If you are experiencing any or all of the above you may not realize that they are actually related. You may think that you have three separate “disorders” when really what you are experiencing are different symptoms from the same problem.
You may feel overwhelmed, fatigued, sad and nervous all the time and lash out at others. You may engage in road rage. You may have tried medications for one or more of the difficulties only to find that one was still there or that the medication worsened one of them while helping the other. It can be very confusing to try to find the root cause of the problems.
When you are raised in a dysfunctional family your emotional growth and well being can be overlooked. Your emotional needs are often not met and you may not have been taught the skills of emotional success such as resilience, resourcefulness and coping. You may have been given negative messages that destroyed your self esteem and sense of worth.
It is not unusual for people from dysfunctional backgrounds to suffer from anxiety, depression and anger problems. In fact, it is quite common. It is a shared trait for individuals who were emotionally neglected in their formative years.
Low self esteem and self worth are normally the root cause of these emotional difficulties. If you don’t trust yourself to make decisions it makes you anxious. When you suffer high anxiety for too long, your body and brain want to shut down or back away and you then develop the symptoms of depression. When you are too stressed for too long and feeling depressed, you may also be irritable and this manifests itself in outbursts of anger or blame. The more frustrated you become the more you may lash out. Alternatively, you may just decide to hide yourself away.
If you are in a bad relationship, job or other situation you may feel stuck and not trust yourself to change direction. You may be living a life or experiencing things that you did not and would not have chosen. All of the above symptoms may kick in and make it harder to think and concentrate. None of these things at this point stem from a medical brain disorder, but rather a lack of emotional skills and the confidence in yourself that you can survive. At this point fear may be running your life.
Your symptoms will persist until you take action to learn new skills. You won’t take action until you feel more confident. In order to feel more confident you have to develop your self esteem. You are as good as any person out there, you just don’t understand that yet. You may feel that you don’t deserve an emotionally successful life. You may feel destined to suffer and accept it as your norm.
So what to do about this?
When working with clients with anxiety, depression and anger issues I have them start with the following exercise, asking these questions of themselves, writing down the answers then formulating a plan for improvement in their symptoms, happiness and overall life satisfaction.
- What is the real cause of your distress? Not your symptoms but the very root of those symptoms. For example, are you afraid to leave a bad relationship because of money or the fear of being alone? The fear of not being able to take care of yourself or survive on your own?
- What skills or other things do you need ?
- How do you get those?
- How are you handling this situation right now? Is it helping?
- How did you get here? What are the messages to yourself that you are currently operating from?
Notice the shift in focus from one of disease and symptom management to one of empowerment. It has gone from something that is happening to you to something you can plan your way out of. It is a complex situation, not an insurmountable lifetime sentence of unhappiness.
Following our example, if you are depressed because you are in a bad marriage, depression is not your real problem, the bad marriage is. More clearly, the inability to escape the bad marriage is the culprit and that inability may stem from the lack of confidence and skills necessary to be on your own. The depression is a symptom of the bad marriage.
Your next step then is to devise a plan that allows for growth and change. You may have to revise the plan if you hit obstacles but that is ok, everyone has to do that from time to time.
You may even feel that you are reparenting yourself. It is ok to do that. Give your inner self correct information that you now have learned as an adult. Give yourself permission to learn and try new emotional skills. No matter where you are starting from you can feel an immediate improvement in your mood when you feel like you have some control over your outcomes.
Please visit us at Psychskills and get the free resource How to Stop Wasting Your Life Being Depressed, Anxious and Unhappy: The Top 10 Strategies of Emotionally Successful People
To learn more about how dysfunctional thinking patterns arise, how they affect you and how to recover from them, see Psychskills.com and the book, Dysfunction Interrupted-How to Quickly Overcome Depression, Anxiety and Anger Starting Now.
Feel Good For Life!