Anxiety and Depression – what triggers these disorders and how do you keep them at bay?

There is still a huge stigma attached to mental health disorders. One in four of us will suffer from anxiety and/or depression at some point in our lives, yet many people don’t understand the symptoms of these illnesses or what causes them and many people simply turn a blind eye. If you haven’t suffered from anxiety and depression yourself, you are bound to know at least one person who has.

Anxiety and Depression (A&D) can overwhelm you and both of these illnesses can affect absolutely anyone and at any time. They can be triggered in many ways. If you have suffered from either of these illnesses, you will probably not have recognised the initial signs and were scared about what was happening to you.

Anxiety and depression usually go hand in hand and if you have one of these mental health disorders, it is highly likely you will also have the other at some point.

Most people are too embarrassed to talk about A&D, especially men, as we don’t like going to see the doctor. Opening up about A&D can be very difficult and it takes real bravery to do so, but the worst thing you can do is to become introverted and think to yourself that your A&D will just disappear. Even recognising the signs of A&D can be hard if you have symptoms for the first time. If you feel you have A&D, you need to make an appointment with your GP as soon as possible and talk to them about your issues.

I have suffered from A&D myself in the past and I am not ashamed or embarrassed to admit this. When I first had a panic attack many years ago I thought I was having a heart attack and I’ve never been as scared as I was then. I sought help at the time and I did my own research too. Over time, you get to know what the triggers are for your A&D. This is really important, as it will enable you to manage your A&D better and keep both illnesses at bay.

Anxiety and depression can lead to many problems and they tend to cause a chain reaction. It’s quite common that you don’t feel good about yourself and you might need reassurance from people, as you often lose any confidence you had. A&D usually leads to nervousness as well as loneliness. Bad hygiene can be another result of suffering from A&D. Due to not feeling good about yourself, you might not feel like washing, or you might not have the energy to do this.

You might feel tired most of the time as A&D can affect your sleep pattern. It can lead to lots of thoughts and worries swirling around your head and you will over-think too much. You may suffer from hair loss. Maybe you put on weight as you don’t have the energy or willingness to exercise or socialise with people and you might start comfort-eating. Even a short walk to the shops can feel like a real chore when suffering from the pain of A&D. Your once-satisfying sex life may take a hit as well, as A&D can affect your libido and you can’t enjoy physical intimacy. Your emotions can feel out of your control and you sometimes say things or do things that you later regret. A&D can affect your family life, social life and work life and these two illnesses can turn you into a completely different person as it can lead to you avoiding people and becoming more of a recluse.

It’s natural to feel embarrassed sometimes, but you need to know that there is no shame in struggling with A&D.

A&D does not discriminate and does not care about a person’s shape, size, weight, height, age, colour, wealth, fame, sex, or religion. It can strike at any time and can affect absolutely anyone, including people who have always thought of themselves as being mentally tough.

The ex-wrestler turned actor, The Rock, has recently opened up about his problems and battles with A&D, so even though he’s a big tough guy physically and is the highest paid actor in Hollywood, no amount of fame, wealth or physical strength can protect you against A&D.

Triggers of A&D:

We’re living in a fast-paced society where everyone is constantly on the move. Recent advances in technology have put many added pressures on us all. People want things immediately and are more demanding than ever. There is more choice out there for everything and it’s easy for people to shy away from everyday pressures and become lonely. Whilst it’s good to relax at times, it’s also important to talk to people and have routine in your life, as loneliness is a big trigger of anxiety and depression. Don’t suffer in silence!

A&D can also lead to people drinking alcohol, not sleeping properly and not doing any exercise. If you can talk to people often, socialise and have fun, not drink too much alcohol, drink plenty of water, get plenty of sleep and rest, plus, you can exercise regularly, these will all help prevent against you becoming anxious and/or depressed and will help you keep it under control.

1) Loneliness – If possible, surround yourself with good people and around those people who can make you smile and laugh. Smiling, laughing and just being around people really does help.

2) Alcohol – This is a friend of A&D so be very wary. Most people with A&D look for a release and for an escape from normality when trying to deal with a tragedy or a trauma in their lives. Alcohol is not the answer and will make it worse. Alcohol can actually increase anxiety and stress levels, rather than reduce them. Alcohol also dehydrates you and hydration is so important in combating A&D. Becoming dry or dehydrated can occur when you’re in confined spaces, such as being on an underground tube train or on an aeroplane. You might get anxious even when driving, so try to avoid long journeys if possible, where you can become tired and therefore more anxious.

