When it comes to living a happy life, there are many things that need to play their part. Diet certainly matters, as does exercise, a fulfilling social life and harmonious relationships. But our thinking also matters a great deal because even if we have all these good things, if we don’t appreciate them we can fall victim to negative thinking.

 I heard a lovely analogy once talking about how we can arrive into a beautiful city, but get distracted by the pot hole in the street, and thereafter miss all the beauty surrounding us. It really is all about perspective. When we are feeling depressed, we first start thinking depressing thoughts and then our perspective becomes tainted by these thoughts and thus imbalanced.  When we are feeling anxious, we have first started thinking worrisome and fearful thoughts which then colours our perception which again becomes imbalanced.

 Anxiety and depression are different conditions but there are many similarities between the two and one can lead to the other.  For example, after a severe panic attack some people find themselves so drained of energy and so emotionally upset that they develop temporary, and sometimes even long lasting, depression as a result, as though their emotions and happiness are drained out of them.

 While those with anxiety tend to fear the future and those with depression see the future as more hopeless, both believe that the worst is likely to happen. Both anxiety and depression are related to the same neurotransmitters as well, which is one of the reasons they have similar thoughts, since neurotransmitters affect thinking and perception.

 I believe that while we must tend to our diet, exercise and other lifestyle factors, we must not neglect the mental aspect of these conditions. This is when seeking the help of an expert can make all the difference.  So how can you tell if you or someone you know is experiencing depression or anxiety?  Symptoms of depression, courtesy of CalmClinic can include the following:

  • continuous low mood or sadness
  • feeling hopeless and helpless
  • having low self-esteem
  • feeling tearful
  • feeling guilt-ridden
  • feeling irritable and intolerant of others
  • having no motivation or interest in things
  • finding it difficult to make decisions
  • not getting any enjoyment out of life
  • having suicidal thoughts or thoughts of harming yourself
  • feeling anxious or worried

Depression drains your energy, hope, and drive, making it difficult to do what you need to do to feel better.  While overcoming it isn’t quick or easy, it’s far from impossible. You can’t just will yourself to “snap out of it,” but you do have some control. The key is to start small and build from there. Feeling better takes time but you can get there if you make positive choices for yourself each day.

 If you find your depression is getting worse, you must talk to a professional and get help. If you or someone you know are experiencing suicidal thoughts, or losing hope in life, please contact a doctor or psychologist immediately.  Remember that it’s the neurotransmitters in your brain that cause these feelings, i.e. your thoughts, not anything out there in the world, so it’s important that you don’t allow them to take you over. You do get to choose.