Mood disorders such as anxiety and depression are very common in the population. According to the World Health Organization, depression is the leading cause of disability worldwide (1). With mood disorders becoming so prevalent that it is important to find healthy ways to cope with and prevent them.
What are Anxiety and Depression?
Anxiety can be described as looping thoughts of worry and the associated physical manifestations. This may include elevated blood pressure, trouble sleeping, trembling, excessive urination, irritability, and inability to cope with stress. Anxiety may present itself with depression and interfere with daily life.
Depression is a common mental disorder with feelings of sadness, loss of interest in daily life, low energy levels, feelings of worthlessness, and even suicidal thoughts. It may also manifest symptoms such as sleep disturbances, changes in appetite, and anxiety.
Depression can present itself from mild to wild. It can range from a couple of days of low-mood and sadness to having a depressive mood most of the time. Depressive episodes are not uncommon in response to death or other forms of grief.
Why are Depression and Anxiety so Prevalent?
Nowadays, our environments demand a lot from us. School, work, family, and even personal goals all play a role in this demand. Unfortunately, not many of us know how to balance these demands in a healthy manner.
Furthermore, the new era of social media and social media marketing seems to have an effect on the incidence of anxiety and depression. We are constantly bombarded with ads about the ideal life, body, job, partner, look, and countless others. These ideals are usually pushed onto us with marketing purposes to make us spend money on certain clothes, foods, and activities.
The Effects of Social Media
Social media plays a major role in building expectations when it comes to income, body image, romantic relationships, material objects (cars, clothing, etc) and success. Furthermore, it represents an uncontrolled platform for unrealistic comparisons with other people that are detrimental to happiness and well-being. People on social media tend to share only the best parts of their day, making others feel less by comparison.
An increasing incidence of depressive moods is associated with the increasing use of social media. Quitting or limiting social media time might be an easy way to fight depressive moods and promote happiness.
Tips for Happiness
- Exercise– Exercise brings many benefits to mood and overall health. The benefits of exercise on mood beat that of any antidepressant. Exercise can increase cognitive ability, bring clarity, boost energy levels, and increase confidence in body image. Research shows that depressed individuals who exercise undergo significant improvements in their symptoms of depression (2). Exercise also raises one’s chances of recovery.
- Meditate- Meditation helps control both anxiety and depression. This is due to techniques that train our brains to steer away from negative thoughts and concentrate on the present moment. Breathing techniques associated with different types of meditation can also help control anxiety and associated symptoms- such as trembling and elevated heart rate. Meditation techniques are excellent for preventing a cascade of negative thoughts and emotions.
- Gratitude Journals- A gratitude journal is a journal in which you write all the things that you are thankful for. Taking the time to review the positives in your life helps to boost overall mood and promote happiness. This exercise will also help you analyze the things in life that you take for granted but are fundamental to your everyday life. Keeping a gratitude journal is a great way to boost mood.
“Depression.” World Health Organization, World Health Organization, 4 July 2017, http://www.who.int/en/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/depression
Babyak, M, et al. “Exercise Treatment for Major Depression: Maintenance of Therapeutic Benefit at 10 Months.” Current Neurology and Neuroscience Reports., U.S. National Library of Medicine, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11020092.