Depression and anxiety are different conditions, but they commonly occur simulataneously. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, major depression often accompanies panic disorder and other anxiety disorders. It is estimated that 45% of people with one mental health condition have two or more disorders, according to healthline. Even though both have different clinical features, there is some overlap of symptoms. For instance, symptoms like irritability, impaired sleep, and decreased concentration are common.
Anxiety is a normal psychological response to stress; it alerts us to dangers in our immediate environment. The anxiety disorder differs from nonpathological anxiety because it is characterized by excessive fear, which affects a person’s daily functioning. Sometimes, people with anxiety disorder will actively avoid the fear-provoking situation and this often leads to disruption in work, school performance or social functioning.
The effects of anxiety can be emotional, physical, and behavioral. Some symptoms may lead to an anxiety disorder if they are:
- Out of proportion to the situation at hand
- Severe or last for a long period
- Causing extreme behavior to reduce the anxiety
You should note that anxiety can be a central aspect of depression, that causes an anxious or agitated depression.
Depression is a common mood disorder characterized by low mood, sadness, and loss of interest in daily activities that continue over time and affect daily functioning. Although common, it is a severe medical illness that can affect how a person thinks and acts. It can decrease a person’s ability to function emotionally, occupationally, physically, and socially.
For most people, rare bouts of depression that last only a few days are not a problem, but clinical depression is something different; it is the type that people seek help for. Major depressive episodes are hallmark features of this depression type. These episodes are distinguished by extreme symptoms that affect daily functioning.
The symptoms of clinical depression can range from mild to severe and often include:
- You feel sad almost all the time
- Feeling tired or having low energy most of the day
- Difficult to sleep
- Feeling worthless
- Weight loss or weight gain
- Changes to appetite
- Difficult to concerntrate
- Feeling hopeless and helpless
- Unexplained stomach problems, headaches, or muscular/skeletal pain
- Thoughts of suicide or self-harm
Symptoms of anxiety and depression are treatable. If you feel like you are experiencing any behaviors that aren’t typical or if something seems off, this can be a sign that you need help from a healthcare provider. Talk to the provider about what you are feeling and experiencing, so that if needed the treatment can begin as soon as possible.
To manage your symptoms:
Along with a formal treatment from your doctor, the following strategies may help you find relief from the symptoms. It is important to understand that the following strategies may not work for everyone and may not work each time. The goal of managing anxiety and depression is to create a series of treatment options that can all work together to help to some extent, whenever it is required for you to use them.
- Let yourself feel what you are feeling: You have to let yourself feel what you are actually feeling and know that it is not your fault. Anxiety and depression disorders are medical conditions. It’s not a result of your failure or weakness. The feel you have is the result of underlying causes and triggers, and not the results of something that you didn’t do.
- Do something that you can manage: Regaining a bit of power and control can help you cope with overwhelming symptoms. Complete a task that you can manage like neatly restacking books or sorting your recycling. Do anything that can help yourself by giving a sense of accomplishment and power.
- Make a morning, evening, or even daily routine: It is one of the best methods, because it sometimes helps people with anxiety and depression by providing structure and a sense of control. It lets you create space in your day for self-care techniques that helps you control the symptoms.
- Eat something nutritious: When you feel anxious or depressed, you will reach for comforting foods like sweets, pasta to reduce the level of tension. However, these foods are not that nutritious. To keep your body nourished and healthy, you should eat fruits, vegetables, lean meats, and whole grains. The mind and body are directly linked. Everything your body does is a result of the commands given by your mind. So, to maintain a healthy mind you should maintain your body well by giving the necessary things it needed like good food, exercise, etc.
- Follow relaxation techniques: Try to do yoga, meditation, and breathing exercises. During the day, meditating for 2-5 minutes can ease your anxiety and enhance your mood. You can try these simple strategies suggested by psychiatrist Sheenie Ambardar, MD.
- Focus on your breath
- Picture a beautiful image in your mind
- Repeat a mantra or simple word like “love” or “happiness”
- Get support: Reach out to your family or friends, wherever you find comfortable and talk with them when you need support. This will help them know what you are going through and they can encourage you.
You can also motivate yourself by making new goals, doing something meaningful like doing charity work, etc. Symptoms of anxiety and depression are treatable. So, if you are suffering from these conditions, and your symptoms last for more than two weeks, frequently recur, or are interfering with the way you live your life, it is time to get help. Getting the right support at the right time will help you recover from the situation and make you feel more balanced.