How Anxiety Impacts The Way We Perceive And Think

See Psychology Today Article Here
By Lobsang Rapgay Ph.D.

How we see, hear, and think about what we experience within and outside ourselves determines who we are and how we relate to the world.  Disorders such as anxiety not only interfere with but also impair these processes, creating a distorted view of our internal and external worlds.

According to many researchers, working memory is the most important of the perceptual and cognitive functions.  Our ability to learn new skills—from driving and golfing to mathematics and meditation—to master attentional skills, meet goals, plan a vital activity, and make decisions and choices all rely heavily on an effective and efficient working memory.

Working memory acts as a sketchpad that enables the performance of the above wide-ranging tasks.  Once the relevant set of information for a task is obtained, that information has to be held in memory, organized, manipulated, and updated so that the task can be performed accordingly.  Take the example of the complex reading span test, which is a test used to measure the size of the working memory space.  Subjects see a set of words depending on how many they can recall correctly.  After each word, a statement is presented for the subject to determine if it is true or false.  The task requires the subject to manipulate, encode, and hold the words in memory while carrying out the competing task of reading the sentence and determining whether it is true or false (Daneman & Carpenter, 1980).

Many complex cognitive processes, such as attention, inhibition of distractors, shifting from one sub-task to another, strategic online monitoring of performance, instant detection of errors and their correction, and the updating of ongoing information are necessary for the effective and efficient completion of working memory tasks.

Increasing evidence shows that anxiety hurts both working memory space and cognitive processes to varying degrees, and adverse effects occur.  Studies have conclusively shown that people with anxiety automatically perceive threats over other stimuli at the expense of crucial ongoing tasks (Bar-Haim et al., 2007).  A person with severe anxiety is also likely to have difficulty separating himself or herself from frightening images and words, preventing him or her from returning to perform the task (Grant et al., 2015).

The instant perceptual bias towards threats in anxiety persists into subsequent cognitive processes.  The bias affects both the amount of verbal and visual-spatial information that working memory can hold, as well as the cognitive processing of the relevant information.  When subjects were tested to determine how many digits they could hold in memory in a complex working memory capacity test, subjects with high anxiety held much fewer digits compared to those with low anxiety (Diamond, 2013).  The capacity to hold verbal information was also a lot less with high anxiety subjects who were made to worry, as compared to those who were not. (Leigh & Hirsch, 2011).  However, numerous studies show that the amount of information held in working memory during the performance of a task determines the degree of impairment caused by anxiety.  When the amount of information held in memory is low to medium, anxiety impairs working memory capacity significantly because the cognitive processes that are not required for carrying out the task are available for processing threat distractors.  However, when the load is high, anxiety impairs the capacity of working memory much less since all of the resources are consumed by processing the high load of information, and little to no working memory is available to attend to the distracting threats (Derakshan, N., et.al., 2009).

Robust evidence shows that anxiety impairs each of the specific cognitive processes responsible for carrying out the multicomponent tasks of working memory.  Studies show that people with elevated anxiety are not able to inhibit threatening distractors as compared to neutral stimuli during a cognitive function.  They fail to disengage from the threat and return to the task (Grant et al., 2015).  Other studies show that people with elevated anxiety fail or take a long time to shift from one cognitive set to another during the performance of a working memory task (Ansari & Derakshan, 2011).  Given that working memory tasks consist of multicomponent sets of a task, the ability to readily move from one to another is critical for the correct and rapid performance of the task.

Impairment of attention, inhibition, and shifting interferes with the functions of monitoring and updating.  Constant updating of sub-tasks during the performance of any learning and goal-oriented task prevents awareness of errors (Folstein & Petten, 2008).  Strategic online monitoring of performance at each of the various sub-stages of a task aims to identify the mistakes early on so they can be corrected instantly.  Undetected errors compromise the performance of the subsequent tasks.  Instant detection and correction of errors help to conserve and distribute the limited cognitive resources and their allocation to subsequent sub-tasks.  Studies show that people with clinical anxiety tend to have elevated error-related negativity (ERN), a specific evoked response potential (ERP)—a method used to aggregate brain activity in a particular region of the brain—that measures error and its correction (Gehring et al., 1993).

