Ending the Battle Against Anxiety and Depression

Anxiety and depression can often feel like a battle.

There may be thoughts that “it shouldn’t be happening” or that “you should be able to overcome this”.

What are my options?

As with anything that feels like it is wrong and should not be happening, three options naturally emerge to deal with it – fight, escape or give up (roughly equivalent to fight, flight or freeze – our inbuilt fear response).

Fight?

If you choose to fight, questions might arise like, “How do I get rid of this?” or “What can I do to end this?” Unfortunately, the fight approach not only doesn’t work, but it adds other negative feelings to the problem such as anger, worries about self-efficacy and more. Fighting anxiety and depression can feel like shadow boxing where every move you make is equally countered.

Escape?

If you choose escape, other problematic behaviors might be adopted which begin to create their own challenges in your life. This could include avoiding relationships (isolating oneself), falling prey to distractions such as drama and over thinking, and addictions to anything from substances to work, gaming, sex, shopping and more. Escape never works for long because the underlying issue is still there. In addition, any way of escaping tends to add problems which compound the anxiety or depression.

Give up?

If giving up becomes the approach, you often feel defeated and stuck. Thoughts like, “this is never going to end,” or “I am always going to be this way,” might come up and leave you feeling hopeless. This is one of the worst places to be and because you feel stuck, you are not likely to notice or enact the changes you need to make in order to get past it.

Why does nothing seem to work?

Fighting, escaping or giving up don’t work because they all give anxiety and depression power – your power. Not only do these responses not work but they help maintain your anxiety and depression.

As none of the natural approaches to anxiety and depression seem to work, what can be done and is there hope of a life without anxiety and depression?

There is hope

The good news is there is hope and there is another way. What is needed is a perspective shift – a move toward allowing rather than battling. In this “no struggle” perspective you do not view anxiety and depression as something wrong, something that should not be happening or something to be rid of.

That does not seem very palatable at first.

Why would I want to allow my anxiety and depression to be there?

It’s important to understand that all emotions serve a purpose. When allowed to fulfill their purpose, they naturally diminish. They may not go away forever, but they will pass and leave space for other experiences and feelings to arise.

How can I change if I allow it?

Allowing it means allowing it for this moment. There it is. It’s happening. It’s just like looking at an object in front of you and saying, there’s that object. It’s a fact right now. For anything that is a fact at this moment, the best response is allowing – because it already is. And this makes an immediate difference because now you don’t need to fight, escape or feel stuck. All the energy and emotions of fighting, escaping or feeling stuck are suddenly no longer needed.

You feel immediate relief from dropping this struggle and allowing what is happening – just allowing it for this moment. You end the battle by not making it into a battle. You take your power back and you have new options.

John Woychuk
M.A., CCC
J. Woychuk Counselling and Psychotherapy
6082 McGirr Road, Nanaimo, V9V1M1

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