How Can I Understand the Complex Relationship Between My Depression and Anxiety Symptoms?

How Can I Understand the Complex Relationship Between My Depression and Anxiety Symptoms?

When we experience depression and anxiety symptoms together, it can feel like the weight of the world is closing in on us. That is not a mixed metaphor. Rather, it illustrates how hard it can be to describe the way these symptoms can feel claustrophobic and weigh so heavily upon us. 

As a society, we rarely consider conditions like depression and anxiety connected. After all, depression is a condition of intense, prolonged sadness often characterized by lethargy. Anxiety seems to be the polar opposite, characterized by feelings of intense worry and hyperactivity in both physical movement and thought processing.

Still, these two illnesses are comorbid, meaning that depression and anxiety symptoms often occur together. So, if these two illnesses are so different in their presentation, how does their symptomatology overlap? 

The Lows and Highs of Co-Occurring Depression and Anxiety Symptoms

For those struggling with comorbid depression and anxiety symptoms, their lives can feel like a rollercoaster of emotion. Each day can involve many swings between hyperactive worry and lethargic sadness. So how can these very different conditions coexist? 

It is important to understand that these conditions fuel one another. Worrying about our problems can lead to depression. However, if we are depressed, we feel reduced motivation to effectively persevere beyond our problems. This can lead back to anxiety, concerning our inability to fix real or perceived issues in our lives. It can feel like a rollercoaster of emotions commonly expressed as depression and mania.

Depression and mania may be opposites in the way they affect an individual, however, both are treated similarly.  These two conditions both require psychotherapy and can be managed with the use of medications as well as social support and lifestyle changes. 

What Is Major Depression?

To understand how these illnesses might exist together, let’s first understand what each condition is on its own. Depression is more than sadness. Clinically, we say that someone who is psychiatrically depressed has major depression, or major depressive disorder (MDD). To be diagnosed with major depression, an individual must experience their symptoms for a continuous period of more than two weeks. 

More than that, symptoms of major depression should exist in the individual every day during that period of time. Otherwise, symptoms are considered to be in remission. At least two symptoms of major depression should be present for two weeks or longer. Some of the symptoms of major depression include:

  • Depressed, sad mood
  • Changes in sleep patterns including difficulty in falling asleep or staying asleep
  • Fatigue and lethargy
  • Declines in memory and decision making
  • Loss of interest in usual activities
  • Becoming irate or anxious 

What Is Anxiety?

Did you notice the last symptom we listed of major depression? Becoming irate or anxious without any one definable cause sounds like it might be describing anxiety! Thus, anxiety can also be a symptom of depression. Furthermore, anxiety can also be a comorbid condition that exists simultaneously with depression. 

Symptoms of anxiety may indicate the presence of an anxiety disorder, but that hardly begins to describe what anxiety truly is. It is an umbrella term that describes a great number of disorders and uncomfortable symptoms. Those who have anxiety may be excessively worried, feel like they are on pins and needles, breathe quickly and even hyperventilate, and find themselves in a constant state of hyperactivity.

Psychological experts have identified several types of anxiety disorders. Some of these include:

  • Generalized anxiety disorder (GAD): This is the most broad of the disorders, and the most common. It is characterized by intense worry and anxiety that interferes with a person’s ability to live their life.
  • Panic disorder (PD): This anxiety disorder is characterized by frequent panic attacks. 
  • Social anxiety disorder (SAD): This anxiety disorder is characterized by intense fears about people or social interactions with others. This can inform isolation and ongoing feelings of loneliness. 
  • Phobias: A phobia is an intense and irrational fear of a specific object or subject. There are five types of classified phobias: animal phobias, environmental phobias, blood and injury phobias, situational phobias, and miscellaneous phobias. 

Treating Depression and Anxiety Symptoms at the Same Time

If depression and anxiety can occur at the same time and share similar symptoms, can they be treated together? Yes, in fact, they can. Not only that, you would be surprised at how similar the treatments are. From intensive outpatient programs to cognitive-behavioral therapies, there are several evidence-based treatments for a dual diagnosis of anxiety and depression.

IOP and CBT for Depression and Anxiety Symptoms

The intensive outpatient program (IOP) at Alter Wellness Care allows our clients to thrive in their daily lives while spending a great deal of time in an intensive treatment program. We understand that depression and anxiety are complex disorders that require careful solutions.

Moreover, our IOP provides our clients who experience depression and anxiety symptoms together with a comprehensive program and the support they need. We offer a wide range of evidence-based therapies with proven results. Psychotherapy allows clients to gain confidence, and the outpatient program allows clients to face their fears and anxieties in the real world as part of their treatment. 

One of the primary ways we treat depression and anxiety symptoms is through cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT). CBT is a type of psychotherapy in which clients work through negative thought patterns and learn to challenge that catastrophic thinking, leading to the eradication of intrusive thoughts. 

Depression and anxiety are interwound, but Alter Wellness Care can help you untangle yourself and leave the grasp of these conditions behind you. Let us help you seek the peace you’ve always wanted to find. 

Depression and anxiety symptoms can wreak havoc on our ability to lead our lives and interfere with our daily routines. Although they may seem like opposite conditions, depression and anxiety can co-occur. Fortunately, the treatment for both depression and anxiety are similar. No matter the circumstances, it is important that you seek treatment for your co-occurring disorders simultaneously. Alter Wellness Care’s intensive outpatient program allows you to learn how to overcome your depression and anxiety in a real-world environment. You may also find solace in medication and cognitive-behavioral therapy. Call Alter Wellness Care today at (866) 311-3510 to discuss what treatments for comorbid depression and anxiety may be right for you. 

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