Reviewed by Rashonda Douthit, LCSW
Depression and anxiety are mental health conditions that affect many people and often occur together. There are several theories as to why this is the case. We will talk about both.
Typically, there are different causes for each of these conditions. However, there are some of their symptoms and treatment that are similar. You may deal with both conditions with psychotherapy, medication, or lifestyle changes.
What is Depression?
There are quite a number of studies that see depression as a mental condition characterized by despair and hopelessness which take hold of your life or that make you feel down persistently in your day-to-day life. According to the American Psychiatric Association, depression is seen as a serious medical condition that negatively can affect your feelings, thoughts, and actions. When you're depressed, you experience intense feelings of sadness and loss of pleasure or interest in once enjoyed activities.
Moreover, depression can interfere with the different aspects of your life such as work, sleep, eat, study, and pleasure. In fact, it can make getting through the day feel overwhelming. Depression may be experienced differently. Some people feel empty, worthless, and indifferent. For instance, depression in men can be indicated by feelings of anger and restlessness.
It's important to see a licensed mental health professional to be diagnosed when you begin to experience some related symptoms because the unresolved depressive condition can seriously affect your life. You can also try an online depression test to potentially understand more about the symptoms you’ve been experiencing.
What are the Symptoms of Depression?
Although depression may occur differently from person to person, there are some common symptoms. These symptoms can contribute immensely to the daily problems you experience. It's important to identify and deal with the symptoms as early as possible before they begin to seriously affect your normal life. The following are some of the common symptoms:
- Feelings of helplessness and pessimism: The feelings that you're helpless or that there is no hope for you are strong indications that you're suffering from depression. Here, you will believe that there is nothing you can do to help your situation or thinking that nothing will get better.
- Loss of interest in activities you once enjoyed: This is a very common depressive symptom. It involves you being indifferent about your former pastimes, hobbies, sex, or social activities— here, you will sense your inability to feel pleasure and joy.
- Sleep problems: Some of the factors that may be responsible for depression may include stress, anxiety, and frustrations. All of these can lead to sleep changes. Here, you may find it difficult to wake up early in the morning or have problems falling asleep (insomnia).
- Appetite or weight changes: If you're depressed, you may find it difficult to eat well or eat more excessively. Consequently, appetite changes may result either in weight loss or weight gain.
- Self-loathing: Depression can make you feel unpleasant about yourself. It can make you feel guilty or worthless. Here, you beat yourself up harshly because of some mistakes and faults.
- Difficulty concentrating: Depression can make you lose focus. Also, you can develop the problem of remembering things or making decisions.
- Loss of energy: If you're depressed, you will feel physically drained. It may result in getting too tired to deal with life's issues or handling tasks. Here, you may feel sluggish or fatigued
- Irritability or anger: Feeling irritable or angry is very common in men. Depression can make you feel agitated, restless, or violent. In addition, you feel a low level of tolerance, your temper will be short, and you will always discover that everyone and everything will often get on your nerves.
- Aches and pains: Depression can show the symptoms of unexplained aches and pains such as aching muscles, headaches, back pain, and stomach pain. You will discover that you frequently complain about these physical symptoms.
- Reckless behavior: When you're depressed, there are unhealthy behaviors you may exhibit. This behavior may include driving recklessly, substance abuse, dangerous sports, or compulsive gambling.
How do Depression Symptoms Vary with Gender and Age?
The symptoms of depression sometimes vary with respect to gender and age. This implies that the symptoms that men experience are at times different from those experienced by women; likewise, older adults and young people. The following are the differences in symptoms:
- Depression in men:
- Sleep problems
- Loss of interest in hobbies and work
Men are more likely to show symptoms such as
- Substance abuse
- Reckless behavior
- Depression in women
Depressive symptoms in women can be impacted by changes in hormones during pregnancy, menstruation, and menopause. They are more likely to show symptoms such as
- Pronounced feelings of guilt
- Sleeping problems
- Weight gain
- Depression in teens
- Stomach aches
- Depression in older adults
- Unexplained aches
- Memory problems
- Neglecting personal appearance
- Discontinuing critical medications
What is Anxiety?
Mental Health America explains anxiety as an emotion that is felt when you get worried about something or a situation. It's seen as a feeling which affects both mind and body— tensed and worried respectively. In other words, anxiety is characterized by some feelings including tension, worried thoughts, and physical change.
Anxiety can interfere with some areas of your life if not managed effectively. It can turn into a disorder that is characterized by intrusive or unwanted thoughts or concerns. Fortunately, anxiety or anxiety disorder can be treated. You can use self-care strategies or talk to your doctor/therapist.
What are the Symptoms of Anxiety?
