[THREAD] Let's talk about what depression makes us do. Given that it is the leading cause of psychological disability around the world, depression can make some changes within us and it is important to recognize them and seek help when you notice some of these changes.
One of the first changes is withdrawal. We tend to stay away from social situations or connecting with friends even if it used to make us happy before. We also feel a lack of self-esteem, sometimes going all the way to self-hatred. We are quick to pin down all the problems on us,
even those that we have no control over. We also start to feel disorganized. We can't gather the energy to do much so we start to become disorganized whether it is our house, or missing appointments and deadlines because we didn't write them down or have time to focus on them.
[THREAD] I want to take a moment to share a small exercise that can be very helpful and is super easy to do. This is especially helpful for those of us who have had anxiety or depression for a long time. This is because we tend to internalize that depression and anxiety so much.
We start to believe more and more the thoughts that come with them. That's problematic because they are external and don't reflect who we truly are or really believe in. But overtime, they kind of wear us down. Therefore, we need to get used to keep a list.
On one side of the list, we can put thoughts that we believe are truly ours. On the other side, we put those thoughts that we believe come from our depression and anxiety. How do we separate the two? It will mainly come with evidence.
[THREAD] I want to touch on gender differences in mental health. It is a very tricky topic in the sense that there are a lot of environmental issues at play that can skew the numbers a lot. When you look up mental illnesses, they tend to put the percentage of men and women.
There are a few problems with that. First of all, it doesn’t take into account non-binary and transgender individuals. This is problematic because it really doesn’t help with the validity of these numbers. Also, it doesn’t take into account so many factors.
For example, we will notice that women are more likely to have depression and anxiety. However, women also live in a patriarchal society where constant inequality, oppression, and fear for safety will make anyone feel more anxious and depressed.
[THREAD] let’s talk about how hormonal imbalances can cause mental health symptoms and how to deal with them. The connection between the two is well known and there are many conditions that would affect it such as PCOS.
In those cases, the symptoms would be higher during those periods of hormonal imbalances. The most common mental health issues related to those would be depression and anxiety. We often underestimate the role of hormones in mental health, but they are very important.
They carry messages from our brain to our bodies, activate or deactivate many bodily functions and regular our moods and behaviours. Many studies that PCOS in particular is strongly linked with increased depression and anxiety. The mental health symptoms can also be severe.
[THREAD] I want to talk about agoraphobia a bit. It is a process that happens when we have too many panic attacks or anxiety outside and therefore slowly withdraw more and more in our house. The idea of going outside or in open spaces scares us (almost opposite of claustrophobia)
The reason why this happens is because when we have anxiety attacks, they are more likely to happen outside where there are so many stressors that can trigger those attacks. Therefore, our mind starts to associate the outside world as a dangerous place.
After a while the idea of going outside in itself becomes enough to trigger that panic attack. It is something that can really impact our work, social life an general well-being. The longer it goes on, the more likely it is to become a habit and the harder it is to go outside.
[THREAD] Let's talk about repetitive (obsessive) thoughts a little bit. It is a bit of a misconception that they happen only with OCD. Almost all mental health conditions have some form of obsessive or repetitive thinking. How do they happen and what we can do to alleviate them?
Given that we get around 80k thoughts a day, it is impossible to remember all of them. Usually, the ones that our brain deems important happen because we attach emotions to them. Those emotions act like a filter that trap the most important thoughts.
When we are depressed or anxious, our brain will mostly attach emotions to the thoughts that are consistent with the theme of our general mental health. Because they are deemed important, our mind will keep bringing them back.
[THREAD] I want to talk about compassion fatigue in more detail. It is something that happens more often than we think and can add a lot of guilt because we feel we no longer care for other people, even when it is not accurate. So what is it? And can we get out of it?
Compassion fatigue is simply the inability to help or feel empathy for certain periods of time. It was first identified in healthcare providers such as doctors, nurses and therapists who work long hours with patients and who need to constantly show empathy.
It is a symptom of burnout and exhaustion when it seems like they no longer care. This is because they have been compassionate over and over again without a break and their minds is simply tired from it. However, we started to notice this effect also happening outside healthcare.
