Hello, depression and anxiety? Meet Emotional IQ

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Image and content credit: lunarbaboon.com

Imagine visiting a therapist for depression, only to be told that the key to overcoming it is to develop better self-esteem. Or consulting a professional for anxiety issues, and then given tips on how to be more assertive. It sounds crackers, but research we conducted at Queendom indicates that self-esteem and assertiveness, along with six other competencies related to emotional intelligence, may act as protective factors against mental health problems.

Initially, it’s hard to see the link. What the heck does self-esteem have to do with depression, or anxiety with assertiveness? Well think of this way: If you don’t love yourself and have a healthy sense of self-respect, chances are you have a tendency to criticize yourself pretty harshly…and maybe even allow others to treat you just as poorly as well. If you don’t assert yourself with people who take advantage of you, having to face this person on a regular basis will make you anxious. You may even go out of your way to avoid this person the same way people with arachnophobia avoid spiders…by trying to jump out of a moving car, like I did. But that’s for another blog.

We analyzed data from 2,300 people who took our Emotional Intelligence Test and compared people who are currently being treated for depression or anxiety to those whose psychological health is in good shape. Here are the areas where they differ:

Self-Esteem

Score for depressed group: 51
Score for non-depressed group: 72

Score for anxious group: 55
Score for non- anxious group: 72

Individuals with good mental health recognize their worth. They treat themselves lovingly and respectfully, which in turn encourages others to follow suit. Rather than dwelling on their failures and their mistakes, people with high self-esteem continuously strive toward growth and self-improvement.

Positive Mindset

Score for depressed group: 50
Score for non-depressed group: 71

Score for anxious group: 52
Score for non- anxious group: 71

The world can seem much more frightening and daunting when individuals focus on the negative. Mentally healthy individuals prefer to keep their mind focused on hope and possibility. They look for the good in every situation and choose to believe that challenges can be overcome and that life can improve for the better.

Resilience

Score for depressed group: 59
Score for non-depressed group: 76

Score for anxious group: 60
Score for non- anxious group: 77

Although adversity and tragedy may temporarily sidetrack them, individuals in good mental health refuse to give up. Rather than fight against the current of life, they accept that there will be ups and downs. Mentally healthy people face troubles head-on and will either seek out a solution or simply ride out the storm.

Emotional Regulation

Score for depressed group: 47
Score for non-depressed group: 63

Score for anxious group: 47
Score for non- anxious group: 63

The idea that emotions are unhealthy has resulted in the ill-advised practice of ignoring or repressing negative feelings. This can contribute to significant physical and psychological repercussions, including high blood pressure, digestive problems, depression, and anxiety. Mentally healthy individuals release their emotions in an appropriate manner by acknowledging and tactfully expressing what they feel.

Coping Skills

Score for depressed group: 57
Score for non-depressed group: 74

Score for anxious group: 60
Score for non- anxious group: 74

The type of stressor a person is dealing with is not as significant as the coping technique he or she uses to adapt. Although comfort food or distraction might offer temporary relief, they don’t directly deal with the issue at hand. Mentally healthy people use proactive methods to cope with stress, whether it’s seeking information to help with their problem, turning to others for social support, or practicing mindfulness techniques.

Adaptability

Score for depressed group: 47
Score for non-depressed group: 63

Score for anxious group: 47
Score for non- anxious group: 64

Mentally healthy individuals adapt quickly to change and ambiguity. They understand that change is a part of life and that in order to grow, they need to let go of old and potentially unhealthy patterns of thinking and behaving. They also recognize that fearing the future is a waste of time and energy as nothing is set in stone. Depressed individuals in particular may linger in their melancholic state simply because it’s familiar – and familiarity offers stability and comfort.

Assertiveness

Score for depressed group: 44
Score for non-depressed group: 59

Score for anxious group: 49
Score for non- anxious group: 59

There is a fine line between being assertive and being aggressive, and mentally healthy individuals know how to walk that line. They tactfully express their needs, especially when the actions of others are impinging on them. They set personal boundaries and are willing to say “no” when they feel it is necessary.

Self-Awareness

Score for depressed group: 58
Score for non-depressed group: 70

Score for anxious group: 60
Score for non- anxious group: 70

Mentally healthy individuals recognize and accept their strengths as well as their failings. Most importantly, they use this self-knowledge to plan their life accordingly. Consciously acknowledging their feelings and desires allows them to make well-informed decisions. In addition, the self-awareness that comes with simply being present in the moment can be cathartic, which may dissipate stress and anxiety.

Your psychological state is inextricably linked with the type of thoughts you think and the constant wave of emotions that flow through you. This means that if you’re relentlessly worrying about the future, focusing only on your mistakes, or putting yourself down – and/or allowing others to – it will take a toll on your mental health. Our research has even shown that depressed and anxious individuals are more likely to engage in excessive rumination which can exacerbate a negative state. (Ever find yourself wide awake in bed because your mind is obsessively focused on something that’s worrying you? That’s rumination).

Emotional intelligence isn’t a panacea (although right now, I’m finding it hard to come up with an issue that emotional regulation, empathy, and self-awareness CAN’T help…Driving skills? Cooking skills?) My point is, by working on your emotional intelligence, you might find yourself better-equipped to handle the challenges life deals to you. You’ll be able to resolve conflict with others more effectively. You’ll cope with stress more easily. You’ll see hardship as a lesson learned rather than as a catastrophe. Emotional intelligence isn’t just about developing a better relationship with others, but with yourself as well.

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Insightfully yours,

Queen D

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