Anxiety and depression very often co-exist together. Research has shown that about 45% of people with one mental health condition, will meet the criteria of for two or more other mental health disorders. As your anxiety becomes more intense and severe, often times depression can be one of the resulting conditions.
Anxiety and depression together are a dangerous combination and your wellbeing can be at risk. At The Center • A Place of HOPE we have been recognized recently as one of the top 10 facilities in the US for the treatment of depression, and we specialize in treating co-existing conditions such as anxiety and depression.
Although each of the two conditions of anxiety and depression have their own symptoms and treatments, they do similar symptoms.
The symptoms of anxiety and of depression
The symptoms that commonly overlap in anxiety and depression are problems with sleep, irritability, difficulty concentrating and changes in appetite. Although there are similar symptoms, there are some key differences between the two mental health disorder.
With depression you are often feeling sad, down and very low in energy – and these symptoms last for weeks, not just a day or two here and there.
Some of the physical symptoms of depression are:
- Decreased energy
- Chronic fatigue
- Pains, aches, cramps,
- Changes in appetite
- Difficulty sleeping, waking early or oversleeping
- Difficulty concentrating or making decisions
Some of the more emotional symptoms of depression are:
- Loss of interest in your hobbies or sports
- No longer finding pleasure from these hobbies or sports
- Persistent feelings of sadness, loneliness, emptiness
- Feeling hopeless
- Experiencing feelings of worthlessness or helplessness
- Thoughts of suicide or death
Anxiety is often characterized by deep worry or fear. This chronic anxiety, worry and fear can be debilitating. It can lead to irrational thoughts and fears that interrupt and intrude on your daily life.
Some of the physical symptoms or behavioral changes of anxiety:
- Feeling fatigued very easily
- Muscle tension
- Racing heart
- Grinding teeth
- Sleeping difficulties – not being to fall asleep, waking in the night, restlessness
- Difficulty concentrating or making decisions
Some of the more emotional symptoms of anxiety are:
- Feeling on edge, feeling restless
- Difficulty controlling worry or fear
- Panic attacks
You what is normal for you, so it is important to look after yourself and if you feel symptoms and behaviors that aren’t typical for you – it is important that you seek help from an experienced health professional.
When to ask for help?
If you are experiencing symptoms that are lasting for more than 2 weeks, it may be an indication that you have depression, anxiety or a combination of both.
Severe symptoms you need to look out for are:
- Problems with sleep
- Unexplained emotional changes
- Sudden loss of interest
- Feeling completely hopeless, worthless and helpless
There is no single test for anxiety or depression. However, an experienced health professional will be able to diagnose with a combination of a physical exam as well as using some depression and anxiety screening tools.
Treatment for anxiety and depression
Treatment needs to be personalized and specific for you. At The Center • A Place of HOPE, we do all different assessments to really understand what is going on with you and then we will tailor your treatment to be specific for you.
Treatment will usually consist of some talk therapy (counselling) and medication.
Talk therapy may be cognitive behavior therapy (teaches you to adjust your beliefs and thoughts), interpersonal (shows you how to improve your communication); and problem-solving (which gives you skills to manage your symptoms
Medication will vary and should be prescribed by a health professional. The types of medication may be an antidepressant that treats both anxiety and depression symptoms.
It is important to disclose any medications you are taking, even natural supplements, during your assessments to ensure that they won’t interfere with any medications you are prescribed.
Things you can do to help yourself
It is so important that you do see a health professional and they will advise you on the best treatment for you as listed above.
However, there are some things you can do for yourself to help yourself each day.
- Exercise – It is a proven mood booster for your body and mind. Exercise also works to improve your self-esteem and confidence, as well as improving your relationships. Something as simple as a brisk walk can jump-start your endorphins, your feel good hormones. High-energy and frequent exercise is best, and aim to get moving 3-5 days a week. It is important that you choose exercise that you enjoy.
- Relaxation techniques – things like yoga, meditation, and breathing exercises can help with relaxation. All of these techniques help you to focus on your breath, which can help with overall relaxation.
- Check your diet – by limiting alcohol, caffeine and sugar it can help to stabilize your mood. By eating lean proteins and healthy vegetables, you can help to keep your mood more stable.
- Get support – healthy relationship with loved ones can help you to feel more stable and supported. Encouragement and talking things through with friends and family can help you.
Treatment with experienced health professionals is still the most important, as they will guide you on other things you can do on a day to day basis to help yourself.
The Center • A Place of HOPE has many different health professionals who can help you – from doctors, psychologists, psychiatrists, counsellors, nurses, fitness trainers, nutritionists and many other specialists.