both, however, have a high prevalence among women – and they usually both appear together.
Mood disorders can make it hard to get through a day. Just going through the motions is a reason to cheer because many women who deal with mood disorders have a hard time just showing up to life. These disorders can impact your moods, your thoughts, your actions, your emotions, and even your reactions. Below are the 3 most common mood disorders:
- Depression – incredibly strong feelings of hopelessness and sadness.
- Bipolar Disorders – characteristic of extreme mood changes, from one extreme to the other. Includes depressive episodes and very high-energy manic episodes.
- Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) – this is a depression that results from the seasons. It occurs during the fall and winter months when the days get shorter and the sunlight is not as prevalent.
Anxiety disorders usually contain feelings of intense worry, fear, or unease. And they may appear in different situations. This could be due to unrealistic expectations, high levels of stress, fear of the unknown, substance use, having poor coping skills, or even physical problems that lead to worry and fear.
Anxiety disorders greatly impact one’s life and functioning in the day-to-day processes of it. But those who have anxiety disorders may differ from one another. One person may have a gigantic fear about being in crowds or large social situations while someone else may not even want to leave the house! Still, others may have a generalized version that affects all different aspects of life. Here are the most commonly diagnosed anxiety disorders:
- Generalized Anxiety Disorders (GAD) – this is the stress and worry about everyday life.
- Panic Disorders – these are sudden, very strong but short-lived bouts of fear and anxiety, but with strong symptoms.
- Social Anxiety Disorder – as its name suggests, it is the increase of anxiety when around people.
How to Recognize Mood and Anxiety Disorders
Certain symptoms are commonly present with mood and anxiety disorders. Though it is important to know that these will vary from person to person. And not every woman will experience every symptom. Nonetheless, below you will find a list of the most common symptoms of mood and anxiety disorders.
For mood disorders, one may feel:
- Sadness, hopelessness, empty
- Low self-esteem
- Feelings of inadequacy
- Physical pains and complaints
- Aggressive and irritable
- Loss of interest
- Disrupted sleep and eating patterns
- Relationship struggles
As for anxiety disorders, this one can be broken down into both mental and physical symptoms. One may feel:
- Racing thoughts
- Inability to concentrate
- Feeling on heightened alert
- Feelings of wanting to escape
- Disrupted sleep patterns
- Appetite changes
- Increased heart rate
- Feeling hot and flushed
- Dry mouth
- Dizziness or faint
- Muscle tension
- Uncontrollable breathing
There is something worth noting that everyone needs to be aware of. Not all people who are sad have depression, but if you notice someone showing some signs, then pay attention. Just as if you notice someone struggling with anxiety that makes it hard to function throughout the day, pay attention.
Many people who have either of these conditions do a very good job of hiding it. Many will smile and pretend as though life is fine — even when they feel like dying inside. And both mood disorders and anxiety have had reports of suicide ideation before seeking treatment.
Suicide is real. And it can be prevented when the signs are caught and help is available. If you suspect that you or someone you love may be suffering from a mood or anxiety disorder – and suicide ideation is present – then call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-8255.
What Causes Mood and Anxiety Disorders?
Mood and anxiety disorders can occur for all sorts of reasons, but most commonly, they stem from:
- Genetics/family history
- Previous mood disorder diagnosis
- Trauma, stress, major life changes (especially relating to depression)
- Physical illness
- Certain medications
- Brain structure/function (relating to bipolar disorder)
It is very common for environmental factors to play a large role in mood and anxiety disorders. That is why treatment situations will often work to uncover and remove any aggravating factors. When this happens, symptoms can clear up and the individual will begin to feel better.
Treatment for Mood and Anxiety Disorders
Mood and anxiety disorders can be treated rather simply using a combination of medication and psychotherapy. You may, of course, try one or the other, but most professionals agree that a combination of the two yields the best results.
If substance abuse is also a factor, then that needs to be treated at the same time, as well. It is not uncommon for women dealing with these conditions to turn to drugs and alcohol as a means of self-medicating rather than seeking treatment. Unfortunately, this can quickly lead to dependence on the substance and, eventually, addiction.
In order for someone to find healing and lead a successful recovery, all aspects of mental health and substance abuse need to be treated. Seeking this in a holistic environment that promotes whole-body healing is the perfect option.