Unhappy Together: Depression and Anxiety

When I was hospitalized in December 2018 I was diagnosed with both Generalized Anxiety Disorder and Depression. Depression about my anxiety had me feeling hopeless.

You may hear the terms anxiety and depression used interchangeably. While they are very different symptomatically they can and often do co-occur, which has been my experience that perhaps you or a loved one can relate to as well. Further, as an article by Everyday Health cites that “People who are depressed often feel anxious and worried, so one can trigger the other…anxiety often comes before depression.”

In the simplest of terms my anxiety disorder caused me to be depressed. Waking up with a sense of dread about how awful anxiety will feel that day has a way of making someone feel depressed. Fortunately awareness about the two has increased.

There is a lot of info out there about the differences and similarities between anxiety and depression so we won’t go into much detail here. Below is info about each condition from the National Alliance on Mental Issues (NAMI):

Anxiety Disorders

Anxiety disorders consist of persistent, excessive fear or worry in situations that are not threatening. People typically experience one or more of the following symptoms:

Emotional symptoms:

  • Feelings of apprehension or dread
  • Feeling tense or jumpy
  • Restlessness or irritability
  • Anticipating the worst and being watchful for signs of danger

Physical symptoms:

  • Pounding or racing heart and shortness of breath
  • Sweating, tremors and twitches
  • Headaches, fatigue and insomnia
  • Upset stomach, frequent urination or diarrhea

Depressive Disorders

Depressive disorder, frequently referred to simply as depression, is more than just feeling sad or going through a rough patch. To be diagnosed with depressive disorder, a person must have experienced a depressive episode lasting longer than two weeks. The symptoms of a depressive episode include:

  • Loss of interest or loss of pleasure in all activities
  • Change in appetite or weight 
  • Sleep disturbances
  • Feeling agitated or feeling slowed down
  • Fatigue
  • Feelings of low self-worth, guilt or shortcomings
  • Difficulty concentrating or making decisions
  • Suicidal thoughts or intentions

Since depression and anxiety often show up together the double-punch can be overwhelming to say the least. What I found that helps the most is compassion, understanding, and treatment programs that focus on psychotherapy. It may not feel like it but I know one thing: There is Hope.

Advertisements