Looked at distinctly, they seem very different – depression is a highly individual response in which someone shuts down whereas anxiety is typified by panic and high-speed, repetitive emotional, physical and behavioural reactions to potential events.
But living with anxiety can trigger depression, and living with depression can create anxiety disorders – especially panic disorder and phobias about going out in public. This has led to surveys showing more than half of those diagnosed with depression also have anxiety, and around half of those with chronic anxiety display significant symptoms of depression.
It’s not hard to see how these two conditions can be seen as two sides to the same coin – after all, anxiety is amplified by many aspects of the modern world to create a feeling of desperation and worry, which easily builds into depression.
For some people living with anxiety, it can also not be uncommon to experience depression after sever panic attacks.
Equally living with depression makes it difficult to function in relationships or at work and creates a fear surrounding the social stigma of mental illness – these are all triggers for anxiety.
Physiologically, research has shown that the base of both “mood disorders” lies in the same area of the brain – the amygdala, which is responsible for the perception and regulation of emotion. The larger the amygdala the more anxiety a child will experience in their daily life – and there’s been quantifiable evidence to show that prolonged anxiety in childhood increases the risk of developing anxiety disorders and depression later in life.
But there’s a link to how both anxiety and depression can be treated – and this is especially important because anxiety can play a serious role in preventing healthy coping strategies for depression.
Talking to a qualified mental health expert – whether that’s a psychologist, psychotherapist or psychiatrist – can provide mindfulness techniques to bring anxiety under control, which in turn can help you live with depression. Ongoing therapy also allows you to understand the triggers which lead to anxiety and which might also play a role in how you handle depression.
Seeking therapy is also the first step to tackling both of these issues – especially when they co-exist – because they both rely on a feeling of hopelessness. Treatment will help you make the lifestyle changes necessary to make a start on the road to recovery and ongoing treatment will help you make good decisions which help recovery as well as demonstrating to yourself your commitment to tackling both anxiety and depression.
- If you would like help with either depression or anxiety – or if you are living with both – Robert Street Clinic’s counsellors, psychotherapists and psychologists can provide a treatment plan specifically tailored to your needs. For more information or to arrange an appointment call us on 09 973 5950 or contact us via the website.