Stress, Anxiety, and Depression is Impacting the Overall Mental & Physical Health of America

The Observation of America’s COVID-Induced Stress Pandemic

Stress, depression, and anxiety are inter-related and can be effectively relieved more naturally with transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS)

Stress Awareness Month takes place every year in November in an effort to increase public awareness about the cause of stress and how to avoid unhealthy stress. Nearly 85 percent of our population reports moderate to severe emotions brought on by prolonged stress since the COVID-19 outbreak. The most common reported symptoms include anxiety, sadness, and anger. Each of these symptoms can lead to a clinical depressive and/or anxiety disorder.

The Truth About Stress Today

Millions of people all the across globe are suffering from high levels of prolonged stress, anxiety, depression and worry. Undue stress is damaging to one’s personal health, and the health of the world we live in. Stress is a serious public health concern and challenge. Unfortunately, it is not taken as seriously as a physical health concern.

Stress is a significant factor in mental health problems, such as depression and anxiety. It is also linked to a number of physical health problems, including heart disease, compromised immune system, gastrointestinal problems, insomnia, and can increase the risk of hypertension, heart attack, and stroke. It is important to understand how to manage stress and learn what steps to take to reduce the stress we feel, especially if prolonged for greater than a couple weeks.

Historically stress was good for us. It sparked an adrenaline boost needed to fuel our ‘fight or flight’ response that actually kept us safe when danger was felt to be nearby. Of course, it continues to serve this purpose, especially in the presence of an accident, emergency, or other situation where we need to act fast and take action. However, the physical stress the majority of us feel due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic is a result of feelings of threat that are unrelieved for a long period of time. So, the ‘fight or flight’ is not much use when dealing with this type of threat.

People don’t realize they are suffering from prolonged undue stress. For many, it leads to ongoing symptoms of depression and anxiety that progress into clinical manifestations of these conditions. Sadly, the majority of people suffering from depression and anxiety do not seek help. Thus, their overall mental and physical health continue declines.

Symptoms of unhealthy stress, anxiety, and depression

The most important thing you can do for yourself is to recognize the symptoms of stress, depression, and anxiety and take action. Many people ignore the symptoms assuming they will eventually go away. Once left uncontrolled and untreated, these types of symptoms tend to get worse instead of better.

If you are experiencing 3 or more of the following symptoms for more than two weeks, it is time to seek an evaluation or screening by a licensed professional.

  • Chest heaviness, increased heart rate
  • Shoulder, neck or back pain
  • Headaches
  • Teeth grinding or clinching, jaw soreness
  • Shortness of breath
  • Feeling tired, fatigued, anxious, or sad
  • Losing or gaining weight
  • Sleeping problems
  • Gastrointestinal problems
  • Sexual difficulties
  • More emotional than usual
  • Feeling overwhelmed or on edge
  • Increase in irritability
  • Trouble making decisions or keeping track of things
  • Foggy thoughts or problems with memory
  • Feelings of anxiousness, worry, or fear
  • Using alcohol or drugs to self-medicate or soothe emotions

Effective coping strategies

Learning to cope effectively is the first step in managing your stress and preventing depression and anxiety. There are many things that you can do to help alleviate the emotional and physical symptoms brought on by prolonged stress. Below is a list of suggestions to try.

1. Practice mindfulness: Mindfulness is fancy word for learning how to focus your mind and attention on your thoughts and actions so that you become aware. The purpose is to become aware of the changes in your body that occur in response to changing emotions. Understanding the mind-body connection is key in learning to cope more effectively with your stress and emotions.

The goal of mindfulness is to focus on bringing your mind and body in balance to seek a place of calmness. Figuring out what you need to bring about this balance in any given moment helps to eliminate triggers and can ultimately help you to overcome negative thoughts, behaviors, and emotions.

2. Distraction: Learning to distract your mind and re-focus can be another way to overcome stress and anxiety. When you sit and worry, ponder, and focus on something that brings about worsening feelings and emotions, it can lead to higher levels of stress, anxiety, and depression. Don’t do this. Try to engage in mindful activities that keep you distracted from triggers of stress, and unhealthy thoughts and behaviors.

Distraction activities may include things like, reading, gardening, exercise, spending time with family and friends, engaging in a hobby, taking a walk, or having a movie night with significant other or family.

3. Journaling: While this may not sound like your cup of tea, it can actually be an effective way to rid your mind of all the ‘bad stuff’. Take a half hour and write down your thoughts and feelings using one to two words. Believe it or not, this technique can help you to better understand your thoughts more clearly. It encourages your brain to slow down, pay attention, and think more clearly about what’s going on in your life.

Journaling can actually help you to understand your innermost feelings, as you would be amazed at what might come out on paper. The goal is to identify those things that trigger your ill emotions and feelings. Further, you want to identify positive thoughts and behaviors to replace all the negative. Journaling is a healthy and positive way to fight all those negative emotions that lead to suffering. By confronting your emotions head-on, healing and change begins to ensue.

4 Meditation: Meditation can be quite effective when done correctly. The goal is to redirect your thoughts, even those that lie subconsciously and have an impact on your emotions and behaviors. To learn more about affective meditation techniques, click here.

When help is need for stress, anxiety and depression

Understanding when you need to seek professional help is critical. The first thing you should never do is ignore the symptoms or assume ‘things will get better’. When you’ve tried various self-help strategies and your symptoms continue to disrupt your quality of life, then it’s time to seek help.

Medications can certainly help some people but should not be taken long-term. Therapy is another alternative but is often not effective for some people. However, many people prefer not to take medications or engage in therapy.  Transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS therapy) is an effective treatment option for those suffering from anxiety and depression.

TMS is an FDA-approved treatment that is safe, effective, and doesn’t cause all the undesired side effects that are often experienced with medication. Further, TMS is covered by the majority of health insurance companies, including Medicare and Tricare for the treatment of depression. The treatment is performed outpatient and doesn’t require any sedation or downtime.

TMS is the most advanced form of treatment for patients suffering from stress, anxiety, and depression. To find a TMS therapy provider or clinic near you, click here.

Don’t let your feelings of stress, anxiety, or depression be the norm for your life. You are not expected to deal whatever lands on your shoulders and getting help does not mean you are weak. Whether you or male or female, the smartest decision you can make for yourself is to get the help you need and deserve. The fact is stress is no less of a problem than any other mental or physical health problem. Why? Because when left untreated and unmanaged, it can lead to serious physical and mental health problems.

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