Updating is a process of continuously adding new relevant information to existing ones according to the demands of the sub-task or when unforeseen situations occur during the ongoing performance of a task.  During this process, the data undergoes multiple transformations and substitutions.  The ability to update effectively has been shown to be a significant predictor of higher mental skills, such as fluid intelligence.

Based on these findings, researchers have developed two major treatment protocols, namely attentional bias modification (ABM) and cognitive bias modification (CBM) (Amir et al., 2009), (Macleod et al., 2012).  These protocols involve the manipulation of attention away from threatening stimuli to the neutral.  Studies show that both protocols demonstrate small to moderate effects.  However, they also appear to be less effective than existing empirically proven treatments for anxiety.  Moreover, researchers have raised questions about whether training an individual to move away from a threatening stimulus increases avoidance behavior, which has been shown to increase anxiety in the long run.

Researchers have suggested that since attentional bias to threat is sustained for long periods, replacing the brief 500-millisecond presentations, used in ABM and CBM to move attention away from the threat, with more extended periods of presentations is likely to produce more effective results.  However, anxiety disorders are complex and often have roots in stressful and conflictual early childhood environmental and developmental conditions.  Without addressing these factors, it seems unlikely that prolonging the period of presentation and moving attention away from the threat, even though helpful, will resolve the underlying causes of anxiety.

Lobsang Rapgay Ph.D.

How we see, hear, and think about what we experience within and outside ourselves determines who we are and how we relate to the world.  Disorders such as anxiety not only interfere with but also impair these processes, creating a distorted view of our internal and external worlds.

According to many researchers, working memory is the most important of the perceptual and cognitive functions.  Our ability to learn new skills—from driving and golfing to mathematics and meditation—to master attentional skills, meet goals, plan a vital activity, and make decisions and choices all rely heavily on an effective and efficient working memory.

Working memory acts as a sketchpad that enables the performance of the above wide-ranging tasks.  Once the relevant set of information for a task is obtained, that information has to be held in memory, organized, manipulated, and updated so that the task can be performed accordingly.  Take the example of the complex reading span test, which is a test used to measure the size of the working memory space.  Subjects see a set of words depending on how many they can recall correctly.  After each word, a statement is presented for the subject to determine if it is true or false.  The task requires the subject to manipulate, encode, and hold the words in memory while carrying out the competing task of reading the sentence and determining whether it is true or false (Daneman & Carpenter, 1980).

Many complex cognitive processes, such as attention, inhibition of distractors, shifting from one sub-task to another, strategic online monitoring of performance, instant detection of errors and their correction, and the updating of ongoing information are necessary for the effective and efficient completion of working memory tasks.

Increasing evidence shows that anxiety hurts both working memory space and cognitive processes to varying degrees, and adverse effects occur.  Studies have conclusively shown that people with anxiety automatically perceive threats over other stimuli at the expense of crucial ongoing tasks (Bar-Haim et al., 2007).  A person with severe anxiety is also likely to have difficulty separating himself or herself from frightening images and words, preventing him or her from returning to perform the task (Grant et al., 2015).

The instant perceptual bias towards threats in anxiety persists into subsequent cognitive processes.  The bias affects both the amount of verbal and visual-spatial information that working memory can hold, as well as the cognitive processing of the relevant information.  When subjects were tested to determine how many digits they could hold in memory in a complex working memory capacity test, subjects with high anxiety held much fewer digits compared to those with low anxiety (Diamond, 2013).  The capacity to hold verbal information was also a lot less with high anxiety subjects who were made to worry, as compared to those who were not. (Leigh & Hirsch, 2011).  However, numerous studies show that the amount of information held in working memory during the performance of a task determines the degree of impairment caused by anxiety.  When the amount of information held in memory is low to medium, anxiety impairs working memory capacity significantly because the cognitive processes that are not required for carrying out the task are available for processing threat distractors.  However, when the load is high, anxiety impairs the capacity of working memory much less since all of the resources are consumed by processing the high load of information, and little to no working memory is available to attend to the distracting threats (Derakshan, N., et.al., 2009).

