The Relationship Between Depression and Anxiety

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Depression and anxiety are two of the most common mental health conditions. In the year 2017, there were 264 million people living with depression and 284 million living with anxiety disorders globally. There are distinct symptoms for each of these conditions, but there is also a link between them. Here we provide an overview of the symptoms of depression and anxiety, and how they influence each other.

Symptoms of Depression

Depression is a serious mental health disorder marked by these symptoms:

  • Losing interest in activities that you used to enjoy
  • Feeling sad most of the time
  • Feeling worthless or guilty
  • Having trouble with focus, memory, and decision making
  • Sleeping too much or too little
  • Feeling tired or lacking energy throughout the day
  • Feeling restless, agitated, or irritable
  • Gaining or losing weight
  • Thinking about death or having suicidal thoughts

Learn more about depression.

Symptoms of Anxiety

Anxiety can take many different forms, such as social anxiety or panic disorder. Here are some common symptoms of an anxiety disorder:

  • Excessively worrying, often about irrational things
  • Unable to control your thoughts
  • Feeling restless and agitated
  • Trouble falling or staying asleep
  • Tense or aching muscles
  • Difficulty concentrating

Learn more about anxiety disorders.

The Connection Between Depression and Anxiety

Although they are distinct mental health disorders, anxiety and depression often occur together. The rate of people with both depression and anxiety is about 40 to 50 percent. When two conditions occur together, they are said to be “comorbid” or have a “high comorbidity.” This simply means having one of the disorders or conditions makes a person more likely to suffer from the other condition.

Can Depression Cause Anxiety?

Depression and anxiety have a cyclic relationship. If someone experiences the symptoms of depression, that may lead to anxiety over the way they’re feeling. Or an individual might feel anxious much of the time, and, when this constant state of worrying begins negatively impacting their daily life or relationships, can lead them to feel depressed.

If you’re wondering whether one disorder triggered another one, it’s difficult to know for sure. People may develop depression first and then anxiety afterwards (or vice versa), and this can make it seem like one caused the other. In reality, the causes of mental health disorders are complex and varied. However, it’s possible for an untreated anxiety disorder or depression to lead to other complications, including additional mental health disorders or substance abuse.

Risk Factors for Depression and Anxiety

Anxiety and depression share many of the same risk factors, such as genetics, environmental stressors, and traumatic experiences. Someone who has an anxiety disorder is at increased risk of depression.

Treatment Options for Anxiety and Depression

Although anxiety and depression can be disruptive and even make it hard to function, there are effective treatments available. You may use therapy, medication, or a combination of both.

Therapy for Anxiety and Depression

There are many different types of therapy that can be used to treat anxiety or depression alone. When both disorders are present, you may need to use a variety of these methods. Here are some types of therapy that work well for anxiety and depression:

  • Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT)
  • Dialectical behavior therapy (DBT)
  • Acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT)
  • Psychoanalytic therapy
  • Interpersonal therapy

There are also therapies designed for anxiety, such as exposure therapy, and techniques that are effective for depression, like behavioral activation. You may find it helpful to incorporate some extra therapeutic techniques into your treatment plan.

Medication for Anxiety and Depression

Sometimes, medication is necessary to effectively manage your depression and anxiety. There are a variety of prescription drugs that are designed to treat each condition.

Here are some drugs used to treat anxiety:

  • Benzodiazepines (Xanax, Valium, Ativan, Klonopin, Librium)
  • Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, or SSRIs (Zoloft, Prozac, Paxil, Lexapro)
  • Tricyclics (Anafranil, Tofranil)
  • Monoamine oxidase inhibitors, or MAOIs (Marplan, Nardil, Emsam, Parnate)

Some of the same drugs are also effective for depression, like SSRIs and MAOIs. Here are other medications that work well for treating depression:

  • Serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors, or SNRIs (Pristiq, Khedezla, Cymbalta, Fetzima, Effexor XR)
  • Tricyclic antidepressants, or TCAs (Anafranil, Norpramin, Tofranil, Pamelor, Surmontil)
  • Tetracyclic antidepressant (Maprotiline)
  • Dopamine reuptake blocker (Wellbutrin, Forfivo, Aplenzin)
  • Noradrenergic antagonist (Remeron)
  • 5-HT1A receptor antagonist (Viibryd)
  • 5-HT2 receptor antagonists (Nefazodone and Trazodone)
  • 5-HT3 receptor antagonist (Brintellix)

Although you can talk to your primary care doctor about medications for anxiety and depression, you may need to see a psychiatrist specializing in the conditions. Psychiatrists are experienced in medications specifically for mental health disorders and may have more specialized knowledge than a general practitioner.

Treatment for Anxiety and Depression at High Focus Centers

At High Focus Centers, our clinicians, therapists, and staff work closely with individuals living with a range of mental health disorders – including anxiety and depression. Contact us today to learn more about our adult and teen mental health treatment programs. Get in touch and have a friendly, non-judgmental conversation with our team. Start your path to a healthier life today!

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