By Candace Schoner
Anxiety and depression are serious mental health conditions that affect the lives of millions of Americans. While they are uniquely different conditions, they can occur together.
The main symptom of depression is generally a lingering low, sad, or hopeless feeling. On the other hand, anxiety mainly involves an overwhelming sense of worry, nervousness, and fear.
Feeling down or having the blues on occasion is normal, however so is feeling anxious in a stressful situation. When the feelings become severe or chronic they can indicate an underlying mental health disorder.
Many people who have anxiety and depression know their worrying is irrational, but they still cannot stop the self-doubt and negative thoughts.
Signs of depression and anxiety frequently show up differently from person to person making it difficult to diagnose the problem. Some of the overlapping symptoms, including, but are not limited to:
Other signs that a person may suffer from both anxiety disorder and depression include:
“It’s a cycle,” says Sally R. Connolly, LCSW and therapist. “When you get anxious, you tend to have this pervasive thinking about some worry or some problem. You feel bad about it. Then you feel like you’ve failed. You move to depression.” (heart grove hospital.com)
According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), some experts estimate that 60 percent of people with anxiety will also have symptoms of depression.
Since anxiety and depression tend to worsen when existing together, mental health professionals recommend treating both conditions at the same time.
The first step in treating any mental health issue is a diagnosis. According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 5th edition (DSM-5),” the diagnosis for:
Depression is experiencing at least 5 of the 9 main symptoms of depression most days, for at least 2 weeks.
Anxiety is experiencing excessive, uncontrollable worry, along with 3 additional anxiety symptoms most days, for at least 6 months.
Therapy for Anxiety and Depression
In many cases, psychotherapy can be tailored to treat the symptoms of both anxiety and depression, including:
It is important to remember that what works for one person may not work for another.
If a person is not sure about which type of therapy is best for their individual situation, they should consult with their doctor or healthcare provider.
Medications for Anxiety and Depression
There is no single medication to treat anxiety or depression, usually there are multiple medications working in conjunction with each other to address all of the symptoms. In most cases a medication regimen is usually started at a low dose, to minimize side-effects, and slowly increased until the ideal dose is found. The ideal dose is one that provides the greatest benefit with minimum side-effects.
Some of the most commonly prescription drugs used to treat depression include:
Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), such as citalopram (Celexa), escitalopram oxalate (Lexapro), fluoxetine (Prozac), fluvoxamine (Luvox), paroxetine HRI (Paxil), and sertraline (Zoloft). Selective serotonin & norepinephrine inhibitors (SNRIs), such as desvenlafaxine (Khedezla), desvenlafaxine succinate (Pristiq), duloxetine (Cymbalta), levomilnacipran (Fetzima), and venlafaxine (Effexor).
When treating anxiety disorders, antidepressants, particularly the SSRIs and some SNRIs (serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors), have been shown to be effective.
Other anti-anxiety drugs include benzodiazepines, such as alprazolam (Xanax), diazepam (Valium), buspirone (Buspar), and lorazepam (Ativan). These drugs do carry a risk of addiction or tolerance. Other possible side effects include drowsiness, poor concentration, and irritability. (Source: webmd.com)
Always consult your physician prior to e adding any medication (prescription or over the counter) As there could be a negative reaction mixed with existing medications or diets.
Lots of new mothers feel unprepared and anxious when it's time to bring their new babies home from the hospital. However, few are prepared for postpartum depression (PPD).
PPD is a complex mix of physical, emotional, and behavioral changes that happen in some women after giving birth, usually immediately after childbirth when the mother's hormone levels and uterus size returns to a non-pregnant state.
Seventy to 80 percent of new moms experience “baby blues” including depression, anxiety, and mood swings. While approximately 10 percent suffer with postpartum which may interfere with a mother's ability to take care of and bond with her baby. In rare cases, some new mothers have harmed themselves and/or their babies. (upmc.com)
“I was drowning in tears almost daily,” said one mother after giving birth to her first child. “The stress and my depression affected my entire household.
“Almost all of my pregnancy ailments disappeared the minute he (Jack) was born and were replaced by all these other physical issues. In any other case, if I had been in this much pain, I would have been nursing myself back to health on the couch. But instead, my own needs were coming second to this itty bitty infant, said Carly Riordan.