Robust evidence shows that anxiety impairs each of the specific cognitive processes responsible for carrying out the multicomponent tasks of working memory.  Studies show that people with elevated anxiety are not able to inhibit threatening distractors as compared to neutral stimuli during a cognitive function.  They fail to disengage from the threat and return to the task (Grant et al., 2015).  Other studies show that people with elevated anxiety fail or take a long time to shift from one cognitive set to another during the performance of a working memory task (Ansari & Derakshan, 2011).  Given that working memory tasks consist of multicomponent sets of a task, the ability to readily move from one to another is critical for the correct and rapid performance of the task.

Impairment of attention, inhibition, and shifting interferes with the functions of monitoring and updating.  Constant updating of sub-tasks during the performance of any learning and goal-oriented task prevents awareness of errors (Folstein & Petten, 2008).  Strategic online monitoring of performance at each of the various sub-stages of a task aims to identify the mistakes early on so they can be corrected instantly.  Undetected errors compromise the performance of the subsequent tasks.  Instant detection and correction of errors help to conserve and distribute the limited cognitive resources and their allocation to subsequent sub-tasks.  Studies show that people with clinical anxiety tend to have elevated error-related negativity (ERN), a specific evoked response potential (ERP)—a method used to aggregate brain activity in a particular region of the brain—that measures error and its correction (Gehring et al., 1993).

Updating is a process of continuously adding new relevant information to existing ones according to the demands of the sub-task or when unforeseen situations occur during the ongoing performance of a task.  During this process, the data undergoes multiple transformations and substitutions.  The ability to update effectively has been shown to be a significant predictor of higher mental skills, such as fluid intelligence.

Based on these findings, researchers have developed two major treatment protocols, namely attentional bias modification (ABM) and cognitive bias modification (CBM) (Amir et al., 2009), (Macleod et al., 2012).  These protocols involve the manipulation of attention away from threatening stimuli to the neutral.  Studies show that both protocols demonstrate small to moderate effects.  However, they also appear to be less effective than existing empirically proven treatments for anxiety.  Moreover, researchers have raised questions about whether training an individual to move away from a threatening stimulus increases avoidance behavior, which has been shown to increase anxiety in the long run.

Researchers have suggested that since attentional bias to threat is sustained for long periods, replacing the brief 500-millisecond presentations, used in ABM and CBM to move attention away from the threat, with more extended periods of presentations is likely to produce more effective results.  However, anxiety disorders are complex and often have roots in stressful and conflictual early childhood environmental and developmental conditions.  Without addressing these factors, it seems unlikely that prolonging the period of presentation and moving attention away from the threat, even though helpful, will resolve the underlying causes of anxiety.

How we see, hear, and think about what we experience within and outside ourselves determines who we are and how we relate to the world.  Disorders such as anxiety not only interfere with but also impair these processes, creating a distorted view of our internal and external worlds.

According to many researchers, working memory is the most important of the perceptual and cognitive functions.  Our ability to learn new skills—from driving and golfing to mathematics and meditation—to master attentional skills, meet goals, plan a vital activity, and make decisions and choices all rely heavily on an effective and efficient working memory.

Working memory acts as a sketchpad that enables the performance of the above wide-ranging tasks.  Once the relevant set of information for a task is obtained, that information has to be held in memory, organized, manipulated, and updated so that the task can be performed accordingly.  Take the example of the complex reading span test, which is a test used to measure the size of the working memory space.  Subjects see a set of words depending on how many they can recall correctly.  After each word, a statement is presented for the subject to determine if it is true or false.  The task requires the subject to manipulate, encode, and hold the words in memory while carrying out the competing task of reading the sentence and determining whether it is true or false (Daneman & Carpenter, 1980).

