A few weeks ago, my daughter became Miss Rio Grande Valley USA 2019. Her answer to a question during one of the final stages of the competition is when I knew in my heart she was a winner.
When asked what has been the most difficult thing she had to overcome? She chose to share her struggle with anxiety and depression, which was something only her family and close friends knew about.
We noticed something was amiss with our daughter during her senior year of high school when the activities she had always handled — yearbook, cheerleading and schoolwork — overwhelmed her.
It wasn’t until the end of her freshman year at St. Edward’s University in Austin that she was diagnosed with anxiety and depression.
According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, anxiety disorders are the most common mental illness in the U.S., affecting 40 million adults. Women are twice more likely to be affected than men.
Anxiety disorders develop for many reasons, including genetics, brain chemistry, personality and life events.
People assume that when a person suffers from a mental disorder, they do so because of an emotional trauma. Many also believe that if a person really wants to they can just snap out of it.
The simplest way for me to explain depression is that a healthy brain produces happy serum and that a brain with depression stops producing it from one day to another.
When you suffer from anxiety, simple things overwhelm you, leaving you feeling annoyed. It’s also difficult to make decisions or concentrate in school or work.
Anxiety and depression can be overlooked during adolescence because teens feel many of the same things I just described.
A person dealing with anxiety and depression has to take care of themselves. They need to take vitamins, rest and exercise.
The support of your family and friends is important. The understanding that things will get better is also key.
Therapy and medicine help, but what helps the most are the life changing habits a person makes during their struggles.
I recommend two books to anyone who is suffering from anxiety and depression or has a family member who is dealing with it:
>> “Feeling Good The New Mood Therapy” by Dr. David D. Burns explains what anxiety and depression is and teaches cognitive therapy techniques that can help you understand what you are feeling and why you are feeling it. It also helps you develop a more positive outlook on life.
>> “Change Your Brain Change Your Life” by Dr. Daniel G. Amen explains what happens to your brain during depression and how you can learn to heal your brain from negative emotions is.
The overwhelming support and response my daughter has gotten since she spoke publically about this has shown us how many people are dealing with this in silence.
As a mother who has seen her daughter struggle with anxiety and depression, I am proud of my girl.
Maria Luisa Salcines is a freelance writer and certified parent coach. Follow her on Twitter at @PowerOfFamily and on Instagram at @mlsalcines. Her blog is FamilyLifeandFindingHappy.com.