[THREAD] I want to talk about one of the most underrated exercises that I love so much. It is called core beliefs. All of us have core values and beliefs about ourselves and the world. However, when we are anxious or depressed, we sometimes internalize negative core beliefs.
We may start to believe that “we are annoying” or “no one loves us” as core belief because we have been depressed for so long that we believe it even if there isn’t a lot of evidence to suggest that this is true. Core beliefs are very important because they dictate our identity!
The purpose of this exercise is to write down all our core beliefs. After that, we pick those that have negative connotations or stem from low self-esteem. When we identify all those that are negative, we will pick one of them (for now) and change it.
[THREAD] I want to take sometime to discuss exam, presentation and deadline anxiety. It is a question I get multiple times per week and debilitates a lot of students and professionals. So let’s dive a little deeper into it, why it happens and if we can overcome it.
First of all, performance anxiety is not a different type of anxiety per say. Usually, those of us who have it have anxiety in other areas of our life. But performance anxiety can directly affect results and increase our mental health distress.
The root of performance anxiety is society based. When parents put too much pressure on kids and schools have this attitude that failing exams can ruin our life, it is easy to realize why we put so much pressure on ourselves to perform. However, that pressure can backfire.
[THREAD] I want to take a moment to explain health anxiety (formerly known as hypochondria). It is something that continues the cycle of anxiety and it spirals to the point where we think that something is wrong with us physically almost constantly. Health anxiety is very common.
We may go to the doctor for physical exams but the tests keep coming back with nothing wrong. However, our health anxiety convinces us that something is wrong and the doctors simply haven't caught it yet. We may get a small relief when we get our tests back but it doesn't last.
Our anxiety simply tends to move to another part of our body. If we do a heart test and everything looks fine, we will think that something is wrong with our lungs. It is a never ending struggle. We often look up symptoms on google to self-diagnose. However, this is a bad idea.
As COVID-19 continues to rise across the world, we are coming at a point where most people have lost someone to it on top of other factors. Grieving is a process that all of us will go through at one point or another. So how do we deal with it?
Losing someone is a very painful experience. How we lose that person also plays a role. The younger someone is, the harder it can hit. Accidents and sudden passing take away lives unexpectedly will also be quite shocking because it doesn’t follow the normal rule of dying old.
There are 5 distinct stages of the grieving process. Denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. Most people think that we go through these stages in a linear way and when we reach acceptance, we are considered recovered. However it doesn’t quite work that way.
[THREAD] let’s talk about thoughts. I mentioned them a lot in threads but I think they are important enough to deserve their own thread. They are central to our mental health and are one of the main reasons why we feel bad. Why do thoughts play such a central role?
First of all, we get many thoughts a day. The average is 80,000. Even in healthy people, around 60% of them are negative. In terms of evolution, the more paranoid and negative we were, the more we were on guard for dangers and likely to survive, which then passed on.
Given that we get 80k a thought a day, what makes some of them stick and the other ones we forget as quickly as they come? The answer is the amygdala (emotional centre of the brain). The more an emotion is attached to a thought, the more it is flagged as important and return!
[THREAD] in light of some of the misinformation that has been circulating from big accounts, I wanted to take time to talk about the origins of mental health and touch on substance abuse a little bit as well. It is crucial to remember that ANYONE can be impacted psychologically!
There are biological, psychological, social and environmental factors that impact each other to form our mental health. When the conditions are right, it creates vulnerabilities that can lead to mental illness. For example, someone may have lost a loved one and work is hard,
it can create the ideal ground for depression to set in. Home is also where a lot of mental health issues start with pressure from parents, conditional love, weight shaming and a host of other issues that clearly lead to helplessness and hopelessness and therefore depression!
[THREAD] Comparing ourselves to others. It is something we all do to an extent. It is a measuring stick to see how we fare in certain areas of our life compared to our peers. However, when it comes to those of us who have anxiety or depression, comparing can take a dark turn.
In an age where social media dominates our life, comparing ourselves to others happens mostly in those platforms. However, social media is an artificial environment. We control it. We can post things that make us look good or successful while keeping out things we don't like.
Given that fact, it is easy to imagine how others can look at our social media environment and think that our lives are as close to perfect as possible. However, very few people (if any) are completely honest when it comes to their social media.