Many complex cognitive processes, such as attention, inhibition of distractors, shifting from one sub-task to another, strategic online monitoring of performance, instant detection of errors and their correction, and the updating of ongoing information are necessary for the effective and efficient completion of working memory tasks.

Increasing evidence shows that anxiety hurts both working memory space and cognitive processes to varying degrees, and adverse effects occur.  Studies have conclusively shown that people with anxiety automatically perceive threats over other stimuli at the expense of crucial ongoing tasks (Bar-Haim et al., 2007).  A person with severe anxiety is also likely to have difficulty separating himself or herself from frightening images and words, preventing him or her from returning to perform the task (Grant et al., 2015).

The instant perceptual bias towards threats in anxiety persists into subsequent cognitive processes.  The bias affects both the amount of verbal and visual-spatial information that working memory can hold, as well as the cognitive processing of the relevant information.  When subjects were tested to determine how many digits they could hold in memory in a complex working memory capacity test, subjects with high anxiety held much fewer digits compared to those with low anxiety (Diamond, 2013).  The capacity to hold verbal information was also a lot less with high anxiety subjects who were made to worry, as compared to those who were not. (Leigh & Hirsch, 2011).  However, numerous studies show that the amount of information held in working memory during the performance of a task determines the degree of impairment caused by anxiety.  When the amount of information held in memory is low to medium, anxiety impairs working memory capacity significantly because the cognitive processes that are not required for carrying out the task are available for processing threat distractors.  However, when the load is high, anxiety impairs the capacity of working memory much less since all of the resources are consumed by processing the high load of information, and little to no working memory is available to attend to the distracting threats (Derakshan, N., et.al., 2009).

Robust evidence shows that anxiety impairs each of the specific cognitive processes responsible for carrying out the multicomponent tasks of working memory.  Studies show that people with elevated anxiety are not able to inhibit threatening distractors as compared to neutral stimuli during a cognitive function.  They fail to disengage from the threat and return to the task (Grant et al., 2015).  Other studies show that people with elevated anxiety fail or take a long time to shift from one cognitive set to another during the performance of a working memory task (Ansari & Derakshan, 2011).  Given that working memory tasks consist of multicomponent sets of a task, the ability to readily move from one to another is critical for the correct and rapid performance of the task.

Impairment of attention, inhibition, and shifting interferes with the functions of monitoring and updating.  Constant updating of sub-tasks during the performance of any learning and goal-oriented task prevents awareness of errors (Folstein & Petten, 2008).  Strategic online monitoring of performance at each of the various sub-stages of a task aims to identify the mistakes early on so they can be corrected instantly.  Undetected errors compromise the performance of the subsequent tasks.  Instant detection and correction of errors help to conserve and distribute the limited cognitive resources and their allocation to subsequent sub-tasks.  Studies show that people with clinical anxiety tend to have elevated error-related negativity (ERN), a specific evoked response potential (ERP)—a method used to aggregate brain activity in a particular region of the brain—that measures error and its correction (Gehring et al., 1993).

Updating is a process of continuously adding new relevant information to existing ones according to the demands of the sub-task or when unforeseen situations occur during the ongoing performance of a task.  During this process, the data undergoes multiple transformations and substitutions.  The ability to update effectively has been shown to be a significant predictor of higher mental skills, such as fluid intelligence.

Based on these findings, researchers have developed two major treatment protocols, namely attentional bias modification (ABM) and cognitive bias modification (CBM) (Amir et al., 2009), (Macleod et al., 2012).  These protocols involve the manipulation of attention away from threatening stimuli to the neutral.  Studies show that both protocols demonstrate small to moderate effects.  However, they also appear to be less effective than existing empirically proven treatments for anxiety.  Moreover, researchers have raised questions about whether training an individual to move away from a threatening stimulus increases avoidance behavior, which has been shown to increase anxiety in the long run.

