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Published on January 15, 2021

Feeling Anxious For No Reason? 6 Ways To Cope With

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Feeling Anxious For No Reason? 6 Ways To Cope With

Have you ever heard the saying, “the only thing we have to fear, is fear itself?”[1]  Simply put, it essentially suggests that if you spend all of your time worrying about how bad things are going to be in the future, you could easily end up stuck in the past. Not to mention the fact that you won’t be able to enjoy the present if you’re living your life consumed by fear and feeling anxious for no reason.

Anxiety itself can come from a variety of stressors, such as medical conditions, relationship issues, and money matters. By definition, anxiety generally refers to “an intense, excessive, and persistent worry and fear that is out of proportion to normally occurring situations that we experience. Some of the most common symptoms of anxiety include insomnia, racing thoughts, poor concentration, irritability, restlessness, palpitations, trembling, nausea, and sweating.”[2]

Similar to your favorite video game, obstacles in life tend to get a lot more challenging the further along you go, increasing your level of stress as you reach each milestone or complete each mission. No one is immune to experiencing stress.

If you’re alive, you’re going to feel some form of stress at one point or another in your life, it’s inevitable. And as most of us already know by now, having too much stress in our lives can lead directly to severe anxiety.

So now, let’s take a look at some anxiety-busting strategies to help you cope more effectively with the severe and debilitating experience of feeling anxious for no reason.

1. Set Realistic Goals

Although you may be able to accomplish anything that you put your mind to—such as losing weight, improving your relationships, or making more money—carefully consider the level of stress involved in whatever it is that you intend to do.

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Become a student of your surroundings. Learn as much about the people, places, and things in your life as possible. Whether your dream is to bring the world closer together by creating a brand new social media platform or to open up a cool corner cafe in your own hometown, you’re going to have to be able to cope with some form of stress to make whatever you decide to do in your life a success.

With that said, set goals that are challenging but attainable with hard work and determination.

2. Set Firm Boundaries

Map out your emotional territory. From the very beginning of history, conflict has been an inherent part of the human experience. The more conflict, the more stress, and the more stress, the more anxiety, and so on.

Besides learning how to strengthen your body and soul, you can significantly reduce symptoms of anxiety by taking better care of your mind. When you set firm boundaries with others, you give yourself the emotional space to process the value of relationships on your terms.

Let the people that surround you know exactly what you are willing to do and how far you are willing to go. Ultimately, this will help you avoid feeling overwhelmed by setting realistic and manageable expectations with others.

3. Set Priorities

Choose your emotional battles wisely. Not every stressful situation necessarily leads to debilitating symptoms of anxiety. Rather than trying to tackle the most profound obstacles in your way all at once, reverse triage the situation by chipping away at smaller issues first.

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Consider taking on challenges that you feel you can manage effectively with the least amount of effort. Get the momentum going as you lead with your strengths. And then, as you begin to break through each obstacle in your way, take a personal inventory of your accomplishments. Take note of all the progress that you were able to make along the way, as well as how you were able to muster up the courage and internal fortitude to keep moving forward even in your most difficult and precarious moments.

This should help you build a greater sense of self-confidence as you reflect on your own achievements. Similar to the lion in the classic movie, The Wizard of Oz, the more aware you are of your own ability to handle stressful situations and overcome adversity, the less anxious you will ultimately feel.

4. Pace Yourself

When you’re feeling anxious for no reason, one of the best things to do is to pace yourself. Life is a marathon, not a sprint. The key to longevity in whatever you do is setting a manageable pace to avoid burning out before you make it to the finish line.

So, try not to get ahead of yourself as you work your way up and through the gauntlet of impending issues that we will all ultimately face along the way in life. Rome wasn’t built in a day, neither will your own personal empire, no matter how entrepreneurial or emotionally fuel-efficient you may be.

Rather than trying to accomplish all of your goals as fast as possible, you may be better off striving to reach attainable milestones on your journey. Whether you’re dealing with problems at work or home, do as much as you can to address and resolve your issues without getting yourself stressed out and overwhelmed.

