Depression and anxiety appear to be two different emotional responses humans are capable of having. We do not usually associate these two disorders with each other. But research has shown that depression and anxiety do in fact co-exist, much to the detriment of their sufferers.
When you picture someone with depression you think of all the normal symptoms associated with it: Despair, hopelessness, anger, fatigue, an unwillingness to be a part of society and a feeling of being overwhelmed by everyday life. A depressed person withdraws into themselves and seek to sever all ties with the outside world.
Anxiety attacks on the other hand seem to happen for no reason at all. Feelings of fear and panic happen in situations in which most people would be perfectly calm. These anxiety attacks come on suddenly with no warning and with no outright reason for them to happen. After a while a sufferer of these attacks begins to live in fear of the attacks themselves, wondering when the next one is going to happen. Before long, and without treatment, both anxiety attacks and depression can begin to affect the sufferer’s lives in negative ways by not allowing them to hold a job, have a relationship, or even go out into society
What many sufferers of these two diseases do not realize is that either one can lead to the other. Being depressed can weigh heavily on the mind leading the depressed person through a maze of different emotions. This in itself can lead to anxiety and eventually panic attacks. Panic attacks signify a loss of control and when this happens more and more often the sufferer can become depressed with their situation of not knowing if and when the next attack will occur.
Why these two disorders seem to occur at the same time is still largely unknown. But many studies show that major depression is often accompanied by an anxiety disorder. Both are likely caused by an imbalance in brain chemistry, but exactly why the two seemingly opposite disorders can coexist in the same person is not completely understood. What is understood about an anxiety disorder is that the fight-or-flight reaction in the brain does not work the way it is supposed to. It can go off at any time, even in seemingly peaceful situations. Those who have anxiety disorder always feel that they are in danger.
One thing that psychologists agree on is that having a combination of depression and anxiety is much more debilitating than having just one or the other. It can take patients with both disorders a much longer amount of time to resolve their depression which makes treating them much harder. It has also been shown that people who suffer from anxiety and depression both have a much higher suicide rate.
While this sounds bad, there are options for treating both these conditions. Anti-depressant medications can be used to treat both depression and anxiety. When these medications are used in conjunction with behavioural therapy there is a high success rate of treating depression accompanied by anxiety.