Amanda M. from Nevada said “The severe sleep deprivation literally made me hallucinate one night. I wish I had known that it’s okay to ask for help, how you forget to take care of yourself (forgetting to shower, eat, etc.), how everyone is so concerned about the baby that people forget that your body is recovering from a huge traumatic event.”
Every mother’s postpartum experience is different. It isn't a character flaw or a weakness.
According to mayoclinic.com, PPD can be mistaken for baby blues at first — but the signs and symptoms are more intense and often develop within the first few weeks after giving birth, but may begin earlier ― during pregnancy ― or later — up to a year after birth.
Signs and symptoms of postpartum depression may include:
Written by Candace Schoner, Freelance Writer and Producer of Speaking Candidly with Candace
On a basic surface level, we understand that there is an obvious distinction between 'mind' and 'body' - or the mental vs. physical aspects of ourselves - but, as we’ve seen in plenty of studies and learned through our own life experiences, it’s not actually that clear-cut. The mind and the body are irrefutably connected and intertwined with one another. You cannot have one without the other, as both exist to establish the self. When one’s physical health suffers it can lead to mental health problems, including depression, feelings of anxiety, and even suicidal thoughts. On the other hand, a person's psychological well-being has been scientifically proven to affect one’s overall health. Several years ago, after experiencing a rapid decline in my physical health, I became severely depressed and started seeing a psychotherapist - anecdotal proof that this correlation is real.
Since the pandemic, healthcare professionals have increasingly been asked to consider a patient's mental health along with their physical symptoms, and vice versa. Many lobby groups and nonprofit mental health agencies are seeking additional funding to improve mental health services in America. While Covid-19 has brought the mental health crisis in America to mainstream media awareness in 2021, the dilemma has been occurring for decades.
FACT: People with mental health conditions are less likely to seek out and receive proper health care.
FACT: Those with higher stress levels are at great risk of coronary heart disease and more likely to die from cancer than those who feel less stressed.
FACT: Depression, the most common mental health disorder in the U.S., can be just as much of a physical illness as a mental one. By suppressing T cell responses to viruses and bacteria, depression can weaken the immune system, making one more susceptible to contracting sickness and disease.
FACT: Individuals with schizophrenia have an increased risk for heart and respiratory diseases.
Fortunately for all Americans who are struggling with a mental health condition, there are lifestyle changes that can positively influence both physical and mental health.
Not surprisingly, exercise is at the top of the list. You don’t have to go to a gym to work out; any form of physical activity can help release endorphins (feel-good chemicals) in the brain. Even a short 10 minute brisk walk can improve mental sharpness, energy, and mood. If walking isn’t your speed (sorry for the pun), pick another activity that you enjoy. Whether it’s gardening, swimming, walking your dog, or playing a sport - just try to keep moving. Your body and mind will thank you.
You’ve probably heard this before, but it’s true. The food we eat can influence the development, management, and prevention of numerous mental and physical conditions, including depression and memory loss. A healthy balanced diet includes a healthy amount of proteins, essential fats, complex-carbohydrates, vitamins, minerals, and water. Recently, I started taking B12 on the advice of my physician to help eliminate chronic fatigue. Click here to learn more about the benefits of Vitamin B.
Get out and enjoy some sun and see if your mood doesn’t improve. Exposure to sunlight releases serotonin in the brain. Serotonin is a hormone associated with boosting mood, creating a sense of calm, and improving focus.
Animal Assisted Therapy
Last but not least, for anyone who has a pet, you have probably experienced the calmness that comes from petting an animal. The history of Animal-assisted therapy goes back centuries when it was used to help improve morale, engage the attention of the elderly, and help people with disabilities improve their skills. Today, most people think of therapy dogs to help reduce anxiety, elevate mood, and lower blood pressure. Both are incredibly beneficial for mental and physical health.
If you are experiencing a mental health crisis, remember that you don’t have to go it alone. Please talk to a friend, medical professional, or call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1-800-273-8255. You can find additional mental health resources on your website and be sure to follow us on social media for shared stories and inspirational quotes.