Can Depression and Anxiety Co-Occur?
Depression and anxiety are two distinctly different disorders. Depression is characterized by feelings of extreme sadness and hopelessness while anxiety involves being worried or nervous. People can be depressed without anxiety, just as they can have anxiety without being depressed. Many times, the disorders co-occur.
When you suffer from both anxiety and depression, your symptoms may become more severe. Relationships become strained, you start to have trouble at work, and you feel like your life’s spinning out of control, and it seems as though there’s nothing you can do to stop it.
Which Comes First?
When you have coexisting depression and anxiety, it’s possible one caused the other. When you’re always anxious, worrying about the things that could go wrong, it can lead to depression. When you’re depressed, always feeling sad, you worry about things not changing, and these concerns increase your anxiety. Sometimes depression and anxiety are so intermingled; it feels as though they’ve both always been there.
It doesn’t matter which came first. What matters is that both get treated. If one of the disorders is more debilitating than the other, efforts should be focused on it. But there are many options, such as cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and learning better coping mechanisms, which can treat both depression and anxiety.
Avoidance is a common problem for people suffering from anxiety and depression. Instead of facing their fears, they avoid situations that make them nervous and uncomfortable. When the disorders become severe, they may go to extreme measures, such as not going to the grocery store or quitting their job, so that they don’t have to deal with their fears.
There’s way to lessen this fear. By preparing for situations and going through the scenarios, people learn that the anxiety they feel is unjustified and that they are capable of succeeding, boosting self-esteem and lowering the symptoms of depression. By facing the uncomfortable, new coping skills are developed, and the fear is disabled.
Learning New Strategies
Learning new coping strategies to stop negative thoughts shows significant improvement for people with both depression and anxiety. By learning new cognitive skills, such as positive self-talk, and improving self-esteem, many can overcome these issues. Improving problem solving, communication and social skills also help people divert their anxiety, and, therefore, lower their depression.
Life Changes for Healing
There are things you can change, things within your control, that can help you beat depression and anxiety. Implementing a fitness routine in your life has been proven to lower both depression and anxiety and help you start to feel better. Regular exercise not only improves your health but increases the levels of certain neurotransmitters in the brain. These neurotransmitters, serotonin, and norepinephrine, are the same two chemicals most anti-depressants work to increase, as they elevate the mood and increase feelings of wellbeing. Exercise also releases endorphins, the body’s natural painkillers, which give you a sense of euphoria.
Learning relaxation techniques, such as yoga and meditation, also improve the symptoms of depression and anxiety. These practices teach you breathing techniques and ways to be in the moment. This mindfulness is known to improve mood, reduce stress, and leave you feeling light and carefree.
You Can Get Better
Depression and anxiety are treatable. Although you feel like there’s no hope, there is. Through a combination of lifestyle changes, therapy, and maybe even medication, you can gain control over your depression and anxiety and learn to live life joyfully.