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Mental health SOS: help for depression and anxiety

Read time:

Five minutes or less

What you’ll learn:

  • How to recognise the signs of depression
  • What it feels like to suffer from chronic anxiety
  • How to get help if you’re unwell or want help for depression or anxiety

Asking for help with depression or anxiety is not weakness … it’s strength.

None of us is happy all the time. Our circumstances can sometimes cause us to feel worried or sad. But those feelings are often temporary. Depression and anxiety are different. They’re longer-term mental health issues that don’t always go away when circumstances change. Without help, depression and anxiety can affect your ability to function.

If you think you might be depressed or have anxiety, it’s time to be brave; it’s time to ask for help.

Here’s what depression feels like

Depression feels like sadness … but a sadness that is so overwhelming and so long-lasting that it affects every area of your life. With depression, often your:

  • Work suffers
  • Relationships suffer
  • Sleep is affected
  • Interest in activities you once enjoyed declines

In the most serious cases, depression can cause you to think about harming yourself. If you’ve felt depressed for more than two weeks, seek professional medical help. If you are thinking about harming yourself, you should call your local emergency response number immediately.

If you’re concerned you may be struggling with depression, talk to your doctor.

Here’s what anxiety feels like

People with anxiety disorders experience long-lasting, overwhelming worries ranging from worries about common issues like health and relationships to phobias about things that pose no real danger. Some people have panic attacks, which are sudden bouts of intense fear. Anxiety can make you feel:

  • Edgy
  • Irritable
  • Restless
  • Fatigued

With anxiety, you may have trouble:

  • Sleeping
  • Concentrating
  • Handling day-to-day functions

Like depression, anxiety can last for years if left untreated. Fortunately, it’s among the easiest mental health problems to treat. If you’ve felt anxious for more than six months or are thinking about harming yourself, get help immediately.

If you’re concerned you may be struggling with anxiety, talk to your doctor.

The big takeaway

If you hold onto just one thing from this post, it should be this:

  • If you’ve had one or more symptoms of depression or anxiety for more than two weeks, or
  • If you’ve experienced three or more symptoms on most days for at least six days, or
  • If you’re thinking about harming yourself …


Warning icon   How to get help in a crisis

If you feel like you may do harm to yourself or others, please call your local emergency services. There are also many free 24/7 hotlines to support you.

How to get help if you’re unwell and want help

Take advantage of our full-service mental health support — from diagnosis to condition management — from our comprehensive network of care providers, vHealth doctors and well-being services. It’s time to feel good again. Consider these resources for help with your depression and anxiety:

Talk with a doctor, virtually

Whether it’s your family doctor or a specialist, medical professionals can play an important role in getting you the support you need. A doctor will look at your health holistically, helping you balance your mental, emotional and physical health and well-being. vHealth provides easy access to medical consultations, prescriptions and well-being support, directly from your smartphone. Once you download the app and register your details, you can talk to internationally accredited doctors through your computer or smartphone, any time you need it (subject to plan eligibility). Click here to learn more about virtual telemedicine offerings and to find out if you’re eligible. Members in the U.S. can access Teladoc here.

Get one-on-one clinician care

Get help with a new diagnosis or managing an ongoing chronic or acute health condition through one-on-one telephone-based care between you and an Aetna International team nurse. It's confidential, comprehensive care built right into your benefits plan. To find out more or to contact our clinical team, click here.

Get emotional and mental health support and coaching for sustained behavioral change via Wysa

When you're experiencing sleep disturbances or feelings of isolation, anxiety or fear, turn to Wysa — an award-winning, easy-to-use mobile app offering instant, 24/7 access to confidential emotional well-being support. Free for Aetna International members, the app features enhanced capabilities for today's challenges, including a 12-week program with a well-being coach and extended access for members age 13 and older. To find out more about Wysa, click here.*

A photo of a woman at the market, taking the time to smell the flowers

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Wouldn’t it be nice if getting expert advice, guidance and inspiration to help you balance your emotional and physical health was quick and easy? That’s the idea behind Five For Me — bite-sized member health and well-being tips that help you build the habit of better health. Available exclusively to our members, Five for Me encourages you to take just five minutes out of your day to do something positive for your health and well-being. It’s quick, easy and good for your all-round health, and brought to you by a team of clinical experts. Read more

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