Researchers have suggested that since attentional bias to threat is sustained for long periods, replacing the brief 500-millisecond presentations, used in ABM and CBM to move attention away from the threat, with more extended periods of presentations is likely to produce more effective results.  However, anxiety disorders are complex and often have roots in stressful and conflictual early childhood environmental and developmental conditions.  Without addressing these factors, it seems unlikely that prolonging the period of presentation and moving attention away from the threat, even though helpful, will resolve the underlying causes of anxiety.

Who The Hell Am I & Why Bother Reading My Posts?

HEYLO… call me Mina, or Amelia. Here is a picture of a baby alpaca I just got, that is made from REAL F’N BABY ALPACA FUR! (Her name is Bettie Page).

Anyways, I currently am living in Portland, Oregon with my boyfriend & my dog. PROUD DOG MOM ALL DAY. (his name happens to be Fox). 



*this is called a sploot, if you didn’t know. –>

I work on a vineyard as a “Tasting Room Associate.” The irony in this is that we moved all the way to Oregon because I was accepted into a doctorate program with a focus on substance abuse. SoOoOo… a 180 in the whole career thing.

I’m from the East Coast ~ New York & Massachusetts, but Cape Cod is where I grew up. I lived in New Orleans for 5 years for undergrad have a degree in Psychology.

 

I am no pro but I have seen some shit. I have a list of different psychological diagnoses & feel like the poster child for Big Pharma at times. I decided to start a blog after a failed suicide attempt that I swore I’d keep a secret… it is cathartic, but heavy. Really heavy. I never sleep, don’t leave my house without my xanax, and try to avoid small talk like the plague. Buttttt we’re all just getting by & that’s what this is all about. 

I grew up in and around addiction, and have struggled and continue to struggle with an addictive AF personality. I used to hate the saying “one day at a time,” I don’t anymore. I haven’t struggled with any significant substance .issues since 2011, but it’s always there.

Most of the relationships that I stay in turned out to be toxic, with the exception of my boyfriend now. He is the fkn best, and never judges or manipulates. I don’t deserve him.

I am a firm believer of using Cannabis …..for anything, really. So there’s that.

….I don’t really have an answer about why you should read stuff that I share. Maybe because I just want to spread the word about living honestly in the lens of mental illness but still making it through, and make 0 bucks typing these words. Zilch. That’s not the point.

I’ll share more later! It got weird talking about myself so much.

img_8022

*Me as a child. Yes, I’m serious. I also had to wear headgear at night around this time.
& yes, that’s pleather.

How To Help A Friend Who’s Suicidal Without Sacrificing Your Own Mental Health

See Author Link Here

As of 2017, the United States alone saw an estimated 1.3 million suicide attempts. Needless to say, suicide, often misunderstood and stigmatized, is a desperately urgent issue in America—and not solely for the people battling it firsthand. Supporting a suicidal friend can be a taxing, often frightening, stressful, and heartbreaking experience. But, being the best support system possible requires you to put yourself and your own needs first.

Easier said than done, though. As any caring and thoughtful friend would be, you’re likely worried about the wellness and safety of the person who you suspect to be in crisis. This situation can lead to bouts of self-doubt (“Am I doing and saying the right things?” or “Am I making things worse somehow?”), but Christine Moutier, MD, chief medical officer for the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, says to trust your instincts. “Asking about suicide will not make someone suicidal if they do not already have those thoughts. Usually people feel relieved to share, especially if you are respectful and compassionate,” she says.

While you should open the lines of communication by asking your friend what they need, know what your own boundaries are, says Dese’Rae L. Stage, suicide awareness activist and creator of Live Through This. “If you’re not in a position where you can help, be honest. Say, ‘I’m not doing too well myself, but here’s a way we can find you help.” Going this route is not only best for you and your own sense of wellness, but it can also make you more approachable to your friend. “It shows how much you truly care about your friend and also allows you to be human and acknowledge you don’t have all the answers either,” says therapist Amanda E. White, MA, LPC, adding that this dialogue can come as a relief to someone who is suicidal, because so many people tend to walk on eggshells around them.

