Depression and anxiety can occur at the same time. In fact, it’s been estimated that 45 percent of people with one mental health condition meet the criteria for two or more disorders. One study found that people with either anxiety or depression have the other condition.
You’ve noticed some changes lately. Maybe you feel sad, hopeless, or don’t get any joy out of activities that used to be fun. Sounds like depression, right?
Maybe that’s not all. Sometimes you’re worried, afraid, and just plain uneasy. Isn’t that a sign of anxiety?
Not so fast. It’s normal to have ups and downs or to have things you’re concerned about. You might be going through a difficult time. Your doctor can help you figure out if it’s actually a condition and what would help.
Depression and anxiety are like flip sides of the same coin, says therapist Nancy B. Irwin, PsyD. “Being depressed often makes us anxious, and anxiety often makes us depressed.”
According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA), anxiety disorders — which include generalized anxiety disorder, panic disorder, and social anxiety disorder — are the most common mental health problem among U.S. adults, affecting 18.1 percent of the population each year. And mood disorders — which include major depressive disorder, bipolar disorder, and seasonal affective disorder — are the leading cause of disability.
What are the symptoms of each condition?Some symptoms of depression and anxiety overlap, such as problems with sleep, irritability, and difficulty concentrating. But there are several key differences that help distinguish between the two.
Anxiety, or fear and worry, can happen to anyone from time to time, too. It’s not unusual to experience anxiety before a big event or important decision.
But, chronic anxiety can be debilitating and lead to irrational thoughts and fears that interfere with your daily life.
Physical symptoms and behavioral changes caused by generalized anxiety disorder include:
- muscle tension
- racing heart
- grinding teeth
- sleep difficulties, including problems falling asleep and restless, unsatisfying sleep
- feeling fatigued easily
- difficulty concentrating or recalling
Emotional symptoms of anxiety include:
- restlessness, irritability, or feeling on edge
- difficulty controlling worry or fear
Feeling down, sad, or upset is normal. It can be concerning feeling that way for several days or weeks on end.
Physical symptoms and behavioral changes caused by depression include:
- pain, aches, cramps, or gastrointestinal problems without any clear cause
- changes in appetite or weight
- difficulty sleeping, waking early, or oversleeping
- decreased energy, chronic fatigue, or feeling sluggish frequently
- difficulty concentrating, making decisions, or recalling
Emotional symptoms of depression include:
- anger, irritability, or restlessness
- feeling guilty or experiencing feelings of worthlessness or helplessness
- thoughts of death or suicide
- suicide attempts
- loss of interest or no longer finding pleasure in activities or hobbies
- persistent feelings of sadness, anxiety, or emptiness
feeling hopeless or
Try these when you’re feeling anxious or stressed
Learn what triggers your anxiety.Is it work, family, school, or something else you can identify? Write in a journal when you’re feeling stressed or anxious, and look for a pattern.
Eat well-balanced meals.Do not skip any meals. Do keep healthful, energy-boosting snacks on hand.
Take deep breaths.Inhale and exhale slowly.
Take a time-out.Practice yoga, listen to music, meditate, get a massage, or learn relaxation techniques. Stepping back from the problem helps clear your head.
Get enough sleep.When stressed, your body needs additional sleep and rest. Exercise daily to help you feel good and maintain your health. Check out the fitness tips below.
Limit alcohol and caffeine,which can aggravate anxiety and trigger panic attacks.
Talk to someone.Tell friends and family you’re feeling overwhelmed, and let them know how they can help you. Talk to a physician or therapist for professional help.
Maintain a positive attitude.Make an effort to replace negative thoughts with positive ones.
Get involved.Volunteer or find another way to be active in your community, which creates a support network and gives you a break from everyday stress.
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Exercise dailyto help you feel good and maintain your health. Check out the fitness tips below.
Accept that you cannot control everything.Put your stress in perspective: Is it really as bad as you think?
Fitness Tips: Stay Healthy, Manage Stress
For the biggest benefits of exercise, try to include at least 2½ hours of moderate-intensity physical activity (e.g. brisk walking) each week, 1¼ hours of a vigorous-intensity activity (such as jogging or swimming laps), or a combination of the two.
- 5 X 30: Jog, walk, bike, or dance three to five times a week for 30 minutes.
- Distract yourself with an iPod or other portable media player to download audiobooks, podcasts, or music. Many people find it’s more fun to exercise while listening to something they enjoy.
- Set small daily goals and aim for daily consistency rather than perfect workouts. It’s better to walk every day for 15-20 minutes than to wait until the weekend for a three-hour fitness marathon. Lots of scientific data suggests that frequency is most important.
- Be patient when you start a new exercise program. Most sedentary people require about four to eight weeks to feel coordinated and sufficiently in shape so that exercise feels easier.
- Find forms of exercise that are fun or enjoyable. Extroverted people often like classes and group activities. People who are more introverted often prefer solo pursuits.
- Recruit an “exercise buddy.” It’s often easier to stick to your exercise routine when you have to stay committed to a friend, partner, or colleague.
You don’t have to live with unusual feelings, thoughts, or other symptoms of either depression or anxiety. Talk with your doctor if these feelings or changes last longer than a week or two. Early treatment is the best way to manage the conditions and find treatments that are effective in the long-term.
Finding the right treatment for you may take some time. Most medications require two weeks or more to be effective. Likewise, you may have to try several medications to find the right option for you. Your doctor will work with you to find the best option.