Although depression is commonly perceived as a low-energy state and anxiety as a high-energy state, anxiety and depression are more closely related than people believe. Inside, a depressive person frequently experiences a great deal of anxiety, which can even result in panic attacks.
Having panic attacks can be depressing in and of itself. Depression can be exacerbated by any lack of control over our circumstances.
The Relationship between Anxiety and Depression
Anxiety and depression disorders are not identical, despite having some similarities. Despair, despair, and rage are some of the emotions produced by depression. Depression is characterized by low energy levels and a feeling of being overwhelmed by the essential duties and relationships of daily life.
However, a person with an anxiety disorder experiences dread, panic, or anxiety in situations in which most people would not feel anxious or threatened. The individual may experience sudden panic or anxiety attacks without a discernible cause and frequently lives with persistent, nagging concern or anxiety. Anxiety and depression disorders can limit a person’s ability to work, sustain relationships, and even leave the house if not treated.
Treatments for anxiety and depression are comparable, which may explain why the two disorders are frequently conflated. Anxiety and depression are frequently treated with antidepressant medication, and behavioral therapy frequently assists patients in overcoming both conditions.
Why are anxiety and depression linked?
No one knows the precise reason why depression and anxiety frequently co-occur. In one study, 85% of patients with severe depression also exhibited symptoms of generalized anxiety disorder, and 35% exhibited symptoms of panic disorder. Other anxiety disorders include obsessive-compulsive disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Anxiety and depression are considered to be mood disorders’ fraternal twins due to their frequent co-occurrence.
Generalized anxiety, which is believed to be partially caused by a chemical imbalance in the brain, differs from the normal apprehension one experiences before taking a test or awaiting the results of a biopsy. The individual with an anxiety disorder experiences what President Franklin Roosevelt termed “fear itself.” Even when there is no actual danger, the brain’s fight-or-flight mechanism is activated for reasons that are only partially understood. Chronic anxiety is comparable to being pursued by an illusory tiger. The sensation of being in peril never disappears.
When Depression and Anxiety Occur Together
Being anxious and melancholy is a formidable obstacle. Clinicians have observed that when anxiety and depression occur concurrently, the symptoms of both disorders are more severe than when either disorder occurs alone. In addition, depression’s symptoms take longer to resolve, making the disease more chronic and resistant to treatment.
In conclusion, depression that is exacerbated by anxiety has a significantly greater suicide rate than depression alone. In one study, 92% of depressive patients who attempted suicide also suffered from extreme anxiety.1 Similar to alcohol and barbiturates, melancholy and anxiety are a lethal combination.
A more anxious hue of melancholy
To receive an official diagnosis of major depressive disorder, one must satisfy a number of symptomatic criteria. Consequently, various depressive profiles can exist, sometimes in striking contrast to one another. Anxious melancholy is one such suggested profile, with anxiety symptoms constituting one of its defining characteristics.
Anxious melancholy is typically applied to patients who have been diagnosed with depression in addition to anxiety symptoms. Many instances of major depression include anxiety symptoms, according to research.
In contrast, patients who have been formally diagnosed with both anxiety and depression would be considered to have comorbid anxiety and depression, not anxious depression.
The FDA has acknowledged that treatments such as Deep TMS can safely and effectively alleviate symptoms of apprehensive depression. Research on anxious depression suggests that this definition should be applied to cases where the diagnostic criteria for severe depression have been met, as well as the presence of subthreshold anxiety. Studies continue to recommend using the term comorbidity for cases where both anxiety and depression are diagnosed.
Symptoms of Major Depression and Anxiety Disorders Are Similar
Beyond its precise definition, anxious depression consists of the overlapping symptoms of anxiety and depression. Therefore, anxious depression is characterized by the anxiety symptoms included in the DSM definition of severe depression. Indeed, the following depressive symptoms are also present in anxiety disorders:
Depression can manifest as an inability to relax and let go of one’s concerns. In addition to its more extreme manifestations—nervousness, excessive worry, and feeling overwhelmed by one’s own concerns—anxiety frequently manifests as agitation.
Depression frequently results in sensations of lethargy, sluggishness, and an overall lack of energy. Despite the fact that anxiety is, at its core, a hyperarousal disorder, the effects of constant heightened vigilance can be quite draining.
Individuals may have difficulty falling asleep or staying unconscious if they have a depressed mood or persistently negative arousal. This can lead to fragmented or insufficient sleep, hypersomnia, or insomnia, all of which can significantly impair a person’s capacity to function.
Irritability. Frequently, children and adolescents with major depression display irritability rather than sorrow. This tendency to lash out and lose forbearance can also be a result of the hyperarousal associated with anxiety disorders.
Although less well-known than the emotive symptoms of depression, the (predominantly) mood disorder can also cause cognitive difficulties. Among these is an inability to concentrate, as depressed patients are more easily distracted. Patients with anxiety have also reported concentration difficulties, as their heightened awareness of potential hazards in their environment can result in disorganized thought processes and a tendency to switch between stimuli.