Just like depression, the symptoms of anxiety can occur differently from person to person. Specifically, there is a way the human body reacts to situations. Technically, your body is on high alert and responds with either fight or flight when you sense possible danger or threat— this captures basically what you experience when you feel anxious. The following are some common symptoms you may experience when you're anxious:
- Fast heart rate or breathing, and increased perspiration: When you're anxious, the number of your heartbeats per unit of time increases rapidly which may indicate that you're exposed to a danger or threat. This can make your breath faster than normal. Also, you may begin to sweat profusely.
- Muscle Tension: This is a frequent symptom of anxiety. Muscle tenseness can increase your feelings of anxiety. In some other situations, anxiety can cause increased muscle tenseness.
- Restlessness and nervousness: Restlessness and nervousness are symptoms common in teens and children. Anxiety will make you uncomfortable, restless, and overwhelmed by fear.
- Sleeping problems: Anxiety lead to sleep disturbances. It makes you have trouble falling or staying asleep.
- Difficulty concentrating or focusing on something else other than the object of your worry: An anxiety disorder can interfere with your ability to concentrate on a certain task. This is because your mind will be fixed on what triggers your feelings of tension worry, or fear.
- Lethargy or weakness: When you're anxious, you may experience extreme fatigue or drowsiness and sometimes prolonged sleep.
- A strong desire to avoidance the triggers of your anxiety: Anxiety can make you avoid situations or events that can make you anxious or worry. For instance, you may avoid social situations if you have a social anxiety disorder.
Other common symptoms may include gastrointestinal or problems (gas, diarrhea, or constipation), repetitive behaviors, being obsessed with some specific ideas, and feelings of panic, danger, or dread.
Furthermore, children with anxiety may experience symptoms such as irritability, jitteriness, shame, sleeplessness, and feelings of fear and isolation. In teenagers, it may include shyness, nervousness, avoidance, and isolationist behaviors.
How to Manage the Symptoms of Anxiety and Depression
Although the signs of depression and anxiety can be overwhelming, there are ways you can manage them. It’s a good idea to get in touch with your doctor or therapist so they can help. Basically, anxiety and depression symptoms are managed to get different treatment options that you can use together to help deal with your conditions anytime you need them. The following are some of the ways to manage them:
- Understand your feelings: The very first step to managing the signs of anxiety and depression is to understand clearly what you are dealing with. Try to "feel what you're feeling ". You must know that the cause of your feelings is not from being a failure or because of weakness.
- Get a routine: Create a routine which may be daily, morning, or evening. Creating a routine can provide a sense of control or structure. It will also provide you with the opportunity to create time for self-care strategies that can help manage the symptoms of depression and anxiety.
- Stick to a sleep schedule: Sleep deprivation can lead to problems that you can develop in relation to your immune, nervous, endocrine, and cardiovascular symptoms. If you don't get enough sleep, it may affect your mood and your daily activities. Your sleep schedule may be 7-8 hours every night. Try to stick to this so as not to complicate the symptoms of anxiety and depression.
- Exercise: Exercise is a good coping strategy to incorporate in your treatment. It's an effective way of managing mental health challenges generally. For anxiety and depression, exercise will help boost your mood and release hormones that will make you feel better. However, you must be mindful of the kinds of exercise you do. This is because exercise or a gym sometimes may trigger your feet and anxiety. In this situation, instead of going to a gym, you can do a 20 or 30 minutes walk around your neighborhood or engage in other forms of exercise that you can do right at home.
- Try to do what you can control: in this life, there are things you can control, there are others you can't. So, to relieve your condition, you can do somethings you can control. Some of these may include taking out the trash or making the bed. In sum, pick a task and get it done— this will give you a sense of power and accomplishment.
- Live a healthy lifestyle: You may need to change your lifestyle if it's not healthy. There are things that you do that can negatively influence your medical conditions, especially anxiety and depression. You should try your best to eat a healthy diet (diets rich in fruits, fish, nuts, high-quality meats, whole grains, and vegetables)
In addition, ensure that you avoid excessive intake of caffeine and alcohol — they can make your conditions worse. Also, smoking can increase the probability of you developing an anxiety disorder— you should quit it.
- Try relaxation techniques: Relaxation techniques can effectively help reduce the symptoms of depression and anxiety and also improve the quality of your life. Some of the relaxation techniques to use nay include meditation, yoga, good breathing exercises, and massage
When do you Need Professional Help for Depression and Anxiety?
It's important to see your doctor or a therapist when you begin to feel that something is wrong with your health or mental health. This is because depression and anxiety symptoms may get worse if you don't deal with them right away. As a matter of fact, the feelings may be overwhelming and negatively affect some important aspects of your life. So, talk with a licensed professional who is professionally trained to help you with the best treatment options which may include medication or therapy. Also, with the help of a mental health professional, you can manage and reduce your symptoms of anxiety and depression as safely and fast as possible.