Anxiety and depression are two of the most common mental health problems, and many people suffer from both. This is called “comorbidity,” when one person suffers from two or more illnesses. Anxiety and depression can feed off each other, so it is important to treat both if they are present in a patient.
Anxiety and depression are different, but their neurological causes, symptoms, and treatment can be similar. Below are some of the symptoms of depression and anxiety. The symptoms of one may match your illness more closely than the other and can help you identify which one you are suffering from. Or, if you identify with many symptoms in both categories, you may be dealing with comorbid anxiety and depression. Since treatments are so similar, you can certainly treat anxiety and depression effectively at the same time.
Depression symptoms: sleeplessness, insomnia, persistent fatigue, over-eating, lack of appetite, moving, speaking or thinking very slowly, feelings of guilt or shame, inability to concentrate, cloudy thinking, self-harm, lack of self-care, poor hygiene, obsession with darkness or morbidity, jokes about death or suicide, low energy, or loss of interest in former passions.
Anxiety symptoms: excessive worry, racing thoughts, restlessness, difficulty sleeping, difficulty concentrating, self-soothing with food, decreased appetite, tiring easily, irritability, tense muscles, digestive issues, ulcers, panic attacks, dizziness, shortness of breath, and sweating.
Of course, we all experience instances of sadness or fear at some point in our lives. It becomes depression or anxiety when the feeling persists for a long period, and interferes with daily life.
Some of the symptoms of anxiety and depression overlap, such as changing sleep or eating habits.
The treatments available for anxiety and depression are similar, and both include:
– Talk therapy: Rational Emotive Behavioral Therapy, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Dialectical Behavioral Therapy are just a few of the options for treatment. Talk with your doctor or counselor about the options, and what might be best for you.
– Group therapy: group therapy or support groups for mental wellness can benefit those suffering from anxiety and/or depression.
– Medication: the medications used to treat depression are the same ones used to treat anxiety because both affect the same neurotransmitters in the brain. If you are diagnosed with anxiety, do not be surprised if you are prescribed a medication that you thought was for depression. SSRIs and SNRIs both affect serotonin (and SNRIs affect norepinephrine as well) and help your brain create and retain the chemicals it needs to feel good and balanced.