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  • Writer's pictureMichelle Barsky

Here’s How Depression and Anxiety Are Related

Anxiety and depression are two of the most commonly diagnosed mental illnesses. Often, they even appear hand in hand. However, the connection between anxiety and depression may not be obvious at first.

We usually associate anxiety with high-energy emotions and nervousness, while we associate depression with low-energy emotions. Despite appearing as opposites, there are many shared symptoms between the two.

In fact, depression and anxiety have what is called a high rate of “comorbidity”, or the presence of two or more medical conditions occurring simultaneously. But why? And how? Let’s look at how the two operate and then explore how and why they are so often seen together.

About Depression

Depression is one of the most diagnosed mental illnesses across the globe. It’s typically characterized by feelings of low self-worth, hopelessness, and a lack of motivation—all of which can severely affect your day-to-day functioning. Some may be able to go through the motions, while others may experience a much more debilitating effect on their life.

Potential Causes of Depression

  • Traumatic experiences

  • Family history of clinical depression

  • Major life events/changes

  • Serious medical illnesses

  • Social isolation

  • Biological differences

Symptoms of Depression

  • Loss of interest

  • Feelings of sadness and hopelessness

  • Problems sleeping or sleeping too much

  • Fatigue and trouble concentrating

  • Irritability

  • Suicidal thoughts

  • Pain with no physical cause

About Anxiety

Anxiety occurs when a person’s fight-or-flight center of the brain activates. Feeling anxiety now and then is completely normal and healthy—it helps keep us safe in potentially dangerous situations! But it becomes an anxiety disorder when symptoms are persistent and overwhelming. For some, symptoms may persist without an identifiable cause. Others may develop unhealthy avoidance behaviors.

Potential Causes of Anxiety

  • Traumatic experiences

  • Family history of clinical anxiety

  • Stress from life events

  • Specific phobias

  • Separation anxiety

  • Biological differences

Symptoms of Anxiety

  • Feeling nervous, worried or restless

  • A sense of impending doom

  • Tense muscles

  • Racing heartbeat

  • Irritability

  • Trouble sleeping

  • Sweating and trembling

The Link Between Anxiety and Depression

You may have noticed that many of the causes and symptoms of depression and anxiety overlap, which can make it hard to identify if you have one or the other. That’s why it’s beneficial to seek the opinion of a professional. They’ll be able to look at the nuances and help you navigate what you’re experiencing.

Anxiety frequently leads to depression and vice versa. A person with anxiety might feel so debilitated by their panic attacks that they neglect their day-to-day responsibilities, leading to depression about perceived short-comings. Someone with depression might begin to feel anxiety because of their own self-doubts or social isolation.

These are just some examples of how anxiety and depression can feed into each other. Of course, the level of interaction can vary depending on the person. Perhaps you experience 80% depression and 20% anxiety, or maybe it feels like an even split.

When it comes to figuring out if you’re experiencing both anxiety and depression, these are some common shared symptoms to look out for:

  • Loss of interest in previously enjoyable activities

  • Tiredness or fatigue

  • Major changes in eating habits

  • Trouble falling asleep or staying asleep

  • Short temper and irritability

  • Unexplainable pain, like stomach aches or headaches

  • Panic attacks

One thing that both of these disorders have in common is that they can improve with treatment. Counseling, and sometimes medication, can be extremely effective in treating your symptoms. But there are also steps you can take on your own, like exercising, journaling, reaching out to loved ones, and doing breathing exercises.

Most importantly, you don’t have to deal with anxiety and/or depression on your own. Reach out today to learn how you can cope and improve your quality of life.

For more information on anxiety treatment and depression treatment, follow the links!


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