Depression or anxiety can manifest during times of extreme stress or change. While it’s okay to experience these feelings, it’s not normal to have them impact your life in a way that leaves you feeling out of control.

Common signs of stress, anxiety and depression

Living with constant anxiety can be terrifying and can negatively affect other parts of your life. Likewise, extreme sadness or depression not only impacts you but those around you.

Here are some common signs that your stress, depression or anxiety may need assistance:

  • if you have trouble sleeping and you can’t stop focusing on minor negative thoughts or experiences
  • if you no longer find activities you used to love enjoyable – they may now even seem like a burden or chore
  • if you’re spending most of your time thinking about work or responsibilities, with no “light at the end of the tunnel”
  • being exhausted by even the idea of new projects or commitments
  • finding yourself snapping at the people you are closest to
  • feeling overwhelmed by the smallest things.

More about stress

Stress is a natural response to threatening situations and can be beneficial in small doses. However, too much stress can affect mental and physical health, particularly if it becomes chronic or overwhelming. Stress can affect all aspects of you: physical, mental, psychological and behavioural.

If you are experiencing symptoms of stress, it’s best to see your doctor as it can contribute to more serious health problems, such as high blood pressure, heart disease, obesity and diabetes. Chronic and severe stress can increase the risk of developing depression, anxiety, substance abuse or a range of other mental issues.

Physically, you may experience:

  • headaches
  • other aches and pains
  • sleep disturbance
  • fatigue
  • upset stomach, diarrhea
  • muscle tension
  • change in sex drive (male or female).

Psychologically, the symptoms of stress affecting your mind, thoughts and feelings may include:

  • anxiety, worry
  • anger, irritability
  • depression
  • feeling overwhelmed and out of control
  • feeling moody, tearful
  • difficulty concentrating
  • low self-esteem, lack of confidence.

Behaviourally, the symptoms of stress impacting your behaviour may include:

  • overeating or undereating
  • outbursts
  • relationship problems
  • alcohol, smoking or drug abuse
  • avoiding people.

Everyone encounters stressful situations at times, and learning about managing stress can involve different strategies.

More about anxiety

Anxiety is the leading cause of illness worldwide and can be very disabling.

The term anxiety can refer to a wide range of feelings such as worry, nervousness or sense of apprehension.

Not all anxiety is unhealthy. Anxiety serves a purpose in that it keeps many people from taking unwise risks or knowingly putting themselves in untenable situations. Without some level of anxiety, many people would never keep money in their savings for an emergency, plan for retirement, or even have routine visits with their doctor.

But we often feel increased anxiety when we try something new or are called upon to do things such as give a speech or presentation before others.

Typical symptoms of anxiety include:

  • confusion
  • trembling
  • sweating
  • faintness/ dizziness
  • rapid heartbeat
  • difficulty breathing
  • upset stomach or nausea
  • restlessness
  • avoidance behaviour
  • irritability.

A number of factors contribute to anxiety such as heredity, biochemical factors, life experiences, personality style, thinking style and behavioural style, which we explore in our initial sessions.

More about depression

After anxiety, depression is the next leading cause of illness worldwide and can be very disabling. In Australia, one in six people will experience depression in their lifetime. The estimate is that one in five women and one in eight men will be affected.

It is perfectly normal to feel sad or disappointed from time to time. Life is full of disappointments. However, when those feelings are more intense or long lasting there may be a bigger problem. And if those feelings are distressing and interfere with your day to day activities and relationships, you may be suffering from depression. People who suffer from depression may find it hard to function in everyday situations and it can have severe and profound effects on your physical and mental health.

Sometimes the cause is obvious, but other times it is deeper seated and hidden and requires time to fully understand it.

There are usually a number of causal factors of depression such as heredity, biochemical, stress, and personality traits.

Typical symptoms include:

  • loss of interest in pleasurable activities
  • worrying and negative thinking
  • irritability, agitation and fatigue
  • changes in sleeping patterns
  • a sense of hopelessness.

How counselling and therapy can help with your stress, anxiety and depression

Tools and techniques
Initially we will explore your symptoms and create tools for dealing with the symptoms. We’ll work out some techniques and strategies to help you function well again.

You’ll learn to identify the onset of symptoms in the future before they become debilitating, as well as ways to control or reduce the symptoms through practising the techniques I’ll give you.

Some people feel empowered just by having some techniques and can break the cycle and move forward, because they are less fearful.

The underlying causes
With psychotherapy we aim to understand the source of your anxiety or depression. It can be due to heredity, biochemical, stress, or personality traits. Sometimes the cause is obvious, sometimes more deeply seated or hidden and requires time to become fully understood. Once identified, we can then work towards addressing those underlying causes.