It can feel like your mind is a prison, and you’re the only one with the key to unlock the door. Anxiety and depression can be incredibly daunting and overwhelming, making it seem like you’ll never be able to break free. But the truth is, you don’t have to live like this forever. You can take back the control you’ve been missing, and with the right tools and help, you can overcome anxiety and depression and start to live a happier, healthier life. It starts with taking the first steps, however small, and understanding where to find the resources and support you need. Together, we can regain the freedom that has been taken away from us and start to live the life we deserve.

What is Anxiety and Depression?

At its most basic level, anxiety is a feeling of worry, fear, and uneasiness, particularly about an upcoming event or situation. It’s completely normal to feel anxious at times, as it’s a natural reaction to everyday stresses and can even be beneficial, helping us stay safe. But for some people, feelings of anxiety become a regular part of their everyday lives, interfering with everyday activities, work, and relationships. If you have persistent feelings of anxiety that disrupt your life and affect your mental health, you may be diagnosed with an anxiety disorder. There are many types of anxiety disorders, including generalized anxiety disorder, panic disorder, and obsessive-compulsive disorder. If anxiety disorders aren’t treated, they can become chronic and last a long time, even indefinitely. Depression is characterized by feelings of sadness, loss of interest in activities you once enjoyed, and a general loss of energy. These feelings can also include hopelessness and a pessimistic outlook on the future, along with a wide range of physical symptoms. People with depression often have trouble getting out of bed, concentrating, sleeping, and making decisions. Some people with depression also have anxiety.

Signs and Symptoms of Anxiety and Depression

Signs of anxiety – A racing heart, sweaty palms, difficulty sleeping, headaches and muscle tension are some of the signs of anxiety. Feeling constantly on edge and easily irritated are other signs of anxiety. Depression – Feeling sad, hopeless, or that you have no energy to do anything are common signs of depression. Caring less about things that used to matter to you, such as hobbies and relationships, are other signs of depression.

Causes of Anxiety and Depression

There isn’t one specific cause for anxiety and depression, but there are a number of different factors that can contribute. Some of these factors include:

  • Genetics – If you have a family history of anxiety or depression, you are at a higher risk of developing the same.
  • Hormonal changes – Hormonal changes during and after pregnancy can cause anxiety and depression in mothers.
  • New or increased stress – A lot of stress can cause anxiety and depression.
  • Major life events – Major life events, such as the death of a loved one, divorce, or moving to a new place, can also cause anxiety and depression.

Common Treatments for Anxiety and Depression

There are many different types of treatment available for anxiety and depression. It’s important to find the right treatment for you, so you can feel better as quickly as possible. Types of treatment include:

  • Medication – Anti-anxiety and antidepressant medications can be helpful for treating anxiety and depression.
  • Therapy – There are many different types of therapy. The right therapy for you will depend on your specific needs.
  • Mindfulness – Mindfulness is a type of therapy that teaches you to be in tune with your emotions and thoughts, while being nonjudgmental towards yourself.
  • Self-help – There are many self-help techniques and tools that can help you with anxiety and depression.

Dealing with Anxiety and Depression on Your Own

  • Exercise – Exercise is great for managing both anxiety and depression. However, it’s important to find an exercise routine that works for you, as everyone responds differently.
  • Get Enough Sleep – Sleep is an important part of recovery and can also help prevent anxiety and depression.
  • Make Sure You Eat Healthy – Eating a healthy diet can help improve your mental health.
  • Practice Positive Self-Talk – Being kind to yourself is important and can help you manage anxiety and depression.
  • Spend Time with Friends – Spending time with people you trust can help with your recovery and gives you a chance to take a break from stress and worry.
  • Talk to Someone – Talking to a friend, family member, or a therapist can help you manage your anxiety and depression.
  • Practice Mindfulness – Although it’s not a quick fix, mindfulness can make a significant difference over time.
  • Stay Active – Staying active is important for your mental health, especially if you have anxiety or depression.

