As the global pandemic drags on and the economy slumps, it’s important to keep one eye on our mates as statistically, many will battle with depression, anxiety, or both.
There are a ton of benefits to being a guy, and we all know what they are. Whether it’s the fact we don’t have to endure childbirth or the fact we can pee virtually anywhere, it’s great to be a man. However, one drawback is that society has, for centuries, curated an image of men as non-emotional, leading to the internalisation (read complete suppression) of feelings that can, in turn, led us down a dark and slippery mental health path.
Anxiety and depression are often thought of as two sides of the same coin – they have several overlapping symptoms and in some cases, can even cause one another. These two conditions are so linked that around 50% of people diagnosed with depression will eventually develop an anxiety disorder as well.
The many similarities between the conditions make it difficult for a person suffering from some of the symptoms to understand exactly what they’re battling with. Overcoming these nasty beasts is something no one should have to go through alone, so we’re here to lend a helping hand to help you figure out if you’re actually depressed, anxious, or just down in the dumps.
Is Your Body Out of Whack?
Anxiety and depression are both mental illnesses, but they share many physical manifestations that can catch a person off-guard. Nausea, difficulty concentrating, changes in appetite, and diarrhoea (which in fairness catches everyone off-guard) are all shared physical symptoms of anxiety and depression.
However, the two conditions do have major differences that can help you distinguish between them. Anxiety is characterized by being in a constant state of fight-or-flight, leading to increased heart rate, muscle tension, blood pressure, shortness of breath, and dizziness. A person suffering from anxiety will appear wired as negative thoughts race through their heads, manifesting as jumpy and skittish behaviour.
If anxiety is out there and in your face, depression is more of a sinister lurker. People suffering from depression tend to move slowly – they can be slow to get their day started, to get on top of work, to finish their errands – they seem to exist in a constant state of being late and difficult to motivate. Their sleep is also heavily affected, and they often suffer from either insomnia or excessive sleep due to constant rumination or low energy throughout the day.
Is Your Mind Your Worst Enemy?
Depression and anxiety also have confusing similarities in the way they affect your mental health. Both can make a person feel excessively irritable, anti-social, and even cause a general loss of interest in activities that used to be pleasurable, such as pints with your mates or buy-one take-one pizza.
The trademark of anxiety is stress, stress, and more stress. Such high levels of stress are brought about by worrying about the future to a degree that is unreasonable compared to what may realistically happen. For example, a person with anxiety may not go on an easy hike in perfect weather due to the fear of a worst-case scenario coming true, such as being buried under a mudslide.
If anxiety’s biggest tell is a constant state of stress, depression’s is overwhelming sadness and despondency. This stems from a general feeling of hopelessness, that nothing positive will ever happen, causing a person to simply stop trying at life. Feelings of worthlessness and powerlessness are also common among those suffering from depression.
One of the best ways to distinguish between anxiety and depression is that while an anxious person is constantly worried about the future, a depressed person does not worry about the future at all because they feel that nothing good is going to happen anyway. Anxious people also seem to fear death, but depressed people think that their death would simply relieve those around them of a burden. In extreme cases, depressed people have persistent suicidal thoughts.
When Should You Get Help?
If you’ve been experiencing several symptoms of anxiety, depression, or both for a period of a few months or more, you need to do yourself a solid by seeking out some professional help. Just like there’s nothing wrong with going to a doctor if you have the flu, there’s nothing wrong with going to a doctor if you have, or suspect you have, a mental illness. The traditional stigma around mental health is changing and more and more men are seeking, and finding help.
Times are hard, so we’ve got to be there, for our friends and for ourselves.
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