Mood and Anxiety

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Mood and anxiety disorders are often misunderstood and shrouded with personal shame and cultural stigma. Sadly, this creates more difficulties for the millions of individuals that are struggling with mood or anxiety disorders, preventing them from accessing the help and care they may need for healing and recovery.

The National Institute of Health has estimated that over 20 million adults in America struggle with a mood disorder, and about 20 percent of the U.S. population is dealing with a mental illness at any given time [1]. Understanding the basics about mood and anxiety disorders and the signs and symptoms related can be helpful in overcoming the stigma associated with these conditions. Aloria integrates the realities and prevalence of mood and anxiety into the structure of its milieu management and group and individual programming. It does this through responding flexibly to the clients present in our care.

Understanding Mood and Anxiety Disorders

Mood disorders are mental illnesses that are characterized by a drastic change in mood, while anxiety disorders are conditions in which fear or anxiety hinders a person’s ability to function within the normal scope of life. There are many overlapping causes and symptoms related to mood and anxiety disorders. Due to similar chemical and situational underpinnings, research has found that individuals with mood disorders may be at greater risk of also developing an anxiety disorder [2]. Anxiety disorders can spark mood disorders, where a person who experiences severe anxiety may be more likely to also suffer from depression.

Signs and symptoms of a mood disorder, such as depression or bipolar, include:

  • Significant changes in appetite and sleep patterns
  • Inability to concentrate or make decisions
  • Feelings of worthlessness, shame, and/or guilt
  • Irritability, agitation
  • Prolonged sadness, feelings of worthlessness
  • Fatigue or low-energy
  • Low self-esteem
  • Feeling helpless and pessimism
  • Unable to complete simple tasks
  • Episodes of mania and depression
  • Mood and demeanor that quickly swings from one extreme to another
  • Personality changes
  • Erratic behaviors

Conditions that can be classified as anxiety disorders include:

  • Panic disorder
  • Generalized anxiety disorder
  • Social anxiety disorder
  • Separation anxiety disorder
  • Phobias
  • Agoraphobia
  • Specific types of phobias

While the specific causes of mood and anxiety disorders are unknown, it is thought that a variety of different factors may contribute to the development of these mental illnesses. This may include a combination of a family history of mental illness, genetic predisposition, environmental and economic conditions, the experience of trauma, psychosocial influences, neurobiology and more. Multiple stressors can combine to increase a person’s susceptibility to having either a mood or anxiety disorder or both. Aloria considers and approaches the contextualization of all clients lives. We have discovered that by being curious about the context of a client and their health we through can provide care to the whole range of experiences our clients are living with.

Signs and Symptoms of Mood and Anxiety Disorders

Mood and anxiety disorders are characterized by several signs and symptoms that may indicate that a person is suffering and needs increased assistance.

Anxiety disorders are characterized by the following signs and symptoms, including:

  • Excessive worry or persistent anxiety that interferes with daily life
  • Difficult falling asleep and staying asleep
  • Irrational fears that become disruptive
  • Reliving disturbing or traumatic events
  • Compulsive behaviors
  • Avoidance of social situations
  • Restlessness or uneasiness
  • Physical symptoms, like tense muscles, dizziness, shortness of breath

Connections Between Mood Disorders and Anxiety

Studies have found that severe anxiety, particularly panic attacks, is linked with depression [2]. There may also be a connection between anxiety disorders, such as post-traumatic stress disorder, generalized anxiety disorder, and obsessive-compulsive disorder, with depressive disorders. Because of the complexity of these mental health conditions, the situational context for the individual, and the complications that can arise from overlapping mood and anxiety disorders, Aloria’s comprehensive care can assist in addressing co-occurrence.

Mood Disorders, Anxiety and Eating Disorders

Mood disorders, anxiety disorders, and eating disorders often interplay, with eating disorders being more likely to occur in individuals who are struggling with a mood disorder, anxiety disorder, or both. Similarly, mood and anxiety disorders are a common comorbidity among people who also have eating disorders.

There may be many root causes that influence the development of eating disorders alongside mood and anxiety disorders. In many situations, a person suffering with a mood or anxiety disorder may develop maladaptive eating behaviors as a means of coping with the pain resulting from their mental illness and situational experiences. Similarly, a person with an eating disorder, including anorexia, bulimia, and binge eating disorder, may experience increased anxiety or depression due to behaviors associated with their eating disorder, such as recurring restricting, binging, or purging or over exercising.

The behaviors associated with mood and anxiety disorders and eating disorders strongly overlap and can become interwoven, further intensifying the complications a person may be suffering with. An eating disorder may become a way to inadvertently cope with the anxiety and depression that is strongly experienced with mental health conditions. Aloria is committed to approaching this potential relationship for those that are suffering and asking for our care.

 

References

[1]: National Institute of Health, “Mood Disorders”, https://report.nih.gov/NIHfactsheets/ViewFactSheet.aspx?csid=48 Retrieved 12 July 12, 2018

[2]: “Learn about the connection between anxiety and mood disorders”, https://www.calmclinic.com/anxiety/mood-disorders Retrieved July 12, 2018