Seeking Professional Help for Anxiety and Depression

If you are experiencing anxiety or depression, it is important to seek help as soon as possible. While you can take steps to try and manage your symptoms on your own, it is often best to seek professional help. There are many different types of therapy and counseling that can help with anxiety and depression. It may be helpful to discuss your options with a therapist when deciding which type of therapy to pursue. At Valiant Minds Counseling, LLC  we will work with you on developing a treatment plan that is unique to your needs and guides you on your path of wellness.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) for Anxiety and Depression

Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is one of the most common forms of psychotherapy used to treat anxiety and depression. CBT is based on the idea that our emotions and behaviors are influenced by how we think about things. CBT can help you change the way you think about things in a way that leads to better feelings and fewer or less severe symptoms. In CBT for anxiety, you work with a therapist to identify the thoughts and beliefs that make you anxious.  You then learn techniques to challenge and change these thoughts. CBT for depression is similar, but the goal is to change your thoughts and beliefs to be more positive. Below are the most common types of negative thinking and ways to redirect these thoughts to alleviate your feelings of anxiety and depression.

  1. All-or-Nothing Thinking

Seeing things in black-or-white. No shades of grey. If things aren’t perfect, you see them as a failure.

For example: You started a new diet, and for the first few days, you’re eating according to plan.  And then, you have a sliver of apple pie. You berate yourself for not being perfect and tell yourself, “I’ve blown it, I might as well just eat the whole pie! I’m such a failure!”


  1. Overgeneralization

One thing happens, and you believe that it “always” happens to you. Or you want something to happen, and when it doesn’t, you believe it “never” happens to you. These thoughts are upsetting and set up a cycle of defeat.

For example: You’ve asked someone out on a date, and they say no. Your automatic response is, “I’ll never find someone to go out with me.”


  1. Mental Filter

Of all the things going well, you pick one negative detail out and focus all your attention on it.

For example: You received 20 feedback forms after facilitating a workshop. 19 of the forms were filled with positive statements about you and your work. One form noted that you could have managed the time better. All you thought about was that one “negative” statement while ignoring all the other positive feedback.


  1. Discounting the Positive

You often feel inadequate or unappreciated because you ignore positive experiences.

For exampleYou sang beautifully on stage but told yourself it wasn’t good enough.


  1. Jumping to Conclusions

How often have you jumped to a conclusion based on a feeling or thought without any evidence to support it?

Mind reading example: You seem to know exactly how someone is thinking. You often interpret an action or response and conclude that you’re not liked or that someone is angry with you.

Fortune-telling example: You already know you’re going to struggle with something before it has even started


  1. Magnification/minimization

Your special magnifying glass can magnify an issue, making it bigger than it really is. Or you’re able to minimize the situation and your positive qualities.

For exampleYou agreed to pick up milk on your way home from work. With a lot of things on your mind, you forgot. In your mind, you become the most forgetful, unreliable, disorganized person there is!


  1. Emotional Reasoning

This cognitive distortion allows you to believe that whatever you’re feeling, it must be so.

For exampleYou’re anxious about driving so you’ve concluded that driving is unsafe.


  1. “Should” statements

You have a clear idea about how things “should” or shouldn’t” be. When they don’t turn out that way, we blame ourselves or others.

For example“I should have done it my way instead of listening to you. It’s your fault it didn’t work out.”


  1. Labelling

This distortion is like all-or-nothing thinking. You label yourself in a negative way when you’ve done something you or others don’t like. You don’t realize that you are not your behaviour. Similarly, when someone else does something you don’t like or makes a mistake, you label them, writing them off as if their behaviour is who they are.

For exampleYou give someone directions that turn out to be wrong. Instead of recognizing you’ve made a mistake, you label yourself – “I’m such an idiot!” Or, you give someone else a label when he/she disappoints you or makes a mistake – “She’s a liar!”


  1. Personalization and blame

You hold yourself responsible for events or things you don’t have 100% control over. This distortion involves the blame game – when you blame something or someone else, you don’t have to look at your part in the situation.

For example: Your child gets into trouble at school, and instead of being curious about what happened and why, you blame yourself for being a terrible parent. Or, you blame others for your child’s challenges at school: “It’s the teacher’s fault that my child is in trouble. She’s a terrible teacher.”


5 steps to change your thinking

Our thoughts create our feelings. Changing our thoughts changes how we feel.

This simple and yet challenging formula is what will turn these Cognitive Distortions around. The strategies outlined below challenge each one so that you can begin to think more effectively and realistically. As you practice these, you’ll find yourself feeling better – about yourself and others.

