How To Cope With Anxiety And Depression
Anxiety and depression often go hand in hand. Heres what you need to know if they strike simultaneously.
Do you sometimes worry so much that it interferes with your everyday activities? Or feel so blue that it completely clouds your outlook? Do you often experience these or similar feelings together? Youre not the only one.
According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America , anxiety disorders which include generalized anxiety disorder, panic disorder, and social anxiety disorder are the most common mental health problem among U.S. adults, affecting 18.1 percent of the population each year. And mood disorders which include major depressive disorder, bipolar disorder, and seasonal affective disorder are the leading cause of disability.
Moreover, the incidence of developing depression in addition to an anxiety disorder or vice versa is high. Many people with major depression also suffer from severe and persistent anxiety, notes Sally R. Connolly, LCSW, in Louisville, Kentucky. And some experts estimate that 60 percent of people with anxiety will also have symptoms of depression, according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness .
Actions For This Page
- Anxiety and depression in men are common, and effective, evidence-based treatments are available.
- Anxiety and depression are mental health conditions, not weaknesses.
- Taking action may seem difficult but help and support is readily available.
- Its important to seek support for anxiety and depression early the sooner the better.
- With the right treatment, most people recover from anxiety and depression.
Symptoms Of Major Depression
- sleep disturbance
- muscle tension.
If youve experienced these symptoms most days for more than six months, and they cause distress in your daily life, then you may receive a diagnosis of generalized anxiety disorder. Other types of anxiety disorders include separation anxiety, panic disorder, or phobias, among others.
If you compare the two lists of symptoms, you can see that there is some overlap. Sleep problems, trouble concentrating, and fatigue are all symptoms of both anxiety and depression. Irritability may also manifest in forms of anxiety or depression .
There are however, some distinguishing features. People with depression move slowly, and their reactions can seem flattened or dulled. People with anxiety tend to be more keyed up, as they struggle to manage their racing thoughts. Another distinguishing feature is the presence of fear about the future in people with anxiety. Depressed people who do not have anxiety are less likely to be fraught with worry about future events, as they are often resigned to believing that things will continue to be bad. In other words, they may predict the future based on how they feel in the moment.
Recommended Reading: What Are Some Names Of Anxiety Pills
The Effects Of Anxiety On The Body
Anxiety is a normal part of life. For example, you may have felt anxiety before addressing a group or in a job interview.
In the short term, anxiety increases your breathing and heart rate, concentrating blood flow to your brain, where you need it. This very physical response is preparing you to face an intense situation.
If it gets too intense, however, you might start to feel lightheaded and nauseous. An excessive or persistent state of anxiety can have a devastating effect on your physical and mental health.
Anxiety disorders can happen at any stage of life, but they usually begin by middle age. Women are more likely to have an anxiety disorder than men, says the National Institute of Mental Health .
Stressful life experiences may increase your risk for an anxiety disorder, too. Symptoms may begin immediately or years later. Having a serious medical condition or a substance use disorder can also lead to an anxiety disorder.
There are several types of anxiety disorders. They include:
What Are The Treatments For Depression
Many helpful treatments for depression are available. Treatment for depression can help reduce symptoms and shorten how long the depression lasts. Treatment can include getting therapy and/or taking medications. Your doctor or a qualified mental health professional can help you determine what treatment is best for you.
- Therapy. Many people benefit from psychotherapyalso called therapy or counseling.7,8 Most therapy lasts for a short time and focuses on thoughts feelings and issues that are happening in your life now. In some cases understanding your past can help but finding ways to address what is happening in your life now can help you cope and prepare you for challenges in the future.With therapy, youll work with your therapist to learn skills to help you cope with life, change behaviors that are causing problems and find solutions. Do not feel shy or embarrassed about talking openly and honestly about your feelings and concerns. This is an important part of getting better.Some common goals of therapy include:
- Getting healthier
- Making sense of past painful events
- Identifying things that worsen your depression
- Having better relationships with family and friends
- Understanding why something bothers you and creating a plan to deal with it
Also Check: How Can I Fall Asleep With Anxiety
You Feel Like You Have A Broken Record In Your Head
If you cant finish your work because youre constantly thinking about the last conversation between you and your ex or the fight you had with your mom three weeks ago, that could be a sign youre ruminating and developing negative thought patterns. This could surface as repetitive self-criticism, too, like thinking, I have the worst luck in the world nothing good ever happens to me I am such a screw-up and failure, on a loop.
In these instances, its worth exploring with a professional why youre hung up on one negative interaction or thought, and learning how to process it in a healthy way so you can let it go and move on. One-time or sporadic thoughts dont indicate a need for therapy, says Daksha Arora, PhD, a therapist at Serene Therapy Center in Maryland. But thoughts that are persistent or frequent, create stress, or interfere with your functioning indicate a need for therapy.
Recognizing The Signs High
The signs of high-functioning anxiety and depression can get hidden within seemingly reasonable justifications. Even though one might be holding down a job, going to school, or in a healthy relationship, he or she experiences disruptions in life activities that may not be necessarily obvious. Some of these hidden disruptions can be seen in behaviors such as declining social invitations with the excuse that work has been busy or stressful, sleeping more or sleeping less, and an overreliance on coping mechanisms like excessive exercise, overeating, or overindulging in alcohol or illicit substances.
Other signs of high-functioning anxiety or depression are:
- Pervasive self-criticism
- Excessive worry or guilt over past or future decisions
- An Inability slow down or to feel real joy
The symptoms of high-functioning anxiety and depression, like other forms of anxiety and depression, only get worse over time when not treated.
