Comorbid Depression: Common Depression Comorbidities And Symptoms

Reviewed by Laura Angers, LPC

Published 12/11/2020

Are you wondering what it means to have comorbid depression? It could be that you noticed the word “comorbid” when researching health conditions and are wondering what it means, or you might’ve heard someone say that they have comorbid depression and anxiety or comorbid depression and an eating disorder, for example, and are wondering what exactly that means. In this article, we’re going to go over the definition of the word “comorbid,” talk about disorders that are common comorbidities in those with depressive disorders and go over how to know if you might have depression.

What Does “Comorbid” Mean?

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The Merriam-Webster dictionary definition of the word “comorbid” is “existing simultaneously with and usually independently of another medical condition.” In simple language, if someone has a comorbid mental health condition, it means that they have more than one condition or diagnosis. For example, someone might have an anxiety disorder and a mood disorder. So, if someone has comorbid depression, it means that they have depression as well as another disorder. Comorbid conditions in those with depressive disorders are actually extremely common. According to research published on the BMC website, a comorbid mental health condition was present in 64% of mild depression cases, as well as 72% of moderate depression cases and 78% of severe depression cases.

Common Depression Comorbidities

Various studies have been conducted on depressive disorders and common comorbidities, including physical conditions and mental health disorders. Here are some common depression comorbidities:

Anxiety disorders

A 2018 post on the national alliance on mental illness (NAMI) blog cited a study which indicates that about 60% of people with anxiety disorders also experience depressive symptoms. Anxiety disorders and depression very commonly co-occur and often have similar treatments. Common anxiety disorders include generalized anxiety disorder or GAD, social anxiety disorder or SAD, panic disorder, selective mutism, separation anxiety disorder, and specific phobias.

Signs of anxiety may include:

  • Excessive worry
  • Panic attacks
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Trouble concentrating
  • Intrusive thoughts
  • Rumination
  • Social isolation or withdrawal
  • Shaking or trembling
  • Irritability

That said, it’s important to know that every anxiety disorder is different and that everyone with an anxiety disorder will experience different symptoms.

Personality disorders

It’s estimated that up to 83% of people with borderline personality disorder (BPD) also have depression. Depressive symptoms can sometimes be an indicator of a personality disorder if it’s paired with other symptoms of that personality disorder. There are three clusters of personality disorders currently recognized in the diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders or DSM: Cluster A, Cluster B, and Cluster C.

Cluster A personality disorders include schizoid personality disorder, schizotypal personality disorder, and paranoid personality disorder.

Cluster B personality disorders include borderline personality disorder, histrionic personality disorder, narcissistic personality disorder (NPD), and antisocial personality disorder.

Cluster C personality disorders include avoidant personality disorder, dependent personality disorder, and obsessive-compulsive personality disorder (OCPD).

Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD)

Obsessive-compulsive disorder or OCD impacts roughly 2.2 million people aged 18 and older in the United States alone. It can also affect children and teens, just like depression and anxiety disorders. It is common for those with obsessive-compulsive disorder to have comorbid depression. Like with anxiety disorders and various other mental health disorders, OCD treatment can be similar to depression treatment in many cases. Obsessive-compulsive disorder is a disorder that is characterized by obsessions, compulsions, and other symptoms, like intrusive thoughts or images. There are a number of different subtypes of OCD, including contamination OCD, harm OCD, symmetry obsession for checking compulsions, relationship OCD, religious OCD, and purely obsessive OCD, sometimes referred to as “pure O.”

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)

Post-traumatic stress disorder or PTSD is a mental health disorder that can occur in anyone who’s experienced or witnessed a traumatic event. However, not everyone who has experienced a traumatic event develops PTSD. Studies indicate that about half of those diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder or PTSD also have a diagnosis of major depressive disorder or MDD. It’s said that one out of every eleven people will be diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder at one point in their lives.

Diabetes

One in every three people with diabetes is said to experience depression. According to the Center For Disease Control or CDC, people diagnosed with diabetes are two to three more times as likely as the rest of the population to have depression.

