It’s not uncommon for people to regard depression and anxiety as separate issues. After all, depression is frequently viewed as a low-energy state, while anxiety is seen as an issue of having too much energy. In practice, however, it’s difficult to separate anxiety and depression, particularly when it comes to treatment and healing.
Do Anxiety and Depression Go Together?
Many people approach anxiety and depression as separate issues. When you look at the characteristics our society has come to typify the two emotional states, depression and anxiety seem to be at odds. Anxiety is often associated with feelings of tension, hyperactivity, or nervousness, while many relate malaise, inactivity, and low energy to depression.
The reality of the situation is that many individuals struggle with both anxiety and depression at the same time. When an individual experiences anxiety and depression simultaneously, the two emotional states often feed into each other, with anxiety driving depressive states and depression creating new sources of stress. When a feedback loop takes root, waves of depression and anxiety begin to compound and usually only improve after an individual reaches out for help.
If you or someone you care about is seeking help for mental issues related to either anxiety or depression, it’s critical to understand how the two emotional states interact and how they can be treated. At PCH Treatment Center, we almost always see the two go hand in hand.
What Causes Anxiety?
Like depression, anxiety isn’t caused by one specific factor. Instead, multiple factors predispose an individual to experiencing heightened levels of anxiety, including:
- A history of psychological trauma
- Stress overload
- Poor self-esteem
- Personality issues
Certain individuals may be born with more sensitive, anxious dispositions, while others may model highly anxious parents. Several other risk factors can contribute to the onset of intense anxiety, including:
- Chronic insomnia
- High levels of stress
- Substance abuse
- Medical problems
- Relationship issues
When left untreated or when these risk factors are ignored, chronic anxiety frequently manifests as depression.
What Causes Depression?
Depression is often linked to a history of traumatic events. The anxiety an individual feels about those events and the associated trauma is often a significant driver for depressive feelings. When individuals come to us for depression treatment, they commonly suffer from anxieties and trauma, the source of which must be identified and resolved in order to move forward with recovery. Not surprisingly then, many depression treatment programs aren’t successful when they fail to account for past trauma and the anxiety driving the depression.
The Result: Compounding Waves of Depression and Anxiety
When chronic anxiety feeds into depression, an individual’s thought patterns often create feedback loops. The more depressed one feels, the more anxious they feel about overcoming or getting rid of the unpleasant emotional state. When they can’t control their thoughts and feelings, they feel more anxious about the apparent hopelessness of the situation, further feeding into depression. When a feedback loop between depression and anxiety exists, individuals frequently require guidance and treatment to develop the emotional stability to identify, treat, and heal underlying trauma.
Symptoms of Co-Occurring Anxiety and Depression
An individual may be struggling with both anxiety and depression when:
- They regularly struggle with irrational fears or anxieties that don’t go away.
- They experience prolonged feelings of sadness, worthlessness, or loss of control.
- They are unable to relax, enjoy life, or pursue past interests.
- They have a hard time maintaining healthy eating and sleeping habits.
- They suffer from ongoing panic attacks.
Treatment Options for Anxiety Associated With Depression
If you or someone you care about are struggling with co-occurring feelings of depression and anxiety, there are several treatment options worth exploring. At PCH, we most frequently recommend:
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)
Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) helps clients cultivate a more positive mindset to approach life situations in the past, present, and future. It gives clients the tools to control their anxiety by changing their thought and behavior patterns, thereby helping them deal with depressive thoughts.
Psychodynamic psychotherapy, or psychoanalytic psychotherapy, focuses on the psychological origins of emotional suffering. Its cornerstones are self-reflection and self-examination. The relationship between therapist and patient is used as a window into problematic relationship patterns in the patient’s life. The therapy examines early and important life events and aims to bring repressed thoughts and emotions into consciousness, exploring how they affect current decision-making, behavior, and relationships.
Many individuals who come to us for treatment are overmedicated, mismedicated, or misdiagnosed. As a result, the medications they are taking may not be delivering the intended effects. That’s why it’s critical to ensure a correct diagnosis so that the medication regimen matches the diagnosis and, more importantly, facilitates improvement.
Physical exercise is beneficial for improving overall mood, aiding in relaxation, and establishing healthier physical and mental habits. Several research studies have shown that aerobic exercise is as potent as antidepressant medication in alleviating the symptoms of depression.
Holistic Life Improvement Techniques
We also find anxiety and depression treatment is more effective when supplemented by holistic life improvement activities like:
- Art and art therapy
- Music therapy
By finding fulfillment in self-expression, individuals adopt new ways of looking at the world while building the skills to cope with trauma and emotions as they move forward with treatment.
Seeking Answers or Ready for Help?
If you still have questions about the relationship between depression and anxiety or you’re ready for guidance on how to move forward with life while dealing with both, reach out to the specialists at PCH today. We can help you better understand the underlying links between anxiety and depression and explore why previous treatment experiences may not have accounted for these links.