Also Check: How To Know If You Have Stress Or Anxiety
How Are Adhd And Anxiety Connected
- ADHD can mimic anxiety
- Anxiety can occur at the same time as ADHD, but develop independently
- Anxiety can be caused by ADHD
ADHD and anxiety also share some of the same symptoms, which can make it difficult to tell the two conditions apart. Restlessness and difficulty relaxing, as well as difficult focusing or concentrating can be symptoms of both anxiety and ADHD.
About 50 percent of adults with ADHD also have an anxiety disorder. Like with depression, anxiety can develop alongside ADHD or it can be caused by ADHD. ADHD can cause anxiety, for example, when risk-taking behaviors lead to poor outcomes, such as financial problems, problems at work or relationship issues. The impulsiveness associated with ADHD can also lead to negative outcomes that can be overwhelming and lead to anxiety.
Treatment Options If You Have Anxiety:
Wondering how to deal with anxiety? The following treatment methods can help you deal with your anxiety symptoms:
- Medication: Medication alone is not often a cure for anxiety disorders, but it can help with many symptoms. Prescription medication commonly used to treat anxiety disorders may include anti-anxiety drugs, antidepressants, or beta-blockers. Choosing the right medication can take time and needs to be done under the guidance of your psychiatrist.
- Psychotherapy: Psychotherapy, also known as talk therapy, has been proven effective for people with anxiety disorders. Psychotherapy is directed at your specific anxieties, and its customized to improve your individual needs and goals for therapy. Cognitive-behavioral therapy is one type of psychotherapy thats often used to treat anxiety disorders. Through CBT, you learn how to change your thinking and behavior.
- Support groups: Support groups can be beneficial for some people with anxiety disorders, but this option alone may not be enough.
- Stress management and relaxation techniques: Relaxation techniques like meditation, yoga, journaling are all great ways to help ease anxiety. Exercise and healthy sleep patterns are other potential options that have shown great success. Again, these techniques by themselves may not be adequate treatment. When used in combination with psychotherapy and/or medication, however, they might be very helpful.
Recommended Reading: How To Stop Chronic Anxiety
What Causes Depression
Current research suggests that depression is caused by a combination of genetic, biological, environmental and psychological factors. While it may occur at any age, it often begins in adulthood. As with many anxiety disorders, depression in children and adolescents may present itself as irritability more than low mood.4
As mentioned above, depression is often spawned from an anxiety disorder left untreated.
Talking To Your Doctor
If you have anxiety, depression, or both, chances are that your doctor will recommend medication, therapy, or a combination of the two. Keep track your symptoms and keep a log of how you feel each day, as this can help in the diagnostic process. Its also important to speak up and ask your doctor whether they think you have depression, anxiety, or both. This clarity can help you understand the treatment focus and how to manage your symptoms. For example, a patient who is prescribed an antidepressant like a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor may not realize that the medication has been prescribed for their anxiety, as SSRIs are used to treat both anxiety and depression.4 Never hesitate to ask about your diagnosis, as you have a right to your personal health information.
The most important quality that anxiety and depression share is that they are both very treatable conditions. Never hesitate to find people to help you stayed informed and on the right track towards a healthier mind and body. Who can you recruit to help you with your anxiety or depression today?
What Can I Do To Manage My Symptoms
You can learn to manage your symptoms by looking after yourself. Selfcare is how you take care of your diet, sleep, exercise, daily routine, relationships and how you are feeling.
Making small lifestyle changes can improve your wellbeing and can help your recovery.
Routine helps many people with their mental wellbeing. It will help to give a structure to your day and may give you a sense of purpose. This could be a simple routine such as eating at the same time each day, going to bed at the same time each day and buying food once per week.
Breathing exercises can help to calm you when you are feeling anxious. Or having a panic attack. You will get the most benefit if you do them regularly, as part of your daily routine.
There is more information about breathing exercises in the further reading section at the bottom of this page.
You could join a support group. A support group is where people come together to share information, experiences and give each other support.
You might be able to find a local group by searching online. The charity Bipolar UK have an online support group. They also have face to face support groups in some areas of the country. Their contact details are in the useful contacts at the bottom of this page.
Rethink Mental Illness have support groups in some areas. You can find out what is available in your area if you follow this link:
How It Feels To Have Anxiety And Depression At The Same Time
Depression and anxiety each have their own sets of symptoms and challenges. And as if living with one of the conditions isnt frustrating enough, research also shows that its not unusual to experience the two of them simultaneously.
Unfortunately, having both anxiety and depression together is not an uncommon thing nearly half of those diagnosed with one are also diagnosed with the other, said Chad Perman, a licensed marriage and family therapist in Bellevue, Washington.
Both mental health conditions can be managed through therapy, medication or both. But while treatment makes it entirely possible to live a healthy, fulfilling life, that doesnt make the experience any less valid or challenging at times.
HuffPost reached out to people living with both depression and anxiety as well as experts who treat the conditions to explain how it really feels to live with them on a daily basis. Take a look at them below.
Don’t Miss: Can You Have Anxiety While Sleeping
How To Get Help With Depression And Anxiety
If all this sounds way too familiar, then you shouldnt bear it alone. In fact, youre not alone. According to the American Psychological Association, men are four times more likely to commit suicide than women. Men are more likely to hide their feelings and turn to drugs and alcohol as a way to cope.
Related: 10 Ways Booze Makes Depression Worse
You shouldnt lose hope and you shouldnt try to cope with failing mental health on your own. Its not a sign of weakness to talk to a counsellor, therapist or mental health practitioner. Some treatments dont even involve medication.
In over 100 documented case studies, cognitive behaviour therapy was found to be equally as effective as medication for treating depression and anxiety.
Part of what a CBT therapist or counsellor does is help you create a dialog between what youre thinking in your head and how you feel in your heart. The goal is not to produce a good feeling or 100% happy thoughts, but to create a sense of balance that you can manage.
Related:5 Good Coping Skills for Anxiety