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Cheat Sheet

Anxiety & Depression Workbook For Dummies

From Anxiety and Depression Workbook For Dummies by Charles H. Elliott, Laura L. Smith, Aaron T. Beck, MD

If you think you may be struggling with anxiety and depression, examine this checklist to see if any of the signs of depression or anxiety apply to you. Then, you can adopt some techniques for dealing with emotional distress and keeping yourself focused on the present.

Signs of Anxiety and Depression

Everyone worries and experiences sadness but when these feelings consume you and affect how you relate to people and situations, you could be dealing with anxiety and depression. Go through this list of possible indicators of emotional distress and check all that apply to you (the more you check, the more serious the possible problem):

  • I worry all the time.

  • I feel like a total loser.

  • My appetite isn’t what it should be.

  • I feel like I can’t catch my breath.

  • I don’t look forward to anything.

  • I’m a very nervous person.

  • I can’t think as well as I should.

  • I feel a lot of guilt.

  • I’m not interested in doing anything.

  • I feel hopeless.

  • I have a lot of fears.

  • My sleep is disturbed.

  • I’ve been having thoughts about death lately.

  • I avoid friends and social situations.

  • I can’t make decisions about anything.

  • I don’t have any energy lately.

  • My mood has been really low.

  • Sometimes I feel panicky.

  • My heart races for no reason at all.

If you think you may have a problem with serious depression, anxiety, or thoughts of suicide, please seek a professional consultation promptly.

How to Deal with Distress

Use these techniques when you’re feeling stressed or a little down as a way to lighten your mood and rid yourself of that “not quite right feeling.”

  1. Exercise. Take a brisk walk, jog, or dance for at least 15 to 20 minutes. Increasing your heart rate for a while burns off anxious feelings and increases endorphins, which lift your mood.

  2. Chill out. Fill a sink or bowl with ice water. Now take a deep breath and put your face in the water for 30 seconds or so. Believe it or not, you’re likely to feel more relaxed (and maybe a bit chilly) when you’re done.

  3. Get grateful. Stop what you’re doing right now and ponder what makes you feel grateful. Appreciate the small things — a good parking spot, the ability to read this cheat sheet, flowers, good music, a cute dog, whatever. Make a list of these things, and review it when you’re feeling down and out.

  4. Breathe better. Take a slow, deep breath. Hold the air for a few moments, and then let it out very slowly while you silently count to eight. Repeat this breathing exercise four or five times when you feel the need to decompress.

Living for Today: A Remedy for Anxiety and Depression

Feeling guilty about things that have happened in the past or thinking that something horrible is just around the corner is central to most anxious and depressing thoughts. To keep yourself in the here and now use these techniques:

  1. Sit quietly and take note of your surroundings. Notice the light, sounds, and everything around you.

  2. Avoid the temptation to judge or evaluate, and just observe.

  3. Notice your breath going in and out of your body.

  4. Notice how your body feels as you sit.

  5. Sit, breathe, observe, and be in the present. If your thoughts start to dwell on worries or concerns, just pull yourself back to the present.

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