Chronic migraines

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The American Migraine Foundation suggests that roughly 25% or one out of every four migraine patients experience depression. Migraines are incredibly painful, and chronic migraines can have an extremely negative impact on one’s life.

Polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS)

Individuals living with polycystic ovarian syndrome or PCOS are said to more likely experience both depressive disorders and anxiety disorders in comparison to the general population.

Cancer

According to cancer.org, 25% or one out of every four people with cancer experience depression.

Depression Facts And Statistics

Here are some facts and statistics about depression:

  • Major depressive disorder is more frequently diagnosed in women than it is in men.
  • Major depressive disorder is one of the leading causes of disability in the United States.
  • About 7.2% of those aged 18 and older in the United States have a major depressive disorder.
  • According to the Center For Disease Control (CDC), 1.9 million children and adolescents between the ages of 3 and 17 have major depressive disorder.
  • One out of every three people who survive a heart attack is said to experience depression.
  • According to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), 10% to 27% of post-stroke patients experience depression.

How Do I Know If I Have Depression?

There are a number of different types of depressive disorders, including major depressive disorder or MDD, which is one of the most common depressive disorders, persistent depressive disorder or PDD, postpartum depression, premenstrual dysphoric disorder or PMDD, seasonal affective disorder (a type of major depression that occurs on a seasonal basis), and other specified or unspecified depressive disorders. Here are some signs and symptoms of depression to look out for:

  • Loss of interest in activities one used to enjoy
  • A low or depressed mood
  • Feelings of worthlessness, hopelessness, or disproportionate guilt
  • Changes in appetite
  • Sleeping too much or too little (hypersomnia or insomnia)
  • Irritability

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  • Excessive crying
  • Emotional numbness
  • Fatigue or tiredness

If you are experiencing symptoms of depression and find that they are impacting your life, self-care, or ability to function at work, school, and relationships, and any other areas of your life, it’s essential to see your doctor or go to a psychiatrist for an evaluation. During that appointment, you can talk about your symptoms and potentially get a diagnosis, or receive a referral to someone who can give you a diagnosis and evaluation. Getting diagnosed with depression is not as scary as it may seem. Typically, the diagnostic process for depression consists of a medical professional, such as a psychiatrist, asking you a series of questions, and providing you with a diagnosis based on the answers. It’s a non-invasive process, and often, a diagnosis is the first step to treating a disorder like depression. Don’t be afraid to reach out, and remember that depression is a common mental health condition. If you struggle with depression or any other mental health disorder, you are not alone.

Is It Normal To Have A Comorbid Mental Health Disorder?

As you can see, based on the statistics in this article, it is very common to have a comorbid mental health condition or more than one mental health condition. Physical health conditions can also co-occur with mental health conditions. Many people have comorbid mental health conditions, and as long as there’s treatment available for the disorder or disorders you have, you can certainly receive help, support, and treatment for both. In the case that one disorder is more prevalent, pressing, or immediately concerning, that disorder may be treated first, but you can get treatment for multiple disorders in your life regardless. Make sure that you always consult a medical or mental health professional if you notice symptoms of any disorder(s) impacting your life, and know that many people with mental health conditions live full, happy lives.

Take The Mind Diagnostics Depression Test

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The Mind Diagnostics website has a variety of different mental health assessments or tests, including but not limited to a post-traumatic stress disorder or PTSD test, a social anxiety disorder test, a relationship health test, and obsessive-compulsive disorder or OCD test, and more. After reading the depressive symptoms in this article, you might wonder if you could have depression. If so, consider taking the Mind Diagnostics depression test. All of the tests on the Mind Diagnostics website are free, fast, and confidential. While they cannot replace a diagnosis from a medical or mental health professional, taking a Mind Diagnostics test can give you insight into what you might be going through, and it could be the first step to getting the help you need. Although depression can affect people of all ages, the Mind Diagnostics depression test is for those aged 18 and older.

Click here to take the Mind Diagnostics depression test.