3) Another trigger is not having enough sleep and rest. If you’re tired or sleepy, it will make you more anxious and depressed. I do understand though that it’s not always easy to sleep, as those who suffer with A&D have very active minds and they find it hard to relax and switch off. One tip is to have a hot shower to relax and unwind just before you go to bed. Drink a glass of water too.

How to help combat A&D:

Anxiety and depression are generally controlled through medication, but counselling and therapies, such as CBT (Cognitive Behavioural Therapy) are also available.

1) Talking to people – Talking to someone about your problems really does help. If not partaking in CBT or counselling sessions, then try to confide in a good friend, colleague, or a family member, with whom you can talk to about your problems. As the late actor, Bob Hoskins once said, “It’s good to talk”.

2) Exercise – An often neglected intervention when dealing with mental health is exercise. Exercise is an amazing way to help battle anxiety and depression.

Mental health and physical health have been treated separately in the past, yet evidence has shown there is a link between physical activity and positive mental health.

Exercise can greatly benefit those suffering with poor mental health. It can also protect people from developing depression and/or anxiety through chemical changes in the brain which positively alter mood. When you exercise, your body releases chemicals called endorphins. These endorphins interact with the receptors in your brain that reduce your perception of pain and endorphins also trigger a positive feeling in the body.

It is very daunting to visualise yourself doing any physical exercise if you don’t do it often (if at all). If this is the case, you need to build it up slowly. Begin by walking for a short distance at first and gradually increase the distance that you walk and the length of time that you walk for, until you can walk for an hour. You can then begin to jog or run. It’s good to remember that even a 15 minute walk can help you relax and clear your mind, as any exercise is better than none at all.

Being involved in sport, particularly a team sport, means you will mix and socialise with other people, so on top of the release of endorphins, you are also attacking A&D by socialising and talking to other people.

3) Antidepressants – A&D affects around 350 million people worldwide and cases rose almost 20% from 2005-2015. To give you an idea on how big a problem A&D is becoming, John Geddes, a professor of epidemiological psychiatry at Oxford University, advised: “Depression is the single largest contributor to global disability that we have – a massive challenge for humankind’’.

“Antidepressants are an effective tool for depression. Untreated depression is a huge problem because of the burden to society,” said Andrea Cipriani of the NIHR Oxford Health Biomedical Research Centre, who led a recent study on antidepressants.

It was a six-year study, which was carried out by a team of international experts and was published in the Lancet. The most famous antidepressant of them all, Prozac (now out of patent and known by its generic name, fluoxetine), was one of the least effective but best tolerated antidepressants, as there were fewer side-effects reported. The most effective antidepressant was Almitriptyline, which was the sixth best tolerated.

However, the first antidepressant that your GP prescribes you with may not work for you, so if you feel worse after a few days, you should go back to you GP immediately and tell them. They may ask you to try something different, or it may be that your dosage needs to lowered, as it may be too high.

Conclusion:

If you know of anyone suffering from A&D, or if you haven’t heard from a friend or family member in a long time, pick up the phone and speak to them, knock on their door, or at least send them a message to see how they are. You sometimes won’t know if a person is suffering from A&D, as most people don’t talk about it, or they won’t admit to having it, due to the shame and stigma that both A&D still carry. I repeat again that you should feel NO shame or embarrassment at all, but loneliness is the terrible cruel curse of A&D, so if people know that someone cares about them and that they can talk to someone about their problems, it will generate positivity and they will feel that their life is meaningful. Doing this really will help anyone suffering from these terrible illnesses. Be there for someone with A&D. I hope my post has gone some way to help raise awareness.

Here is a useful link to the NHS website which provides further help and advice on dealing with depression:

https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/stress-anxiety-depression/dealing-with-depression/

You can also contact helplines, such as Samaritans on 116 123, for 24-hour confidential, non-judgemental emotional support. They offer a safe place for you to talk and any time you like, in your own way – about whatever’s getting to you. You don’t have to be suicidal. You can also contact them at:

https://www.samaritans.org/

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How many couples tie the knot with someone they have met online?

The stigma that was once attached to Online Dating has well and truly disappeared, with around one in four of us now finding love online.