[THREAD] I wanted to share a few more exercises that are very simple and can be helpful to do at home. These exercises are quite efficient when it comes to depression and anxiety. The first one will be facts vs interpretation. All our thoughts can be divided in these categories.
Facts would be thoughts that we know are true because we have evidence for them. For example, if someone tells us they love us, or that they are angry, we can put in the fact column. However, so many of our thoughts are interpretation.
Someone may not answer our texts or is not talkative. Our brain will automatically interpret why because we don’t like incomplete situations. However, a lot of the interpretations we have can be very negative depending on how we feel.
[THREAD] it has been a while since I wanted to have an honest conversation about timelines for recoveries when it comes to mental health. We often see it when we google symptoms or try to educate ourselves about clinical psychology, but it is so misleading and can backfire.
I don’t like giving timelines for recoveries because the complexity of mental health is hard to measure with time. There are too many components that come into play from how long it takes a client to trust their therapist, amount of opening up, environment clients live in, etc...
Those factors will play a big role. Furthermore, some clients may downplay the severity of their symptoms and it may take longer for them to heal. One component that is the biggest wildcard is the environment. Clients spend 1 hour once a week or once every two weeks with us.
[THREAD] I want to share a few exercises that anyone can do at home to help them out a little with their anxiety and depression as a temporary measure. I will do my best to keep them as simple as possible. The first one and perhaps the most important is writing goals.
In the first phase of this exercise, you can write all your bigs goals regarding recovery from your mental health, career, relationships, etc...Then for each goal, write them as many sub goals as possible. Here is the important part. If your mental health isn’t doing well,
you will need to start with one of the sub goals. It could be as simple as taking a shower, eating. We will stick with one sub goal a day. We want to prime our minds to achieve small goals for a few days then slowly increasing them. We want to set ourselves up for success.
[THREAD] Let's talk about whether it is possible to get into our own mental health issues if we help out someone who is struggling with their own mental health. This is something that people often wonder about. The answer is yes but there have to be certain conditions.
One of the main conditions is being the only caretaker. As you can imagine, it would be very overwhelming to have one person take care of the one struggling. It is too hard for the helper to have to deal with all of this on their own. This is why it is important to diversify.
The more people who are there to help out, the more they can rotate and take breaks so that not one person is too impacted at once. Another condition would be existing vulnerability. If someone is already vulnerable either biologically or because of stressors in their life,
[THREAD] Emotional numbness. It is very common but we always get surprised when it comes. It leaves us feeling empty, alienated from ourselves and our emotions. It can be scarier than the original anxiety and depression we were experiencing. Why do we even get it?
For the most part, that numbness is something that our bodies activate when they get overwhelmed. Experiencing many anxiety attacks or strong feelings of depression everyday for a while will be very overwhelming and take way too much energy.
That’s when our minds decide to shut it all off to protect ourselves from everything. As with everything our body does, this can be explained by evolution. Someone who spent most of their energy on emotions may not have had enough energy to survive periods with little food.
[THREAD] I just want to take a moment to talk about perfectionism and controlling our environment when we are feeling. It is very common to engage in those behaviours when our mental health is not doing well. Why do we do that? Is it helpful?
Mental health often manifests itself in disorganized emotions, thoughts and a feeling that we are no longer in control of ourselves. We fear the next panic attack, we don’t know what will happen and we start to expect the worst. One way that we cope with it is through control.
We start to control every aspect of our environment, whether it is food, how our space looks and we want everything done perfectly. This helps give us that sense of control that we lose when our mental health is not well. However, that can also be detrimental.
[THREAD] Let's talk about codependency. It is something that started to appear in our normal conversations, but it is not always clear what it means. A codependency is when, in a relationship, one person enables someone's else mental health issues, addictions and other issues.
Therefore, codependency creates many of painful emotions and contributes to worsening of our mental health. It leads to issues such as anxiety, low self-esteem, and feeling trapped. The low self-esteem that occurs in codependent relationships can make it hard to leave.
This means that despite knowing that things may be wrong with the relationship, we can feel isolated and not take the steps to leave because we fear not finding another relationship or being completely isolated. Codependency is also an environment that can create a lot of abuse.