Combatting Increasing Rates of Anxiety and Depression

Couple sitting together

Levels of depression and anxiety are at an all-time high. Currently the top two reasons individuals go to counseling is for anxiety and depression.
 
Since the 1940’s, depression and anxiety in young adults have shown a significant increase according to the National Institutes of Health. From 2005 to 2015, depression rose among Americans ages 12 and older with the most rapid increases seen in young people. Children are requiring psychiatric help and treatment earlier and more frequently with more children and adults seeking help. Dave Schroeder, Ph.D., LPC, says that one of the main issues is losing connection with others.
 
Schroeder is the director of the Clinical Mental Health Counseling program for the School of Health Professions. He gives several tips to combat anxiety and depression in an age of an online world.
 
Connect. Half an hour of face-to-face time talking with a friend or someone we appreciate is a major asset to helping individuals with potential for depression. Research shows that large networks of friends aren’t necessary to have the benefits of social interaction. Simply having one person, even a pet, to connect and communicate with helps boost happiness.
 
Disconnect. With constant notifications and a never-ending stream of entertainment available on our smart phones, Schroeder encourages individuals to take time to set aside phones and online entertainment and disconnect with technology. It’s so easy to lose a grasp on reality and the connections one has when focused on online entertainment.
 
Many people feel a mismatch between what they see online and reality. A new study in the American Journal of Preventative Medicine finds that the more time a young adult uses social media, the more likely they are to feel socially isolated. This disconnect can cause decreased satisfaction with life and lower self-confidence, making disconnecting from the online sphere crucial to combatting depression.
 
Identify something good in each day. Even for patients and individuals who have really difficult circumstances, Schroeder says that we can all find something good in each day. Recognizing good can help reduce toxic emotions like frustration, envy, stress and discouragement. For years, research has shown that gratitude is a major contributor to reducing stress. As stress increases, individuals are more likely to experience negative emotional health including depression and anxiety.
 
The more negative images an individual takes in, the less dopamine and serotonin available to circulate in your brain. These neurotransmitters help make people happy. When an individual takes negativity in, it can be very hard to feel positive.
 
“The better I can help people connect with the people in their lives and make better choices about the people in their lives, the better off they are,” Schroeder said. Reconnecting with life and finding happiness where we are comes from simple changes that can minimize anxiety and depression.
 
For more information about the Clinical Mental Health Counseling program, please visit https://www.ttuhsc.edu/health-professions/master-of-science-clinical-mental-health-counseling/

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