The rapid advances in technology over the past few years and the ever-increasing popularity of the online dating industry mean it’s easier and quicker than ever before for us to meet new people. We can do this at the click of a button or by swiping right on someone’s profile using our smartphone.

Online dating is also now the most popular way that spouses-to-be meet. As time goes by and more happy couples decide to the tie the knot, the percentage of married couples who meet by swiping right on their smartphone is likely to increase significantly. Sociological scientists have seen a trend of heterosexual couples who meet online and pop the question quickly. One study has concluded that couples who meet online tend to get hitched much sooner than couples who meet offline.

Dating apps have fast tracked marriages, as people meeting online know they are meeting someone who wants the same thing. When two compatible people meet and have lots in common, there is no reason for things to go slowly.

According to ‘The Knot’, the leading online wedding brand, in 2017, 19% of brides in the US (1 in 5) reported meeting their significant other online.

17% of those married met through online dating and 2% met through social media outlets. This was a total increase of 3%, up from 14% in 2015 (for those who met through online dating).

Other popular ways that couples met include through friends (17%), college (15%) and work (12%).

This rise in digital dependence continues through each step of the wedding planning journey, where 9 in 10 couples used mobile devices for wedding planning activities in 2016.

The statistics are based on The Knot’s recently released results of ‘’The Knot 2017 Jewellery & Engagement Study’’. Their biannual comprehensive report, the largest of its kind, surveyed more than 14,000 engaged or recently married brides and grooms from the US to uncover the trends and financial spending habits of proposals in America.

Advice on Coaching Sport to Children

“Its all about winning!”. “Win at all costs!”. “Train all day and night to be the best!”. These are common phrases that you’ll hear a lot in sport, especially in youth team football. They are all wrong.

Sport is in my blood and I’ve played football all my life. I’ve also coached men’s and boy’s football teams over the years.

Often, these phrases are said by fathers who want their kids to play professionally. The fathers want to achieve this goal through the eyes of their kids, as they didn’t make to that level or didn’t play themselves. These fathers are competitive people but they’re looking at the situation in completely the wrong way.

These sayings are all wrong and if coaches and parents believe them, it does not create a nice environment for children to play in. It’s not all about winning and at a young age, kids don’t need too much fitness training. If they train too much, they’ll be burnt out, just as anyone would be. They won’t enjoy playing as much either.

If you’re a parent OR a coach of a child playing any sport, there are three important objectives that you should aim to achieve. You should want your child to:

1) Learn
2) Develop
3) Enjoy

Coaches and parents should never shout from the sideline and certainly not ‘have a go’ at other children playing on the opposition team. This does happen and it’s bang out of order.

It’s often said that “winning isn’t everything” and this is absolutely true and even more so at youth team level.

Your children need to learn to win but also learn how to lose. These are life lessons as well, as they won’t always get what they want in life and they will suffer enjoyment and fulfilment in life, as well as disappointment.

Parents often confuse kids by shouting and they put kids under pressure by getting on their backs. Your child should be enjoying themselves, even if their team are losing.

If your child has won their match, encourage them to shake the opposition team’s hands and say “well played”. Even if your child loses a match, still encourage them to do exactly the same.

As a coach (and a parent), you’re also a teacher and the children you coach will naturally look up to you and follow your lead. You have an important responsibility to say the right things and act in the right manner. You should want your children to improve not just as a footballer, but also as a person. You are teaching them about discipline and combining that with making sure your child is smiling and having fun. How will they learn about discipline if their coach or their

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father is shouting and swearing on the sideline?!

The best example of this is a top American football player whose son was playing for a local youth team. He would watch his son play but would stand silently on the sidelines and not cheer, shout, or give instructions. When the kid asked his dad for his feedback at the end of the game, the dad said that as long as he listened to his coach, followed his instructions, enjoyed what he was doing and was happy, that was all that mattered and he was happy.

Don’t get me wrong, I believe there is huge value in teaching our children to win and it’s always better to win than it is to lose. In fact, it’s that competitive fire and hunger to be the best that helps drives our society forward. However, if you remember the three main objectives, it will create an amazing environment for children to be in and this is the best platform to achieve good results. Just let them play though and don’t put too much pressure on them.

Make sure you encourage your child. If your child is learning, developing, playing with a smile on their face and laughing with their friends, this is the true definition of winning! 😊