What is Mixed Depression and Anxiety?


Depression and Anxiety are two separate pathologies with different causes and effects. All the while, they commonly manifest in the same individual. In various studies, it was determined that more than 50% of the clinical population diagnosed with anxiety disorder was simultaneously diagnosed with depression, with different incidence rates depending on the type of anxiety disorder.

The following table presents information from the latest edition of the Diagnostic and Statistics Manual of Mental Disorders, Fourth Edition, regarding the co-morbidity of depression and different types of anxiety disorder.

Co-occurence of different disorders
Depression + GADup to 30%
Depression + PTSDup to 10%
Depression + specific phobiaup to 20%
Depression + Social Phobiaup to 30%
Depression + OCDup to 10%
Depression + panic disorderup to 65%

 

Some of these patients already manifested symptoms of depression while starting their anxiety treatment, but the majority was reported to develop such symptoms following the onset of anxiety disorder. In other words, anxiety disorder is often known to trigger or reinforce depressive disorders, and likewise.

However; even though both anxiety and depressive disorders respond positively to the same pharmaceutical treatments, there are other aspects of treatment which may differ significantly. As a matter of fact, one of the reasons why anxiety is still so widespread is because for too long it was treated as being “just” a subset of depression.

Whether or not you have been diagnosed with both pathologies, it’s a good idea to learn what makes these conditions different, as well as how they can reinforce one another.

The causes and effects of depression

A depression is a type of mood disorder; as such, it mostly affects the patient’s emotions. The proper term is actually “Major Depressive Disorder”, a diagnosis that is applicable only after the patient has had more than two Major Depressive Episodes.

To be properly diagnosed with a Major Depressive Episode, a patient must have experienced intense feelings of sadness, worthlessness, loss of interest in life, and several other depressive symptoms. For a depressive disorder diagnosis to be applicable, these symptoms must not be the result of substance abuse, medical conditions or specific traumatic events.

The causes of depression are not fully understood yet, but research indicates that very much like anxiety disorder, they are essentially biological and environmental.

Depression is the most common stand-alone psychological disorder, affecting as many as 10% of the population and surpassed only by anxiety disorders as a group of conditions (which also affect about 10% of the population).

The causes and effects of anxiety disorder

There are various types of anxiety disorder (Social Phobia, GAD, PTSD, OCD and others), all of which have something in common. Whereas depressive disorders take their toll on the patient’s emotions, anxiety disorders mostly manifest in the body and mind.

The causes of anxiety disorder are also not fully understood either. But similarly to depression, research indicates biological and environmental factors are likely paramount to the development of this kind of disease.

For additional details, you may want to read the article that focuses on the causes of anxiety.

The effects of anxiety can be rather diverse and unpredictable, encompassing a wide range of physical symptoms such as tremors, nausea, blushing, chest pains, choking sensations and several others. Additionally, anxiety disorder usually expresses through several mental symptoms, such as persistent apprehension, chroming worrying and catastrophic thinking.

What to do if you have depression and anxiety?

If you have been diagnosed with both depression and anxiety disorder, you should brace yourself for a challenging road to recovery. Dealing with these conditions separately is difficult enough. But when they manifest simultaneously, the symptoms of anxiety and depression will usually reinforce each other.

That’s no reason you should lose hope, though. If you have both conditions, it just means you should be even more serious about getting proper treatment. Recovery is always an option, and the process begins when you decide it’s time to find help and overcome your issues.

No matter how sad, lethargic or scared you feel, you must keep in mind that you are not alone – unless you choose so, of course. Just in the United States of America, there are almost twenty million people who suffer from a depressive disorder, and another twenty million who suffer from anxiety disorder.

Your suffering is more common than you can imagine

The overlap between both conditions is as large as 1-5 million people, meaning there are really that many patients whose lives are severely limited because they are afflicted with both anxiety and depression. You should try to find some solace in these numbers, especially in those darker moments when you feel as though you’re desolate and hopeless.

Most importantly, you must keep in mind that there are several treatment options available, regardless if you have an anxiety disorder, depressive disorder or both. The success rates of treatment keep improving each year, and there are diverse successful treatment courses.

Speak with your therapist and take action as soon as possible to improve your life quality. Read through the articles in this website and you’ll find lots of practical advice to help you get started on the road to recovery.

Reference:

Lowe B. et al. “Depression, anxiety and somatization in primary care: syndrome overlap and functional impairment”. (May 2008) General Hospital Psychiatry. Volume 30, Issue 3, Pages 191-199

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