The Connection Between Depression and Anxiety

Depression and anxiety often go hand-in-hand.  According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, almost half of all people who experience depression also experience anxiety.  Fortunately, there’s a lot of overlap for this double-whammy of disorders of both their symptoms and their treatments.    

What is Depression?

Depression, or Major Depressive Disorder, is an overall sadness and lack of interest that can be devastating.  Other symptoms include fatigue, insomnia, body aches, feelings of guilt, worthlessness, and persistent sadness, and thoughts of suicide.

Often, there is no known reason for depressive feelings.  Factors for depression may be genetics, environmental, personality, or biochemical.  

What is anxiety?

Having anxiety, nervousness or stress, is a normal response to difficult or frightening situations but for many people, the nervousness persists.  It’s a fear that is always with them. It can evolve into panic attacks, phobias, social anxiety, and obsessive-compulsive disorder.  

Symptoms for anxiety include rapid breathing, increased heart rate, restlessness, inability to focus, and sleep problems.

The cause for anxiety is often unknown but could be genetic, environmental, or could be due to an irregularity in brain chemistry.

Treatments for anxiety could include antidepressants but could also involve avoiding alcohol, caffeine, and nicotine, getting enough sleep and exercise, and eating a healthy diet.  Meditation and yoga can also be helpful.

Depression and Anxiety Together

With anxiety and depression, it’s often a “which came first, the chicken or the egg?” situation.  Anxiety focuses on negativity and worry that can trigger a major depressive disorder. Conversely, when you experience depression, it can often cause anxiousness and worry that can lead to full-blown anxiety.    

Treatments

Cognitive behavioral therapy can be an effective treatment for both depression and anxiety.  However, for people suffering from both anxiety and depression, treatment success can vary. Sometimes treating symptoms of depression can ease the symptoms of anxiety and sometimes the reverse is true. In treating people with depression, a therapist may suggest getting involved with external activities and the opposite may be true for some people with anxiety.  If they are active already and it’s contributing tot he anxiety, they may be told to cut back on activities and relax.

Some antidepressants have been shown to successfully treat symptoms of both depression and anxiety so it could mean taking one medication to find relief from symptoms or it could take a combination of medications.

Aside from therapy and medication, Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation is an effective treatment for depression that is used when medication isn’t as effective as needed.  TMS is a therapy in which strong magnets to stimulate the area of the brain associated with depression, allowing the patient to achieve a reduction or complete remission for the symptoms.  And while TMS is not currently used to treat anxiety alone, the close connection between the two may mean that when your depression is reduced, you may feel relief from your anxiety as well.  

If you suffer from depression and medication isn’t working, call GatewayTMS today at (314)909-8487 and find out if TMS is right for you.