Having anxiety and depression can be a challenge in multiple areas of life.
It can creep in through circumstances out of our control, and can be influenced by numerous physiological factors such as:
- Lack of sleep
- Lack of exercise
Making sure you get help at the first signs of struggle is so important.
Are Your Symptoms Situational or Clinical?
There are some ways to tell if you’re struggling with situational anxiety or depression vs clinical anxiety/depression.
Situational: Death of a loved one or pet, work stress, family stress, physical illness and limitations, career or life change, school stress, etc. Essentially, your symptoms were triggered by an event or experience, and with the right support your symptoms go away when the stress or or triggering event resolves.
But sometimes, situational anxiety or depression can begin to turn into a more clinical anxiety or depression, and that might look like:
- Loss of interest in activities you previously enjoyed
- Loss of interest in people
- Trouble concentrating or remembering details
- Worry about things you never used to think about
- Difficulty “shutting off” your mind
- Excessive anger
- Heart palpitations
- Persistent sad, empty or anxious feelings that don’t go away
There are many reasons someone can experience anxiety or depression, but it’s important to look into underlying physical reasons as well as emotional reasons to make sure the best treatment is given.
The Underlying Physical Root Causes
Our nervous system is largely responsible for helping us stay calm, happy, and able to engage in our life the way we want to.
Sometimes our nervous system gets overrun by life circumstances, where our reserves our used to cope with excess stress, poor diet, lack of exercise, and unhealthy relationships. Over time, we lose our ability to “bounce back” and our nervous needs a little support to function properly.
Our nervous system is, in part, responsible for making neurotransmitters like serotonin and dopamine that help us to get good quality sleep, have a balanced mood and deal with anxiety appropriately.
Other times, our hormones can become imbalanced which can lead to feelings of anxiety or depression. They are finding that even exposure to certain viruses and bacteria (like strep) can lead to neurospychiatric symptoms.
It’s important to work with a practitioner who can help you pinpoint the underlying physical reasons you might be experiencing your symptoms.
5 Tests to Look Into to Determine Root Causes
Here are 5 tests to have your doctor run if you are experiencing anxiety or depression to make sure that you are addressing any root causes and determine the right course of treatment.
- Vitamin D levels: Vitamin D is synthesized by exposure to sunlight and then converted for use in the liver. While there is conflicting data on whether or not vitamin D helps depression, several studies have been published to show that groups with major depression also had severely low vitamin D levels. This also explains why some people experience a worsening Having your vitamin D levels checked is an important step in helping the body get the nutrients it needs to make serotonin and dopamine.
- Thyroid panel: This includes TSH, T3, T4, reflex T3 and cortisol. For women especially, having low thyroid levels can produce symptoms of depression, and having high thyroid can produce symptoms of anxiety.
- Testosterone: For men, low testosterone can lead to feelings of depression. So in addition to having a thyroid panel done, testosterone is a good one to look into.
- Neurotransmitter testing: Urine neurotransmitter testing can be extremely helpful in pinpointing areas that are out of balance os you know what supplements or medications to use to target those low areas. This test is fairly easy to take since it is just a urine sample, but not all doctors are aware that it can be ordered.
- Pharmacogenomics: This is a relatively new practice, but it is a mouth swab that looks at your genetics to determine what medications you can metabolize, what medications you are most likely to react to, and genetic factors that can affect your ability to make the right neurotransmitters. Again, this is a new practice so many general practitioners are not aware that they can order this lab for you. If you end up needing medication, having this information can be invaluable for determining what meds are right for you.
Depression and anxiety don’t have to be debilitating.
Make sure to reach out to your provider if you’re struggling and know that sometimes it just takes time to find the right treatment that works for you.