The emotional pain one experiences from depression and anxiety can be severe… sometimes even debilitating. Many people have been diagnosed with both conditions (the two often accompany each other) and have experiences which are undoubtedly some of the darkest days of life.
“The strongest people are not those who show strength in front of the world, but those who fight and win battles that others do not know anything about.” – Jonathan Harnisch, The Brutal Truth
Anxiety disorders and the most common mental illness in the U.S., affecting 40 million adults in the United States age 18 and older, or 18% of the population. Nearly one-half of those diagnosed with depression are also diagnosed with an anxiety disorder. – Anxiety and Depression Association of America
But people can also benefit from the condition. Growing, becoming stronger, and learning the importance of appreciating life despite the pain.
Indeed, one can become a better, stronger person by experiencing adversity. Depression and anxiety certainly fits this description. The experience often entails pain but can bring about tremendous growth if one can learn to understand and harness the (often veiled) opportunities that the illness brings.
So, without further ado…here are 8 ways in which depression and/or anxiety has helped people become better for it:
1. More Compassionate
Going through the circle of hell that is depression and anxiety, it becomes much more natural to practice compassion and empathy. Also, the compassion and empathy that we feel for people is often much deeper.
We’re much more likely to recognize the important issue that is mental health and its impact on the world. We’re far less likely to pass judgment on someone in the event that they suffer from any illness or condition; whether it be psychological or physical.
2. More Grateful
Without a doubt, depression and anxiety have a sinister way of numbing us to those once-enjoyable activities. In fact, this ubiquitous symptom is defined by the American Psychiatric Association: “Decreased interest or pleasure in most activities, most of the day.” It is considered one of the leading signs of depression.
But some people undergoing or having undergone depression learn to appreciate those moments in life when something does go right. It’s actually much more special in some cases, especially after being stuck in “emotion-neutral.”
3. Enhanced Perspective
Depression, really, is a monster…and anxiety is the monster’s worrisome accomplice. Both conditions try to imprint the belief into a person that they’re completely and utterly alone…and in a world that would never understand them.
However, people that have become better as a result of their depression often challenge these devious and erroneous thoughts. In so doing they’ll interact with, and benefit from, the knowledge that many have been defeated, even been forged by, depression and anxiety.
This often leads to increased awareness and perspective towards the world around them.
4. Increased Confidence
While it may seem ironic, depression and anxiety can potentially increase one’s confidence. This is because, when we are depressed, it is likely we will approach situations and challenges that appear insurmountable. Of course, they often are not…but the illness won’t let us in on that.
However, when we overcome whatever monster, we can look back and realize that we’re stronger than we initially thought. We then carry this belief forward. This results in a feeling of strength breeds natural and potent confidence.
5. More Forgiving
Some people – if they know someone is mentally ill – will ignorantly attach some type of stigma to that person. The person suffering from the condition will eventually catch on, resulting in some bitter feelings.
This is all the more hurtful and damaging because the ill person, more likely than not, is already dealing with persistently dehumanizing thoughts and emotions. People who are able to forgive themselves, and the people who hurt them – all despite such challenging circumstances – are often much more forgiving people than before.
6. More Patient
Experiencing depression and anxiety brings about a certain sense of vulnerability and humility. Some of the strongest men and women in the world nearly buckle from the numerous challenges associated with both conditions.
As such, victims often come to the realization that they’re only in control of so much. We understand that the world does not necessarily care to “speed things up” for our benefit. Coming back from depression and anxiety is often a long road, so we gain patience in that respect as well.
7. Better Relationships
It’s common for people who overcome the dark days of depression and anxiety to come out with a fresh perspective, as mentioned before. One epiphany that the person often has is that cutting negativity out of their life is crucial to their happiness.
This often means cutting out the negative people from their life and replacing them with positive influences. Of course, these new relationships are much more fulfilling. Many people also gain a deeper love and appreciation for their friends and family, which leads to better relationships.
8. More Active
There is a strong correlation between physical and mental health. Physical activity provides all sorts of benefits to the brain, which experts believe can actually assist people in overcoming depression and anxiety.
Simply stated, exercise makes a person feel good. The release of endorphins – the brain’s “feel good” chemicals – assures that. It’s not uncommon for a person experiencing depression or anxiety to get hooked on working out for this very reason.