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The Connection Between Anxiety, Panic Attacks, and Depression: Practical Ways to Manage Them

Anxiety, panic attacks and depression are unfortunately for anyone who experiences them mental health conditions that have strong connections with each other and which can be closely interwoven.

These conditions affect millions of people around the world although for an individual experiencing their affects you can often feel very alone and isolated.

The symptoms experienced by all three can greatly overlap and exacerbate each other and can feel incredibly paralysing. Understanding their connection is important to manage them affectively and to improve a person’s wellbeing.

Anxiety for many can be a persistent feeling of fear or worry with the unease caused being hugely disruptive to every day life.

Panic attacks are intense episodes of worry and fear that are also accompanied with physical symptoms such as pains in the chest and arms, Chest tightness, shortness of breath and a rapid heartbeat. These symptoms can often encourage the person to feel that they are suffering from other conditions with many explaining that they believed and were worried that they were having a heart attack, often with those experiencing these conditions presenting themselves to medical staff stating that they were having heart issues.

It is common for Anxiety and panic attacks to coexist and to share similar traits such as extreme worry, loss of appetite, affected sleep patterns, change in mood, nervousness and shaking. Both Anxiety and panic attacks can lead to or occur with depression with the constant feelings experienced leading to Helplessness, sadness, hopelessness, extreme tiredness and irritability which are hallmarks of depression.

These symptoms can greatly affect thoughts around self-care which help to continue the cycle which can greatly know self-esteem and confidence. This in turn can also lead to social isolation and general functioning that can further contribute to depressive symptoms. It is important to seek help, and support is essential to gain a proper diagnosis to identify the underlining causes and to formulate a suitable plan.

There are many things that can help such as various therapies, exercise plans and medication which can be gained separately or combined.

Sleep is often one of the first things that is affected during this time and the exhausting affects of having a sleep pattern disrupted can greatly enhance the feelings experienced from anxiety. It is important for the bodies repair to regain a healthy sleep pattern where possible and is often a start to breaking the cycle.

This can be gained by talking with professionals, changing diets and exercising or through medication via a GP. Physical activity has been proven to help with mental health although when experiencing the symptoms mentioned here we can lack motivation and energy to take up physical exercise.

Work for many people also may be greatly affected and can feel like a challenge however small steps such as taking brief walks, slow returns back to work or completing tasks such as cleaning , gardening or other hobbies can slowly help us to grow our motivation and to help our self-esteem which then in turn can help to improve our happiness. Practicing relaxation techniques can also greatly help such as meditation, breathing exercises and mindfulness. All can promote a sense of relaxation and calm and it is good to keep trying different techniques to discover what works best for you. Often a mixture of activities can help with the main importance being that of keeping open minded to trying and experimenting to find what suits you as an individual best.

For example one or a mixture of the following may help.

Therapies: There are a number of therapies that can help with conditions such as Anxiety , panic attacks and depression which include –

Exposure therapy – involves gradually exposing individuals to situations that encourage feelings of anxiousness in a managed and controlled way to increase an individual’s tolerance to those situations and fears.

Acceptance therapy:

Helps individuals accept their anxiety rather than trying to eliminate it and to develop skills to live a meaningful life even with anxiety.

Cognitive Behavioural Therapy :

One of the most well-known and widely used CBT is a widely recognized psychotherapy approach for anxiety, panic attacks, and depression. It helps individuals identify and change negative thought patterns that contribute to their symptoms. By challenging irrational beliefs and replacing them with more constructive thoughts, CBT empowers individuals to regain control over their emotions and reactions.

Mindfulness based Therapies:

Therapies that help to reduce stress and help individuals to develop skills to focus their attention to the present moment rather than catastrophising about the future or worrying about the past. Self-Care: Self-care is extremely important when managing anxiety, panic attacks or depression. Regaining good sleep patterns , a balanced diet, limiting alcohol, caffeine and added sugars Taking care of yourself is paramount when managing anxiety, panic attacks, and depression. Make sure to prioritize sufficient sleep, maintain a balanced diet, limit alcohol and caffeine intake, and engage in activities that bring you joy. Gain a supportive network of family, friends and professionals which may include peer led support groups all of who can provide important emotional support during difficult times. Final Thought:

Anxiety, panic attacks and depression can often encourage us to feel helpless and hopeless due to the way that they affect us. However there are many things that we can do to manage the feelings better and greatly reduce their affects if not stop them completely. This does take patience and some trial and error finding one, a couple or a mixture of a number of methods to help ourselves.

I feel that it is incredibly important to look at our self-talk during these times and not to see it as a battle or a fight with anxiety etc but instead that you are learning to manage it. To be battling anxiety is a conflict and this conflict is with ourselves, our feelings and our thoughts and instead the answer lays with being kinder and treating and talking to ourselves as we would to a good friend.

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