Anxiety and depression are frequently associated with one other. If they happen at the same time, you should know what to do.
Many persons suffering from anxiety and depression are aware that their worrying and self-critical thoughts are unreasonable, but they are unable to control them. Do you ever worry so much that it affects your day-to-day activities? Or are you depressed to the point where your outlook is completely clouded? Do you have these or similar feelings frequently? You're not alone.
Anxiety disorders, which include generalized anxiety disorder, panic disorder, and social anxiety disorder, are the most frequent mental health problem among U.S. adults, impacting 18.1 percent of the population each year, according to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA). The biggest cause of disability is mood disorders, which include major depressive disorder, bipolar disorder, and seasonal affective disorder.
Furthermore, there is a substantial risk of experiencing depression alongside an anxiety condition or vice versa. According to Sally R. Connolly, LCSW, of Louisville, Kentucky, many persons with major depression also have severe and chronic anxiety.
According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, 60 percent of those with anxiety will also have signs of depression, according to some specialists (NAMI).
What Are the Possible Links Between Anxiety and Depression?
Although depression and anxiety are not the same emotional states, mental health research reveals that they frequently coexist because they can be triggered by identical circumstances. Those overlapping causes, according to a report published in the American Journal of Psychiatry in May 2020, can include:
- Genetic factors - Environmental, noninherited factors account for 60% of the tendency to depressed and anxious symptoms, while genetic factors account for 40%. ” "There is generally some family history with anxiety, more so than depression, and so we think there may be some genetic predisposition to this," Connolly explains.
- Environmental factors - These stresses, also known as social factors, include early childhood trauma or neglect, as well as current stressors such as relationship problems, unemployment, social isolation, and physical sickness. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, people with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), an anxiety disease, are more prone to develop depression (NIMH).
- Pain - According to Harvard Health, chronic pain, especially disabling pain syndromes like fibromyalgia, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), low back pain, migraines, and nerve pain, are connected to psychological discomfort, including anxiety and depression. Indeed, evidence reveals that “pain shares some molecular pathways with anxiety and depression,” according to the authors.
The core of the double disorder, according to Connolly, is "a cycle." "When you're anxious, you tend to be preoccupied with some worry or problem, and you feel horrible about it." Then you start to feel like you've failed, and you start to feel depressed." "People who are depressed often feel anxious and worried," she continues, "and one can prompt the other."
Anxiety and Depression Symptoms
Anxiety and depression can share some common symptoms, according to the current Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-V), the standard classification of mental disorders used by mental health practitioners in the United States. These symptoms include, but are not limited to:
- Getting tired quickly
- Concentration problems or a mental blackout
- Disrupted sleep (difficulty falling or staying asleep; restless, unsatisfying sleep)
Other indicators that a person may be suffering from both anxiety and depression include:
- Fear and worry that is constant and irrational.
- Rapid heartbeat, headaches, hot flushes, sweating, abdominal pain, and/or difficulty breathing are among physical symptoms.
- Eating habits that are either too much or too little.
- Sadness or a sense of worthlessness that lasts for a long time.
- Loss of enthusiasm for previously enjoyed hobbies and activities.
- Unable to relax.
- Panic attacks are common.
Is it Possible to Treat Anxiety and Depression at the Same Time?
Yes. Nobody should have to deal with anxiety or depression, let alone both. People with anxiety disorders should discuss their symptoms with a psychiatrist, therapist, or other healthcare practitioners as soon as possible and begin therapy.
Connolly advises seeking a complete evaluation from a psychiatrist as a first step if you feel you have both anxiety and depression. "Having a good diagnosis to rule out bipolar disorder is particularly important for those with both [anxiety and depression]," she explains.
According to a study published in the World Journal of Psychiatry in December 2015, effective treatment options often include a combination of talk therapy (psychotherapy), medication, and certain lifestyle changes. Contact your nearest anxiety and depression therapy center, these may include the following:
- Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) - CBT teaches people to challenge their negative beliefs and to reduce stress by using coping skills and relaxation techniques. According to Harvard Health, CBT is not only a well-established treatment for anxiety and depression, but it is also the most thoroughly researched psychotherapy for reducing pain.
- Interpersonal Psychotherapy (IPT) - IPT examines the link between the emergence of symptoms and ongoing interpersonal issues such as unresolved grief, relationship conflicts, and social isolation or withdrawal.
- Antidepressant Medication - Celexa (citalopram), Prozac (fluoxetine), Lexapro (escitalopram), Paxil (paroxetine), and Zoloft are examples of antidepressants (sertraline). For people with more severe anxiety and depression, SSRIs are frequently combined with CBT and other forms of psychotherapy. Other alternatives include serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs), such as Cymbalta (duloxetine), Effexor (venlafaxine), and Pristiq (desvenlafaxine).
- Exercise - According to the Mayo Clinic, exercise can help with depression and anxiety symptoms, though the reason for this is unclear. One reason could be because exercise causes the brain to release feel-good hormones that improve your mood. Another benefit could be that it diverts your attention away from your worry, fears, and other negative thoughts. According to the ADAA, walking for as little as 10 minutes can help relieve symptoms.
- Techniques for Relaxation - According to a large research review published in March 2014 in JAMA Internal Medicine, mindfulness meditation, which is a way of training your mind to slow down racing thoughts, let go of negativity, and calm both your mind and body by sitting quietly and focusing on your breathing, can alleviate symptoms of anxiety and depression and improve quality of life.
Make an appointment with Maudsley Health, an anxiety clinic in Abu Dhabi, if you or someone you know needs help coping with anxiety or depression. Adult Services at Maudsley Health Mental Health, Abu Dhabi, began offering adult mental health support services in 2017.