And if you just can’t get a handle on the situation, know when to say when. You just may need to step away from the battle for a moment or two, so that you can ultimately return to the front and fight the good fight another day emotionally re-energized.

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5. Talk to Someone

You can’t see the forest from the road. That is unless you’re able to somehow see above the treeline. Many of us experience tunnel vision when we’re dealing with something that we perceive to be a major problem in our lives. We find ourselves consumed with the circumstances that surround whatever it is that’s bothering us while losing sight of many of the other important things in our lives.

From my personal experience, I know how hard it can be to open up about your feelings, especially if you live a fast-paced life with little downtime to reflect or come from a family where no one was ever encouraged to express their feelings. Nevertheless, as a professional mental health interventionist and licensed psychotherapist, I have been a sounding board for countless people in crisis.

Research strongly suggests that taking the time to talk through your greatest fears with the right person can help you break through even some of the most seemingly impenetrable walls of anxiety that you have ever experienced.[3] Talk therapy works if you work it. I strongly suggest that you explore why you feel the way that you do and where those feelings are coming from.

In other words, if you want to change the fruit, you have to start at the root. The more you open up to another person about the things that make you feel anxious, the less likely those things will negatively impact your life moving forward.

6. Breathe

Have you ever worried about something so much that you actually ended up feeling physically sick, emotionally drained, even gasping for air? I know that I have. Sometimes, we may feel anxious for no reason.

If you haven’t realized it by now, life is like a perpetual obstacle course. It’s full of ups and downs, plenty of unexpected twists and turns, a bunch of hurdles, and even a few trap doors along the way. However, rather than being the first to arrive at an actual finish line, you may want to focus your attention on simply being able to make it through to the other side successfully, accomplishing as much as you can in your life-time with as much peace of mind as possible.

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Holding your breath until you get what you want might work a few times when you’re a child but not at all when you’re an adult with responsibilities like paying your bills and maintaining healthy relationships with others. With that said, at one point or another, you are going to have to come up for air to help clear your mind and replenish the oxygen in your lungs. Similar to pre-flight instructions, if there’s a problem in the air, you have to put your oxygen mask on first.

Conclusion

In conclusion, no matter how cool, calm, and collected you may appear to be at one point or another in your life, you are going to experience stress in one form or another. Too much stress can ultimately lead to a variety of debilitating symptoms of anxiety, which in turn, negatively impacts your quality of life.

Now, more than ever, as we all learn how to adapt to our post-pandemic new-normal world, many of us are experiencing symptoms of anxiety no matter how hard we try to manage the level of stress in our lives. By learning how to effectively cope with anxiety, we can ultimately break right on through it so that we can live an even more productive and fulfilling life.

Nevertheless, perhaps the most common-sense strategy to reduce experiencing symptoms of anxiety is to avoid putting yourself in highly stressful situations in the first place if possible.

Read These If You’re Feeling Anxious for No Reason

Featured photo credit: Tiago Bandeira via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] Teaching History: The Only Thing We Have to Fear Is Fear Itself
[2] Mayo Clinic: Anxiety Disorders
[3] Mental Health Foundation: Talking therapies

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Evan Jarschauer

Professional Mental Health Interventionist & Licensed Psychotherapist

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Published on August 23, 2021

Why Am I Depressed If My Life Is Fine?

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Why Am I Depressed If My Life Is Fine?

If you suffer from depression or suddenly experience bouts of sadness that seem to come out of nowhere, you probably wonder why this is happening. The truth is that there are several possibilities, and you aren’t alone. According to the World Health Organization, in January of 2020, more than 264 million people were diagnosed with depression and is the leading cause of disability worldwide.[1] In this article, I will answer the question: why am I depressed if my life is fine?” I will discuss what depression is and what the possible causes of depression are. Additionally, I will offer some solutions to consider as you navigate the depression you are experiencing.

