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One of the symptoms of anxiety and depression is feeling lonely and isolated. It seems that everyone except you is surrounded by a group of friends and family. The intense loneliness can feel crushing and all-consuming. And then, sometimes there’s a convergence of several stressful events: chronic pain flares up, the lay-offs at work are grinding everyone down....you fill in the blanks.

And fatigue limits your ability to access coping and self-care skills. Your hard-won self-created persona crumbles and you are deluged with old feelings: shame, worthlessness and hopelessness.

Black and white thinking is a symptom of anxiety and depression

Another symptom of anxiety and depression is black and white thinking also called rigidity. It’s that all or nothing thing. Either/or, this or that, frick or frack, male or female, sad or happy, yes or no.

No shades of gray about the issues in your life; that person in your life is unreasonable about everything.

And then the inevitable conclusion of black and white thinking, turning on yourself:

“I'm no good, nothing will ever be right for me ever, no one will ever like me. I will never feel well again.”

This statement of black-and-white thinking is a symptom of depression, anxiety and other mental illnesses. Black-and-white thinking is a stress response. It’s an evolutionary response created so that we focus, assess and think quickly in survival situations. When you're feeling anxious or depressed, your body is stressed and you're in survival mode.

Imagine emotions and life as the spectrum of colors in between

The way to counteract black and white thinking, allow yourself to imagine emotions and life as the full spectrum of colors in between. Allow yourself to feel sad feelings, and then realize it’s normal that after some time, our moods change, and we feel better after a while. Both experiences are true. All people are sad sometimes and then we usually cycle out to another feeling.

Some positive actions to take when you are anxious or depressed:

Call a friend. Call your family. Journal. Find an online chat room for some help. Read a book. Take a walk. Go to the gym. Go to the yoga studio. Watch a movie Paint, collage, draw with media or with your computer. For long term results, get professional help. Therapy is a form of inner strength and self-care. Use the health insurance for which you already pay.

If you are feeling very bad, if you are thinking of harming yourself. Please access immediate help via a crisis line or drive to the nearby police station or the nearby emergency room, where you get emergency care. If you cannot drive yourself, call 911, and emergency services will come to you and take you where you can get help.

American Foundation for Suicide Prevention

Befrienders Worldwide

Crisis Line

1-800-273-TALK (8255)

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