“If you’re not in a position where you can help, be honest. Say, ‘I’m not doing too well myself, but here’s a way we can find you help.” —Dese’Rae L. Stage, suicide awareness activist

Another option for helping your friend without sacrificing yourself is to call in additional support. Stage suggests tapping other friends, especially if you are in a tight-knit group, to make it a team effort of sorts. “Take shifts if you can,” Stage says. “See what [your friend] needs. Are they having trouble in their living space? Do they need help with laundry or dishes? Do they need someone to sit there and watch TV with them and order a pizza? Do they need to get out? [Helping with] things like that are good starters.”

If that arrangement—or any other, for that matter—doesn’t work for you, one thing that certainly can is honesty. Tell your friend you are there in the capacity you can be, whatever that may be, and that you love them. “Let them know they’re supported, even if you can’t necessarily be the one to do it,” Stage says. When you’re having this chat, or any conversation around suicide, it’s best to be direct, open, and a good listener. “People who are suicidal just need to be heard and validated. Even if you don’t agree with them, just say, ‘I hear you, and that sounds really hard.’”

“Focusing on your own health and wellness is important when you are trying to support someone in your life. If you are not well, you won’t be able to be a support to someone else who is struggling.” —Christine Moutier, MD

Dr. Moutier echoes that your time and attention alone can be a huge help. “Know that by simply caring and offering a listening ear and a feeling of support, you are providing them with everything a friend should.”

That said, you yourself may benefit from talking through this ordeal with someone who can guide, support, listen to you. “You are not alone—whether you’re the one struggling or the friend supporting them.” says Dr. Moutier, who says seeking therapy or support groups could be a smart avenue to explore for self-preservation. “Focusing on your own health and wellness is important when you are trying to support someone in your life. If you are not well, you won’t be able to be a support to someone else who is struggling.” In addition to seeking counseling for yourself, she recommends getting regular exercise, eating healthy foods, “and doing whatever you can do reduce your own stress.”

To be your best self—for the sake of your own well-being and ability to be source of support for a friend in crisis—you must always take care of yourself. And doing so, White says, is anything but selfish. “The most important thing is to make sure you are spending time with people who empower you and provide you with energy and love.”

If you or someone you love is suicidal, please contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8755 or visit suicidepreventionlifeline.org.

Vice: Young Farmers Are Cashing in on Hemp to Live Happier

In recent years, media attention has attributed the anxiety, depression, and suicide among farmers to factors beyond their control. Could growing cannabis for CBD turn the tide?

See Vice Article Here

 

The Dangers Of High-Functioning Depression And Anxiety

Nicole Kordana on Living With High-Functioning Depression And Anxiety
Author Page Here

“It’s been 8 years since I was diagnosed with depression and 5 since I was diagnosed with generalized anxiety. For many people when I tell them, it comes as quite a shock. “Wow, you don’t seem depressed” or “I’ve never seen you panic about anything” is a rather common response. Reflecting on this, I can understand why it would come as a surprise. I graduated high school with above a 4.0 GPA because I loaded my schedule with Advanced Placement courses so I could get ahead in college.

I participated in sports, I volunteered, I had a job, and generally seemed to be doing pretty well. I was accepted into the colleges I applied to and started school in the fall, where I also excelled and became involved in many activities around me. I was functioning as a “normal” young adult, so how depressed or anxious could I be right?

My depression and anxiety seemed like a war going on inside my head, reeking havoc on my physical health and general outlook on life. You would never have known by looking at my grades, my endurance on the soccer field, my performance at work, or my interactions with peers. It was easy to go about my daily life and excel in public, my mind was too busy to be sad or nervous, but when I returned home I entered a different world.

I was inconceivably sad and overwhelmed reflecting on the day I had. I knew I had a list of things I needed to complete before I could fall asleep in good conscience, but I lacked all motivation to complete a single task. On the other hand, not completing anything made me irrationally fearful that I would not succeed. I was sitting in the shell of my body unable to do anything.

