Muriel Cooper
Psychologist in Mornington

Stress, anxiety and depression

 

StressedTHE S.A.D. cycle starts with Stress – if you don’t deal with stress it gets worse and becomes Anxiety – if you don’t deal with Anxiety it becomes Depression.

S. + A. = D.

You too can embrace the S.A.D. cycle – all it takes is staying in stressful, unhappy situations and not doing anything about it – that’s all it takes.

For example, you’re unhappy with your job; your boss is on your back, you don’t like your workmates and the work is boring. You constantly think about your awful dead-end job and this makes you feel really uptight.

So far, so good, you’re stressed.

Every day when you wake up you have a feeling of dread: “Oh God, I have to drag myself to that rat hole again” – I hate it”. You have a headache that won’t go away and you feel nauseous and unwell.  

So far so good – you’re really getting into the S.A.D. cycle – you’re around the anxiety stage now.

So why don’t you get out of it?

Here’s the weird part; you hate your job, it makes you stressed and anxious but the thought of getting a new one is just too stressful. The thought of trawling through the job ads stresses you out; the application, the interviews, making up excuses for taking time off work, and so on. “Better the devil you know”. You have a mortgage, and you need security. You feel stuck.

So you stay where you are, getting more stressed and anxious until the stress and anxiety turns into depression, and boy are you really in trouble.  

Well done!  You’ve nearly made it to stage 3.

Now you don’t just dread getting out of bed in the morning, you can’t get out of bed in the morning. You feel totally unmotivated, physically ill and mentally revolted at the thought of going to work Your partner gets tired of dragging you out of bed and the strain is starting to tell on your relationship.

Congratulations!  You’re nearly to stage 3, depression, where pulling yourself out of this is going to be a long, hard process.

If I put this to you just as I have so far, you’d probably say something like “That’s crazy, why would anyone want to embrace the S.A.D. cycle, Why would they deliberately do that to themselves?”.

In this scenario, the original motivating factor for this person was fear and insecurity.  Fear of not getting another job, fear of exposing oneself to the job market, hopelessness that things at work will never get any better and not getting help for the way they were thinking and feeling about work.

Making major decisions when you’re stressed and anxious may increase your fear and anxiety, at least temporarily. So having someone help you make a plan to overcome this obstacle in your life, a professional like a psychologist or counsellor can not only help you to NOT embrace the S.A.D. cycle, but learn coping skills that will help you remain optimistic, positive and in control, for life.
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