Friday, January 2, 2009

Rachel's Story - anxiety & depression, a vicious cycle

I always hear psychologists say that anxiety and depression go hand in hand.  That they tend to feed off of one another.  I have always believed this to be true in my case since I do suffer from long bouts of anxiety coupled with my depression.  In fact, before I was ever thought to have bipolar disorder, I was diagnosed with unipolar depression and generalized anxiety disorder.


What I have discovered recently is that, at their worst, depression and anxiety do not coexist simultaneously for me.  That is to say, when I am severely depressed, it seems that my mood is so low that I don’t care about anything.  Nothing worries me.  Everything seems inconsequential.  There is nothing for me to be anxious about.


When I am less depressed I have more energy, which translates into anxious thoughts.  Anxiety is terrifying.  I’m always on the defensive, in panic mode.  I become paralyzed.  I’m afraid of the simplest things.  Lately, I’m fearful of being a passenger in the car in icy weather conditions.  I can’t stand being in stores with bright lights and loud sounds and lots of people. Panic sets in.  My heart starts pounding and I feel like I can’t breathe – I’ve got to remove myself from the situation.  Even small holiday gatherings put an amount of stress on me that exceeded my limit…socializing always tends to make me anxious.  I’m trying so hard just to control my symptoms that I cannot focus at all on the conversation or fun that is being had.


So I don’t know which is better.  Depression and anxiety are both scary for different reasons and they seem to cycle back and forth unless you stop them with meds and/or Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT).  In my experience, CBT has only been somewhat helpful…I’ve only had one session so far, I will be continuing in a few weeks.  Has anyone else found HOPE in CBT?


Happy New Year!