The lights glow, the champagne fizzes, and the crowds gather to wish goodbye to a year well-spent, while ushering in the new. You should be happy, right? After all, it’s a celebration!
For some, the end of the year is a dreaded time — performance review season. Even if you don’t work in a professional setting that holds annual reviews, you know your aunt will have some feedback about how you’re living your life at an upcoming holiday gathering.
And receiving that kind of criticism — good or bad — can make you anxious.
Balancing happiness while dealing with anxiety can sometimes add even more anxiety. Why? The feeling both exhilarates and terrifies you. Mostly, it’s downright confusing, because even when you think you should be at your best, your body might not be responding the same.
We all know truly passionate people in our lives. They’re the ones who fully embrace their calling, vocation, or dream and pursue it daily with a mixture of enthusiasm and discipline. There’s the all-star athlete who balances a rigorous training, practice, and game schedule. Or the food blogger who carves out time late after the kids have gone to bed to dive into recipe preparation, writing, and photo editing. And there’s the activist who’s passionate about helping others and logs long hours at a homeless shelter after a full day at the office.
When we’re passionate about an activity, cause, or talent, we’ll do whatever it takes to devote ourselves fully to it, which is exactly why the admirable work of pursuing our passions can slowly ramp up symptoms of anxiety.
My adult life could be easily divided into two very distinct segments: BAD (before Adam died) and AAD (after Adam died). To anyone who doesn’t know me or Adam, that may sound a bit dramatic; I was only 24 when he died, which is a very early age to have your life virtually divided in half. But his death had a profound effect on me.
Anxiety and depression are intricately linked, which is why the same types of therapy and the same classes of medications are often used to treat both disorders.
In my practice, I have noticed that many clients that have self-diagnosed as depressed are actually experiencing anxiety. Similarly, many clients who identify as anxious are often depressed. Here, I will explain the connections between anxiety and depression, and why one can lead to the other.
Many people struggle with the fear of success, fear of closeness, or fear of happiness. Let’s say your father suffered from depression and ranted about the workplace being a dog-eat-dog environment where everyone has to watch his back.
As a child, you, like all kids, want to think of your father as intelligent and perceptive. You listened to him and thought that his worldview made sense. Even if you later realized, as an adult, that your father was a very negative and depressed person, his impact on your own worldview may be very difficult to change.
Although it isn’t rational, many people subconsciously steer themselves away from experiences where they feel good about themselves, or where they end up feeling happy. But why is this and what can you do about it?
If you have noticed that your intimate relationships have been stressful or unfulfilling, it might be time to think about your attachment style. Attachment style derives from your earliest experiences with your parents.
Knowing the effects these parenting styles have on you as a child helps you better understand the roots of potential relationship issues, and where to begin when addressing these issues — whether on your own, or with the help of a therapist.
You go forth into the world to follow your dreams and shine your beautiful light — only to feel like a fraud on the inside. You begin working on something, and self-doubt and anxiety creep into your brain. So, you choose over preparation and exert overreaching effort. You may even accomplish your goal through luck. But truly, you just want relief, and it comes only temporarily, until you push back any form of positive feedback — resulting in a loop back to anxiety and feeling like a fraud.
This is the cycle of imposter syndrome.
When your thoughts start spiraling, getting off the “staircase” can feel impossible. One terrible notion leads to the next: If I can’t get this report done in time, you might think, then I’ll be fired. And if I’m fired, I’ll have nothing to do all day. If I have nothing to do all day, I’ll fall into a video game and beer hole. If I fall into a video game and beer hole, then my wife will leave me. And then…and then…and then…
Does this process sound familiar? This anxiety spiral — also known as “catastrophic thinking” or “magnifying,” — often occurs alongside anxiety and depression. Think of your brain as a rocky mountain: one single distressing thought loosens an avalanche of related anxieties.