How To Manage Anxiety And Depression Treatment When Diagnosed With Both

Reviewed by Dawn Brown, LPC, NCC

Published 06/22/2022

Dealing with symptoms of depression and anxiety at the same time is common. Some people with depression develop symptoms of anxiety and vice versa. While they are different, there are treatment options to help you cope with both. It is essential to understand your symptoms and how they affect your lifestyle. From there, review which depression and anxiety treatments are recommended for your symptoms with your doctor. Understanding how to manage your symptoms includes knowing your options and determining what actions to take to get results. 

Possible Reasons For Having Both

Like many who suffer want to know what is needed for curing depression and anxiety, research continues to explore why these conditions occur. Maybe you feel anxious about something coming up like a test or meeting. It is normal to feel depressed and nervous, but it is a cause for concern when they occur more frequently.

Perhaps you have a depression diagnosis, but notice at times you feel anxious and uneasy. You have an anxiety disorder but notice you feel sad and isolated often while worrying about things. Talking to your doctor about your symptoms is necessary to understanding if you have both and why. Some mental health experts believe one condition can lead to the other's diagnosis.

While each condition is different because of how it affects a person's mental and emotional state, studies suggest they could have similar causes behind occurrences. In some cases, causes for the conditions may overlap, meaning each situation could have different causes while sharing a cause. Reasons, why a person has both conditions may include the following:

Family History Or Genetics. A person may have anxiety or depression symptoms because someone in their family had the same condition or related mental health concern. While genetics could be a factor, sometimes factors considered not inherited, like someone's environment, could lead to symptoms. Some believe anxiety is inherited more so than depression.

Social Situations. A person may be at an increased risk based on their environment or past events, leading to an emotional outcome. Such situations may include dealing with stress from work or experiencing job loss. A person can be stressed by relationships with friends, family, and spouse or partner. Some may experience a significant period of social isolation. Sometimes traumatic events from the past or experiencing a physical illness could also increase the risk. If a person has a mental health condition such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), they could develop depressive symptoms.

Preexisting Conditions Or Chronic Pain. People with health concerns that include headaches, back pain, or even conditions such as irritable bowel syndrome or IBS could have links to anxiety, depression, or both. Elements that influence biological and psychological distress could increase a person's risk of feeling depressed or uneasy more often.

Common Symptoms Seen In Both

Understanding how to manage symptoms related to mental health concerns includes reviewing symptoms and noting which ones affect you the most. Depression and anxiety share similar symptoms, including: 

  • Fatigue and tiredness
  • Trouble concentrating
  • Irritability
  • Sleeping problems
  • Constant worrying or fearful behavior
  • Eating too little or too much
  • Feeling sad or worthless
  • Panic attacks, feeling uneasy, or inability to feel calm
  • Lack of interest in activities and hobbies
  • Headaches, sweating, stomach pain, hot flashes, rapid heartbeat, shortness of breath, and other similar physical symptoms

As you understand what symptoms are associated with both, consider how they affect your lifestyle and make goals on how you want to see improvement. If you are being treated for symptoms related to one or both conditions and have additional concerns, contact your doctor or mental health specialist. Sometimes treatment plans need readjustment depending on your circumstances. You could also ask about new medication options or other ways to change your lifestyle to live more comfortably.

How They Can Be Treated Together

Many may wonder, is it possible to learn how to cure depression and anxiety. While there is no cure for either, both can be treated using techniques known for treating each condition separately. In some cases, it is easier to treat symptoms together using specific options because it allows you to address multiple concerns simultaneously. It may help reduce the severity of symptoms while giving more insight into managing them in different situations. Effective treatment strategies include a combination of therapy, medication, and self-care techniques that involve making lifestyle changes. Here are examples of standard treatment options:

Talk Therapy. Also known as psychotherapy or counseling, patients learn how to approach thought patterns that contribute to feelings of anxiety, sadness, etc. There are two common types of talk therapy used for depressive symptoms and anxiety, including cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) and interpersonal psychotherapy (IPT).

CBT helps people learn coping skills by challenging negative thought patterns to reduce stress and encourage calmness. Some find this therapy useful for treating some forms of pain. IPT helps patients cope with feelings and emotions related to personal relationships such as conflicts, withdrawal, and isolation. It helps people deal with unresolved grief and other forms of emotional pain.

Therapy also helps with problem-solving skills. You can work with a therapist or counselor that specializes in anxiety disorders and depression. 

Medication. Taking medication for depressive symptoms and anxiety often includes an antidepressant to help stabilize your mood. Many who take medication also engage in therapy to get better results. Sometimes medications have side effects when you're new to taking them. Any side effects that become a problem should be reported to your doctor.

Upon being prescribed, mention any other medications or preexisting conditions to ensure antidepressant medication prescribed doesn't interact.  When taking medication, it may take time before noticing results. Some could take a couple of weeks to get into your system. You may need to change the medicine to find the right fit for your symptoms in some cases.

Regular Exercise. Exercising regularly is recommended as part of a healthy lifestyle. It also helps boost your mood naturally because it helps the body produce hormones known as endorphins. Consider ways to encourage physical activities about three to five times a week. You can do things such as walking the dog, use workout equipment at home, or go out for a jog. Once you find activities, you like to focus on being consistent to experience and maintain results. You can also get advice from your doctor about exercise programs and types of activities that are best for your health.

Learn How To Relax. There are many relaxation techniques you can learn to practice regularly. Popular activities such as meditation, mindfulness, and yoga help keep anxiety levels low and depression symptoms at bay. It takes time to find the right strategies based on your interests and time you can commit. Start small and work your way up. Engage in deep breathing, visualization, and memorizing or repeating a mantra or simple word to calm your thoughts. Activities like meditation and mindfulness help you learn how to be aware of yourself and things in your environment. You can get tips and advice on what to try out from experts such as a yoga instructor or mental health specialist.

Self-Help Techniques

Additionally, there are other things you can do to manage your symptoms, including assessing your lifestyle and social circles. Sometimes treatment plans for depression and anxiety provide better results when combined with other healthy actions. Managing your symptoms includes being open to new strategies and techniques that make daily living better. Here are a few areas to consider making changes to help improve or prevent symptoms of depression and anxiety:

Assess Your Diet And Make Changes As Necessary. Some people have a poor habit of turning to comfort food to help them feel better. Many so-called comfort foods are not healthy, but you can encourage yourself to eat and snack better by increasing the intake of essential nutrients. Keep sugar intake, alcohol, and caffeine to a minimum since they make you feel tired or moody more often.

Establish A Support System. When you feel depressed or uneasy, who do you talk to when you need to release? Make sure you have people in your social circle that care about you and your wellbeing. Sometimes having a friend to talk to can help you feel better when feeling sad or overwhelmed. It helps to have someone you can do things with when you need motivation, such as an exercise buddy or someone that can help you get things done around the house. Having people you trust and admire in your presence helps create positive energy.

Look Into How You Can Use Your Time Better. It may include learning time management techniques, establishing goals for a home project, or looking into ways to help others. Tackle organizing the closet or do something you've always wanted to do. Get into meaningful activities related to what you believe in. Learn a new hobby or start reading books about interesting topics and stories. Keeping yourself busy and proactive keeps negative thoughts at bay while helping you feel better as you get things accomplished. 

Look at your diagnosis of depression and anxiety as a new beginning. You can be in control of managing your symptoms because you have many options available. Some days may be better than others, but you can learn how to make the best of your time and energy to live a meaningful life.