The question of why you are depressed if your life is fine is one that I can personally identify with, as I can remember a time when I went through an intense depression even though, in many ways, my life couldn’t have been much better. I was financially secure, had a good family, lived in a beautiful place, had a pretty adventurous and exciting life, but none of that could have prevented a serious and prolonged battle with depression.

Given that you are here reading this article now, you will hopefully be able to identify the problem early and get the support you need to fend off any significant depressive episodes, as this can make a huge difference in your battle with depression.

Furthermore, you don’t have to live with depression! Despite the debilitating effects of depression, with the right treatment and support, it is also one of the more “curable” mental health disorders and you can overcome it.

What Is Depression?

Depression is a mood disorder characterized by feelings of sadness, guilt, worthlessness, hopelessness, irritability, and in the worst cases, despair and suicidality.

Depression from a clinical perspective is classified into a few distinctive categories, two of the more common categories are; major depression and dysthymia. According to the DSM 5, Diagnostic and Statistical Manual—which governs the diagnosis of psychiatric and mental health disorders—major depression is classified as experiencing five or more symptoms in the same two-week period and must include a loss in pleasure as well as a depressed mood most of the day, nearly every day.[2]

The criteria are:

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  • Loss of pleasure or joy
  • Intense feelings of sadness and depressed mood most of the day, almost every day
  • Difficulty sleeping or disturbed sleep
  • Change in appetite (increased or decreased appetite) and a 5% change in body weight
  • Difficulty focusing, poor concentration
  • Psychomotor agitation or slowing down
  • Excessive fatigue
  • Feelings of worthlessness or guilt
  • Persistent thoughts of death, dying, and suicide

Dysthymia is an ongoing or persistent depressed mood for a period of two years where you feel sadness more days than not. It will include at least two of the following symptoms when depressed:

  • Poor appetite or overeating
  • Insomnia or hypersomnia (having more sleep than usual)
  • Low energy or fatigue
  • Low self-esteem
  • Poor concentration
  • Feeling of hopelessness

The above symptoms of dysthymia can coincide with the symptoms of major depression.

Causes of Depression

Depression happens for several reasons that I categorize into three: biology, environment, and situation. Depression also tends to occur in more sensitive people, tend to overthink, and get stuck in their thoughts, which—more times than not—are negative.

Biological causes of depression are related to how your body produces neurotransmitters that impact your moods, such as serotonin, norepinephrine, and dopamine. Some people might have a biological predisposition for depression and never experience any significant symptoms but when confronted with a challenging life situation, such as a loss or disappointment, it can send them into a tailspin of despondency and intense feelings of low and sad mood.

Depression caused by one’s environment is more about those you might have grown up with, your family, and your home environment, which could also be connected to heredity. Regardless of your biological predisposition, you learn how to handle challenges in life by observing those around you.

Adults, in particular, are role models for children and will likely deal with life in similar ways as to what they observed. For example, a child who grows up witnessing partner abuse between their parents is at increased risk of either being a victim or perpetrator of violence in an intimate relationship as an adult.[3]

Situational depression, as I mentioned above, can be seen as more of a cause-and-effect relationship. When you are confronted with a particular life challenge or change, such as job loss, geographic relocation, or family and financial stress, these situations can cause you to fall into a temporary or prolonged depression.

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In some cases, depression can be a combination of all of the above.

Examples of Causes of Depression

Below are some examples of situations that might lead you to experience a prolonged period of depression.

Grief

The loss of a loved one, especially when sudden and traumatic, can bring about intense feelings of loss and sadness, which can lead to clinical depression. This includes the death of pets.

Medical Issue or Diagnosis

Being diagnosed with a medical issue, especially if chronic and progressive, is much like any other loss you might experience. It represents the loss of a life you had. Very often, there will need to be changes made in one’s life that will not allow for a lifestyle previously enjoyed.

