Often we are quick to label the feelings that we have on a daily basis; someone who is feeling sad may say they are feeling depressed; someone who is worried about a particular incident may describe it by saying they are having an anxiety attack. These words have become the vernacular of a generation; so much so, in some cases, that we have a difficult time recognizing and defining what symptoms could really be related to clinical conditions. There are many people who experience anxiety in a severe and persistent basis; and others who would be diagnosed as experiencing depression. But what most people don’t realize is that anxiety and depression are connected more often than not.
Depression differs from periods of sadness because of its intensity and frequency. Depression is often a persistent state of melancholy that colors activities of daily life. It can be triggered by many events or environmental factors – or by nothing at all. In some cases heredity or changes in the physical body can be the greatest cause of depression. In either case, the feelings associated with depression are often the same.
Sufferers report feelings of intense sadness, apathy, irritability, and negativity. There are also physical symptoms that those who are depressed report experiencing including stomach problems, insomnia or constant fatigue, lack of appetite, headache, nausea, and general pain throughout the body. In some cases the feelings are so powerful that they render the sufferer incapable of going about normal activities.
Anxiety is defined by persistent and severe feelings of panic and fear – either in a general sense or in response to a particular event or situation. Anxiety is considered to be an umbrella term under which different kinds of anxiety fall including generalized anxiety disorder, panic disorder, phobias, and obsessive-compulsive disorder. Anxiety, like depression, can manifest itself through physical symptoms such as difficulties in breathing, increased heart rate, diarrhea, vomiting, sweating, shaking, and more.
Anxiety and depression can easily be co-occurring – meaning that they occur together with their own separate and independent symptoms; or comorbid – meaning they occur together and their symptoms overlap. Researchers have even studied the existence of anxiety and depression together and found that over half of the people who experience major depression also experience severe and persistent anxiety.
The connection is so prevalent between anxiety and depression that clinicians have developed terms that can help them diagnosis their patients who are presenting with a myriad of symptoms. For instance, agitated depression refers to a depressive state that actually presents as anxiety including feelings of general panic and fear. Akathitic depression is a depressive state that also presents as anxiety but does not include feelings of panic.
In addition, it has been found that ongoing feelings of anxiety can actually trigger depression. And doctors have noticed that where there’s smoke there is often fire. Persistent feelings of panic and apprehension can cause sufferers to experience mild to severe depression. Researchers are still studying the links between anxiety and depression and their commingling effect on each other.
What is clear, however, is that anxiety and depression can be managed and treated through a variety of therapies and medication that have found great success in the marketplace. Often when the overall feeling of anxiety is removed, the depression will lift as well. If you are experiencing any feelings of anxiety and depression it is important to immediately see your doctor so an appropriate treatment plan can be put into motion.