Step 1: Identify Your Distortions

Keep a journal. As you become familiar with the 10 Cognitive Distortions, notice which ones you seem to favour. Writing down your thoughts and the corresponding distortions in your journal help you keep track of what you’re thinking about and how you’re feeling.

Step 2: Challenge Your Thinking

It’s important to challenge your thoughts because not all of our thoughts are true! As you write down your thoughts and the corresponding distortion, ask yourself: Is this really true? Do I know this to be true, for sure? Have I checked the facts?

Take a step back and assess the situation again. Continue challenging your thinking with other questions such as “Am I really a bad person?” or “Could it be that she was doing the best she could and just made a mistake?” or “When would this not be true?”

Step 3: Compassionate Self-talk

We are often extremely hard on ourselves. Our self-talk is harsh, negative, and sometimes abusive.  When you think about how you would speak to a good friend, chances are you’d never say the things you say to yourself to your friend.

For each distortion you’ve identified, write down how you would respond to a good friend. Then, practice using this more compassionate self-talk with yourself.

Step 4: Seek Support

Find a friend or someone you trust to help you challenge your assumptions and distortions. The right questions can help you shift your perspective from black or white to shades of grey! Creating some flexibility in your thinking can help you lower your stress, feel less anxious and shift away from depression.

Step 5: Positive/Negative Outcomes

Self-assessment is key to finding the mental and emotional freedom you’re looking for as you challenge your own cognitive distortions. By asking yourself to assess the positive and negative outcome of sticking with your perspective, you’re able to decide whether it’s worth keeping or changing it.

Asking these questions will help:

  • How will it help me or hurt me if I believe this distortion?
  • Will it move me closer to being the person I want to be or farther away?
  • If I dig my heels in and continue to believe this thought, how will it impact my relationship(s)?
  • How do I feel about myself?
  • Does believing this distortion help or harm my depression, confidence, self-worth, anxiety, etc.?

Challenging your cognitive distortions does take practice and patience, but at Valiant Minds Counseling, LLC we guarantee that your life will become so much better as you take control of your thoughts instead of allowing them to control you.

Mindfulness Strategies for Anxiety and Depression

Mindfulness is a type of therapy that helps you be more in tune with your emotions and thoughts, while being nonjudgmental towards yourself. There are a number of different exercises and practices you can try to help with anxiety and depression.

  • Notice Your Breathing – Take a moment to notice your breathing. Focus on your breath going in and out.
  • Grounding- Take a moment and notice the environment around you. How many items are yellow? How many are green? What sounds can you here?
  • Practice Gratitude – Acknowledge what you’re grateful for.
  • Exercise – Exercise is great for managing both anxiety and depression.
  • Sleep – Sleep is an important part of recovery and can also help prevent anxiety and depression.
  • Eat Healthy – Eating a healthy diet can help improve your mental health.

Self-Care Practices for Anxiety and Depression

It can be helpful to think about your mental health as something you need to take care of, like your physical health. There are lots of things you can do to help maintain good mental health. Some of these include:

  •  Pay Attention to Your Environment
  • Getting outside – Getting outside can help you feel better.
  • Practice Relaxation Techniques
  • Relaxation can help lower your stress and improve your mood.
  • Spend Time with Friends – Spending time with people you trust can help you manage your anxiety and depression. –
  • Write in a Journal – Journaling can help you process your emotions and thoughts.

Finding Support for Anxiety and Depression

Whether you decide to seek professional help or try to manage your anxiety and depression on your own, it is important to know that you have support. Having someone to talk to can make a big difference in how you feel and can help you take control of your mental health. You can find support in a number of ways, including: – Speaking with a family member or friend – Talking to a therapist – Joining a support group – Reading self-help books – Talking to a religious leader – Talking to your doctor.


Anxiety and depression can be incredibly overwhelming, but the truth is, you don’t have to live like this forever. The most important thing is to start taking action and taking control of your mental health. It is possible to regain the freedom that has been taken away from you and start to live the life you deserve. With the right tools and help, you can overcome anxiety and depression and live a happier, healthier life. It starts with taking the first steps, however small, and understanding where to find the resources and support you need.