Anxiety & Depression – You’re not alone.

By Alison Malawey

Staff Writer

You’re feeling nervous. Your body is tensing and trembling. You feel like your stomach is trying to crawl out of your throat. Your heart rate is increasing, and you’re breathing faster.

The sense of impending doom is the only thing that fills your mind. You want to avoid anything and everything that makes you feel any worse than you already do.

What is this? It’s anxiety.

It’s exhausting and the feeling can make you unable to perform the most basic tasks.

According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, anxiety disorders affect 40 million adults in the United States every year.

It is the most common mental illness in the U.S. While anxiety disorders are highly treatable, only 36.9 percent of those suffering receive treatment.

Healthline Media says when you feel anxious and stressed, your brain floods your nervous system with hormones and chemicals, like adrenaline and cortisol, which are designed to help you respond to a threat.

Long term exposure to these hormones and chemicals can lead to an array of medical conditions, such as suppression of the immune system, digestive disorders, short-term memory loss, premature coronary artery disease and heart attacks just to name a few.

Those suffering from anxiety are at a higher risk for depression which in turn, exacerbates anxiety.

It’s a vicious cycle.

According to the National Institute of Mental Health, in 2017 an estimated 17.3 million adults in the United States had at least one major depressive episode of which 11 million suffered severe impairment.

The National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) defines a major depressive episode as a period of at least two weeks when a person experiences a depressed mood or loss of interest in daily activities — and has a majority of specified symptoms such as problems with sleep, eating, energy, concentration or self-worth.

The stigma of mental illnesses like depression and anxiety in the U.S. has waned in recent years, but there are still many people who are afraid to seek help.

There’s no shame in admitting that you need help with depression or anxiety. You wouldn’t deny someone trying to help you from drowning, would you?

This year, I lost my grandfather and my older brother to suicide death by gunshot wound to the head. My brother left behind children. The 5-year-old is mostly angry and lashes out, and in doing so, has accidently broken one of their cat’s toes and the other’s leg.

The 3-year-old pulls her hair out at night and cries that she misses her dad. The 19-month-old will never know her father.

The last conversation I had with my brother was as he drove me back to Lawton from Oklahoma City after our grandfather’s funeral.

My car broke down, and I thought I had a test the next day. He offered to give me a ride home.

We talked about how much he had been thinking about suicide. The only thing that stopped him was the idea that his family would be the ones to find him.

That’s probably why, when he did it, he drove himself out to a large parking lot and called the police. He sought help for his depression once. He went to a psychiatrist who spent maybe five minutes with him before sending him on his way with a prescription for antidepressants.

Out of frustration, he refused to seek help again, despite the insistence of his wife. Just like anything else, it’s important to know where to get the best help for you.

It makes no sense to go to a foot doctor for an issue with your heart. If you fail through one avenue, search for another. Not all treatment is the same.

According to the Web-based Injury Statistics Query and Reporting System’s Leading Causes of Death Reports for 2018, suicide was the tenth leading cause of death in the United States.

For Oklahomans, suicide was the ninth leading cause of death and the second leading cause of death for ages 10 – 34.

In 2018, there were an estimated 1.4 million suicide attempts in the U.S., 48,344 of which were successful.

There were 18,830 homicides.

Statistically, you’re more likely to die by your own hands than by someone else’s.

The 2018 NSDUH showed that men died by suicide 3.6 times more often than women, but women were 1.4 times more likely to attempt suicide.

When I was in the seventh grade, I tried to cut my wrists with a plastic butter knife. I was obviously unsuccessful, but I did want to die. The next day was better. I didn’t reach out for help, but things are different today than they were back then.

Suicide rates have been climbing for the past 20 years, and no one expects the current pandemic crisis to help with that situation.

With everyone isolated to their houses, it’s important to reach out to your friends and families, whether it be for your mental health or theirs.

A show I’ve been watching, “The Blacklist” compares the fallout for families of loved ones who commit suicide to the fallout of a suicide bomber.

One of the main characters describes it as “an act of terror perpetrated against everyone who’s ever known you, everyone who’s ever loved you. The people closest to you, the ones who cherish you, are the ones who suffer the most pain, the most damage.”

That may seem harsh, but I couldn’t think of a better way to describe how suicide affects those left behind.

The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (1-800-273-8255) is a free, confidential crisis hotline that is available to everyone 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

The Lifeline connects callers to the nearest crisis center in the Lifeline national network. These centers provide crisis counseling and mental health referrals for anyone in need.

You can also text “HELLO” to 741741 which is the Crisis Text Line. The Crisis Text Line is free, as well, offering 24/7 support for those in crisis by connecting them with a trained Crisis Counselor.

At CU, anyone in crisis can walk into the Student Wellness Center and speak to a counselor immediately.

I drove past a man walking along the road the other day and he smiled at me. It was the most beautiful smile, and it instantly made my day better.

Whether you believe it or not, you are important. The smallest things you do can drastically change someone else’s life. Should you or anyone you know suffer from anxiety, depression or suicidal thoughts please seek
help.

Your feelings are valid, no matter what the issue. Things can get better. You just have to be open to letting them.

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