Research has shown a strong link between anxiety disorders and depression. More than one half of people diagnosed with depression also have an anxiety disorder and those with an anxiety disorder have a high incident rate of also being diagnosed with depression. In some cases, depression can lead to anxiety or anxiety can lead to depression. In other cases, these are separate disorders, both occurring simultaneously. The World Health Organization (WHO) depression, anxiety and other mood disorders are the most prevalent causes of chronic illness.
A study completed at the University of Western Ontario showed a biological connection between these two disorders. According to the study, stress reactions in the brain also create changes that can lead to depression. Therefore, the researchers believe, stressful events can lead to both anxiety and depression, which is why both disorders so often occur together.
Symptoms of Anxiety and Depression
But there are symptoms unique to each disorder as well.
The main symptoms of depression are feeling sad or hopeless, losing interest in activities you once enjoyed, lacking motivation and a general feeling of disinterest in life.
The main symptoms of anxiety are feelings of worry, feeling apprehensive, anticipating worse outcomes, restlessness, always watching out for danger and feeling tense.
It is sometimes hard to know whether you need to seek professional help when coping with a mood disorder or anxiety. After all, everyone feels down sometime and everyone gets nervous. The following are some guidelines for when you should talk with a doctor about how you are feeling:
- If your level of anxiety or nervousness is interfering with your ability to function or carry out daily activities. For example, does your anxiety interfere with your ability to do your job or complete your school work?
- If your symptoms of anxiety or depression have lasted more than two weeks.
- If symptoms of anxiety or depression are interfering with or stopping you from having a relationship.
- If you are having persistent physical problems along with emotional distress, such as headaches, stomach problems or chronic pain.
- If you are feeling hopeless or having feelings of wanting to hurt yourself.
If you are wondering if it is time to see a doctor, then it probably is. It is always better to talk with a medical professional than to ignore symptoms that can be helped.
Both anxiety and depression are treatable disorders and many of the treatments are the same.
Antidepressants are often used to treat both anxiety and depression and cognitive behavioral therapy has been found to be helpful in reducing symptoms of both disorders. However, because both depression and anxiety show up differently in each person, treatment plans should be specific to your symptoms and tailored around your individual needs.
In addition to cognitive behavioral therapy, some people with depression and anxiety find working with a therapist to find ways to cope with symptoms and to have someone to talk to helps. This type of therapy is often referred to as talk-therapy.
"Anxiety Attacks and Disorders," Reviewed 2010, Dec, Melinda Smith, M.A. and Jeanne Segal, Ph.D. HelpGuide.org
"Biological Link Between Stress, Anxiety and Depression Identified," 2010, Apr 19, Staff Writer, Science Daily
"What is the Relationship Between Depression and Anxiety?" 2008, Feb 28, David Brendel, M.D., ABCnews
Published On: May 31, 2011