Depression and anxiety are sometimes confused. In fact, I have noticed that people come to me and say that they have depression but upon evaluation, I find out that it is something else. While depression and anxiety are different medical conditions, they share similarities. The symptoms, causes, and treatments of depression and anxiety can overlap. It’s also not unusual for people to suffer from both depression and anxiety.
HOW DEPRESSION AND ANXIETY FEEL:
When we have depression, everything can feel very muted and dull. We often feel very low and sad. We cry easily. It feels as if one has no energy, drive, and motivation. Everything can feel much slowed down, including our thoughts and reactions to things.
When we have anxiety, everything can feel much heightened. We often feel very jittery and on edge. Our thoughts can speed up and it can feel as though our reactions to everything can feel very extreme.
The Difference Between Depression And Anxiety
While these initial descriptions seem distinct, depression and anxiety do share some symptoms. Issues like irritability, nervousness, noise sensitivity arise with both conditions. Problems with concentration, eating and sleep can come with both depression and anxiety.
While these symptoms can feel like, they may present themselves for different reasons. With noise sensitivity, someone with depression might need absolute quiet. They might find that even the tiniest sounds feel incredibly loud. With anxiety, it could be that our thoughts are already so loud that adding in another noise can tip us over the edge.
WHEN DEPRESSION AND ANXIETY OVERLAP:
Sometimes the symptoms of depression and anxiety can feed into each other.
As an example: depression can cause low mood and low energy, which makes it hard to leave the house. When do eventually come to leave the house, we feel really anxious and panicky. We might worry about not having the energy to complete our trip, or about seeing someone we know and having an awkward conversation. These anxieties might prevent us from going out, further contributing to our low mood and feelings of isolation.
In cases like this, it’s hard to know whether our symptoms are depression or anxiety based because they are so interlinked and it is best to let the psychiatrist evaluate it. If depression has been present for a while and remains untreated anxiety may generate as to why is it not getting well and vice versa.
WHAT CAUSES DEPRESSION AND ANXIETY:
There isn’t a single, straightforward cause for either depression or anxiety. Life events can trigger both. Stress, low self-esteem, and long-term physical health conditions can play a part. Our genes can also contribute to our likelihood of developing either condition.
There’s still a lot of research to do about the biology of depression and anxiety. However, it’s thought that imbalances in our brain chemicals can contribute to both.
Evidence suggests that low levels of serotonin and dopamine can contribute to depression. Norepinephrinecan also plays a part in depression, though research varies. There’s some evidence that low levels of norepinephrine contribute to depression. But some depressed people show hyperactivity within the neurons producing norepinephrine.
It’s thought that an imbalance of serotonin and norepinephrine causes anxiety. Anxious people also show over activity in areas of the brain involved in emotions and behavior. However, no one particular chemical is responsible for causing both these conditions.
TREATMENT FOR DEPRESSION AND ANXIETY
Treatments for depression and anxiety vary, depending on our symptoms and circumstances. However medication and talking therapies are commonly offered for both.
Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is widely used for both anxiety and depression. Mindfulness can also help both conditions.
Some medications, such as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) are prescribed for both anxiety and depression. Similarly, serotonin and norepinephrine re uptake inhibitors are commonly used for the treatment of depression and different types of anxiety disorders.
Other medications, such as pregabalin or benzodiazapinesare only used for anxiety. Some other antidepressants are only prescribed for depression.
Whether we suffer from depression or anxiety – or both – help is available to us. We most commonly discuss our medical conditions with our general physicians hence in most of the cases help is readily available. However if you think that your condition is much more complicated, please don’t shy to visit a psychiatrist.
Depression and anxiety are both serious conditions. We don’t need to struggle alone. We deserve help, whatever difficulties we’re facing.