A Feeling of Failure or Perceived Shortcomings

As I mentioned, people who experience depression tend to be sensitive and self-critical. You might be struggling with not getting a job promotion or failing to progress in the way you imagined for yourself, but this doesn’t mean that you are not progressing in some other way.

Sudden Life Change

Changes—even good changes and welcomed changes—are hard. Sometimes, these changes can have an impact on your role and status in society like marriage or parenthood, which are both wonderful changes yet fraught with many challenges and new social roles.

Feeling Trapped or With Limited Options

Having options is both a blessing and a curse. We know that the more options we have, the less happy we are and the more anxious we might tend to feel, wanting and needing to make the right decision. However, on the flip side, the idea that you don’t have any options can also lead to feeling trapped and feeling that your life circumstances are already written in stone.

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Burnout

Job stress, being overworked and underpaid, or the lack of fulfillment in your profession can lead to depression, which might also coincide with the feeling of being trapped and feeling as though you don’t have many options in your life and career.

What Can You Do If You Experience Depression?

It may sometimes feel as though, out of nowhere, that you are hit with depression, and this is true for many people who have a biologically based depression. However, I would argue that whenever there is something like depression or anxiety—which are defense mechanisms—there is something in your life that is not 100% congruent with who you are and where your life is at or going.

This essentially means that it’s time to take a step back and reassess a few things in life. It doesn’t mean that you will be able to wright the ship entirely. However, you might be able to make some small changes that will help you feel more in control of your life and the direction that you are going in.

1. Consider Therapy

Therapy will help you take stock and think about what is happening in your life and where you might be able to make some changes. Needless to say, you will also have the support you need to embark on making those changes. It could also be a chance to identify what it is in your life that is causing the depression. A therapist can also help you connect to other supports that might help you as you work through this period in your life.

2. Group Support Network

Processing hurt and pain through the group experience is a powerful method of connecting with yourself and others who might be experiencing similar challenges. Part of the value of group experience is knowing that you are not alone and that you have support not just from professionals but also from other people just like you.

3. Self Assessment

Self-assessment involves assessing where you are in your life in relation to your life goals, your relationships, and the direction that you are headed. Maybe it is time to make a pivot and change course, which could be a very scary thing. Bringing this kind of information to therapy will be very valuable and will assist you in the therapeutic process.

4. Take Some Time Off

Taking some time off will be and can be helpful in many ways. If you are experiencing burnout, this will give you more time for self-care and help you give yourself a break. Moreover, taking a time off gives you more time to do some of the things I described above in therapy, group work, and self-assessment.

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5. Are You Bored?

Sometimes, when we lack stimulation or work in a job for which we are overqualified, we might find ourselves feeling underutilized and as if we are not meeting our potential. This would, hopefully, come out in a self-assessment and could indicate the need to make a change in your work life.

Depression and Suicide

Depression is a serious mental health disorder. Thirty to seventy percent of deaths by suicide are attributed to major depression or bipolar disorder.[4] If you or someone you love is experiencing depression and expresses thoughts or statements about death and suicide, consult with your medical professional or mental health counselor. People who receive treatment for depression have an 80 to 90% rate of success from therapy and/or medication.

Suffice to say, if you get the treatment you need for depression, your chances of recovering skyrocket. Again, as I mentioned earlier, you don’t have to live with depression. Get the right treatment,[5] and you can have a whole new lease on life.

Final Thoughts

Depression is a mood disorder that is characterized by feelings of sadness for a long period of time. Many people throughout their lives will experience some depression in varying degrees. If you notice that what you are experiencing resembles any of what I have described above, please know that you can make changes and you can live a life free of depression. Getting help, support, and treatment is essential to addressing the depression or changes in your life that might need to be considered.

More Tips on Coping With Depression

Featured photo credit: Paola Chaaya via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] The World Health Organization: Depression
[2] NCBI: The DSM-5: Classification and Criteria Changes
[3] OASH: Office on women’s Health: Effects of domestic violence on children
[4] Mental Health America: Suicide
[5] Upside Down Flan: The Best Treatment for Depression

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