Understanding Anxiety and Depression

The core of a person’s mental health lies with the person’s ability to preference his or her expectations. When we come to believe that our lives must conform to a certain script, we buy into an illusion which dictates that our happiness depends on things occurring in a specific order and we end up placing ourselves in a mental box.

Take for example, a common mindset most college students have is this; go to college, study hard, make good grades, land a good paying job, find love, get married and live happily ever after. Life is unpredictable and diverse, and seldom do things go according to any plan in one’s life. Conforming to any script is a set up for misery, and an attitude of intolerance towards others.

The most common mental issues I treat are anxiety and depression,  with depression being either anger expressed towards one’s self or towards others. When people struggle with either chronic fear of impending doom or a chronic sense of hopelessness, it’s simply because things are not going their way,  or more specifically, things are not going according to their expectations.

Understanding Anxiety

People who struggle with chronic anxiety are usually very astute. They struggle with a conflicted mind. While they strongly believe that things in their lives should go in a specific order, they are very aware that besides death, nothing is guaranteed. People who struggle with anxiety seem to be stuck in a situation analogous to the Catholic description of purgatory. They enjoy the idea of a structured and predictable life,  however they are aware that such a life is not entirely realistic because it is dependent on changing variables beyond their control. They recognize that in order to seek fulfillment that they must take risks, but they are terrified of the consequences associated with failing, hence they remain stuck in a box they know is not a box.

Understanding Depression

Depression happens primarily as a result of things not going a person’s way. Depression can be very complex because some times people have very good reasons to be depressed and poor reasons to be depressed.

There are three types of depression I treat,  the first is depression as a result of anxiety. Basically this is a result of becoming depressed about experiencing chronic anxiety. These people want to experience happiness, but have become addicted to their fears of things going terribly wrong and they now find themselves in a chronic state of misery.

The second type of depression is clinical depression. People who struggle with clinical depression have bought into an ideology about how their lives should unfold based on their actions. Their depression results when their lives unfold differently than they anticipated. Instead of reevaluating their beliefs and actions, they reach the conclusion that they are not doing things well enough. Hence they develop a subconscious deep resentment of self (anger turned inwards). They will usually report that they have lost interest in activities they have previously enjoyed doing in the past. This makes a lot sense,  given that they most likely engaged in these events not necessarily for the sheer satisfaction of doing so,  but as a stepping stone to achieve a goal. When their goals are not materialized,  they naturally lose interest in the activity. At its worst, people struggling with clinical depression have given up on themselves,  and are considering suicide.

The third type of depression is rage. A more common definition for this type of depression is poor anger management. People who struggle with poor anger management, blame others for things not going their way. They have come to genuinely believe that things in their lives are not going as planned due to the poor choices of others. They are quick to lash out verbally and sometimes physically at others. These people have also subscribed to the belief that happiness can only be achieved at the expense of others. In the presence of these people once you get past the anger, what’s left is an overwhelming sense of hopelessness. These people have come to see themselves as weak and worthless. This is because they believe that since others are having their ways with them and that they must be weak and worthless.

In reality most clients I treat for anxiety and depression, are on a spectrum. That is they have a significant degree of anxiety and each type of depression I just mentioned. However, treatment is geared towards the type of illness they present the most with.

I am going to do a part two of this post,  where I write about how anxiety and depression can be cured. That’s right, cured.

If you like what you just read, please feel free to share with people you believe would benefit from reading this post.

Also all feed backs are most welcome in the comment section.

Ugo is a psychotherapist and owner of Road 2 Resolutions PLLC, a professional counseling and life coaching service.
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11 thoughts on “Understanding Anxiety and Depression

  1. Nicely done, Uche.
    Personally, as a creative (I use that word with a sacred sense, not as a personal achievement…bet you’ll analyse that later lol) I have gone through all of these forms of depression and anxiety. Each journey doesn’t prepare you for the next and it is a heavy load to carry when you have bills to pay and deadlines to meet and clients to wow and…let’s not forget the parents who still can’t figure out why you won’t do ‘real work’. Sigh.

    Your piece solves half the problem by identifying and classifying it. And that is important. (Did someone mention Rumpelstiltskin?) Still I thank you for putting into words.

    Thank you, Uche

    1. Remi sorry O! The system was automatically set to pick “avatars” for those who don’t have their pics up. I have changed this strange rule. Unfortunately it appears that my changes only apply for future comments.

  2. Depression can be fatal, that's why it is important to seek treatment, otherwise there will be bigger problems in the future. Most depressions come from anxiety but whatever type of depression the person is going through, it is still best to pay deal with it. Good points on understanding anxiety and depression. I'm looking forward to the part two of this post which is the cure.

    http://www.kathierayannis.com/

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