Do your homework. I can’t. If you don’t you’ll be a failure, you’ll never be accepted into a good college. I’m too tired to do anything tonight. If you don’t do anything tonight, your grades will plummet; your teacher will be disappointed with you.

I’d go back and forth with myself until I forced myself to agonizingly and poorly complete something.

The physical toll on my body was no less. My back hurt immensely, I experienced migraines frequently, my panic attacks made me feel like my heart was going to be ejected from my chest, and my outbursts of anger toward my family were uncontrollable. And despite my insisting “nothing was wrong” my mother took me to see a psychiatrist.

The psychiatrist informed me that I experienced high-functioning depression and anxiety, which is not uncommon, especially in teens and young adults. High-functioning illnesses are scary in the fact that its easy for people who experience them to convince themselves that everything is fine, that they are just going through a phase because every other aspect of their lives are relatively normal.

Due to the “normal” levels of functioning in people who experience high-functioning depression or anxiety (or both), these people often go undetected by themselves, family, friends, co-workers, even medical professionals, and therefore don’t receive the treatment they need. Prior to receiving treatment, I was excelling in my personal and academic life, which made me question: what was the point in seeking treatment at all?

Our society is becoming more aware and accepting of mental illnesses, yet it is too common that people put the symptoms of mental illnesses in a box. I want to be explicitly clear when I say mental illnesses affect each person differently, not one experience with mental illness is identical. From therapy to medication to natural remedies, many treatments exist to help people who have depression or anxiety — but not receiving treatment often worsens the issue.

Many mental illnesses are invisible ailments, and high-functioning illnesses can often be silent, but that doesn’t mean they are not felt. We often hear that the people who fall victim to suicide “led perfectly normal lives” or their friends “had no idea they were sad enough to feel suicide was their only escape.”

Seeking treatment is not only a preventative measure to ensure symptoms don’t further progress; it is a proactive way to better your quality of life. As cliché as it sounds, with some simple ways to be proactive about your mental health, managing depression and anxiety is 100 percent attainable.

If you or someone you know experiences depression, anxiety, or a combination of both here are some ways to be proactive about your health and some important tips for when you are feeling low.

1. Know your body.

There are typically warning signs – bold or subtle changes- of when you are about to experience a little more of a struggle with your mental illness. Pay attention to these changes so you can take preemptive measures against your symptoms.

2. Have a solid support network.

Struggling with depression or anxiety is not something to be ashamed of. Millions of people are experiencing the same thing as you. Lean on people who can relate to what you are feeling, or find someone you trust that you are comfortable explaining your situation to. It’s good to have someone you can call, text, or talk to when you need a quick pick me up.

3. Give yourself some well-deserved attention.

Pamper yourself a little sometimes. You work really hard in your daily life and you manage your mental illness, appreciate yourself. It’s okay to have an extra helping of ice cream, buy those concert tickets, or just plain old relax for an afternoon. If you don’t take care of yourself, how are you expected to be able to perform at your best?

4. Exercise and eat right.

I’m sure you’ve heard it a million times but it is a miracle what eating right and some exercise can do for your body. I love to think of the mantra “feel good, do good” because it’s true; the better you feel the happier you behave. When you feel good it is reflected by how the people around you behave and leads to positive reinforcement.

5. Discover a hobby.

Finding an activity or hobby that you really enjoy can serve as a very positive distraction for negative things, and a mood boost for when you’re feeling above average. Find a group of people

6. Five sense distraction.

If you are in a public place and feeling overwhelmed, you can use the five sense method to calm down. Focus and examine: 5 things you can see, 4 you can touch, 3 you can hear, 2 you can smell, and 1 taste. Try to breathe through your nose as you complete this task and you will feel relieved in no time!

7. Don’t give up.

Treatments are typically not a quick fix, they take time, and yes a little energy. But the outcome is well worth it. Don’t give up on your treatment plan, on the people supporting you, or yourself. You are a powerful, resilient individual.

You can do this.

I love how relatable her story is. Don’t wait until it’s too late. It took me tying to kill myself to realize I was struggling