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Can Anxiety Cause Depression?

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You have unexplainable fear surrounding everyday situations, are constantly sad, and have trouble focusing daily on things needed to function. You could be suffering from normal anxiety which, in turn, may be triggering depressive symptoms. If you have symptoms of either, you can still be productive with the right care.

What Is Anxiety?

Anxiety is a feeling of fear, dread, and uneasiness. It might cause you to sweat, feel restless and tense, and have a rapid heartbeat. It can be a normal reaction to stress. For example, you might feel anxious when faced with a difficult problem at work, before taking a test, or before making an important decision. It can help you to cope.” But for people with anxiety disorders, the fear persists and can be overpowering.

What Is Depression?

Depression should never be confused as a case of the blues, a weakness, or something you can wish away. It’s a mood disorder resulting in persistent feelings of sadness and loss of interest. Also called clinical depression, “it affects how you feel, think and behave and can lead to a variety of emotional and physical problems. You may have trouble doing normal day-to-day activities, and sometimes you may feel as if life isn’t worth living.”

Know The Risks

Ultimately, the symptoms of anxiety and depression can be managed with psychotherapy, certain medicines, or newer forms of treatment like ketamine – but it’s incumbent upon you to know the risks of each and get diagnosed before starting any kind of therapy. 

Risk factors

  • Personality traits like poor self-esteem and being overly dependent, self-critical, or cynical.
  • Traumatic or stressful events.
  • You have a blood relative with depression, alcoholism, bipolar disorder, or suicidal tendencies.
  • You experienced intense trauma as a child, which means you’re at higher risk of developing an anxiety disorder later as an adult.
  • Stress and worry due to a serious illness. 
  • Stressors can build up, leading to excessive anxiety. This could include a big event or the accumulation of many small stressors, such as the death of a loved one, ongoing financial worries, or relationship problems.
  • Your personality. People with specific personality types are more susceptible to anxiety disorders than someone else.

Can Anxiety Cause Depression?

Most doctors or mental health professionals will tell you that anxiety and depression are intricately linked and can occur at the same time. If you’re depressed, you may feel uneasy about certain things because it’s hard to maintain perspective when you’re under stress. 

As to the specific question – can anxiety cause depression? – Dr. Monica Cain, a Nightingale Hospital London-based psychologist, said that anxiety can trigger depression: “If anxiety is left untreated and you try to manage the worrying and catastrophizing through avoidance, eventually those strategies are likely to stop working. That’s when you’re at high risk of depression.”

No one knows for certain what causes anxiety and depression, but there are several likely suspects for each. It’s important to not make general assumptions about possible causes but, rather, talk to a doctor for more information.

Common causes for anxiety

  • Heart disease
  • Diabetes
  • Thyroid problems
  • Respiratory disorders
  • Drug misuse or withdrawal
  • Withdrawal from anti-anxiety medications, alcohol, or other medicines
  • Irritable bowel syndrome or chronic pain 

Common causes for depression

  • Biological differences, particularly with physical changes in the brains of certain people.
  • Faulty brain chemicals, or neurotransmitters, like glutamate. Neurotransmitters are organic brain chemicals that probably have a role in depression, especially if they’re weak or damaged.
  • Variations in your body’s mix of hormones could be implicated as a cause or trigger.
  • Depression may be an inherited trait, especially amongst people whose blood relatives suffer from this condition.

Diagnosis & Treatment

Anxiety and depression are interwoven like fibers in a piece of tapestry. The best way to treat either is first getting diagnosed, which may involve:

  • A physical examination by a medical doctor, to look for a medical cause of symptoms.
  • A mental health assessment by someone who specializes in either condition, to ascertain your mental health and whether there’s a history of it among your blood relatives.
  • Comparing symptoms of either to criteria in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition.

Treatment normally follows diagnosis and may involve psychotherapy, self-help, medicine, or something like ketamine infusion therapy.

Final Thoughts

Anxiety and depression are two of the most common mental health ailments in America, collectively affecting nearly 60 million adults annually. If you’re one of them, you’re more than a number. Recognizing your symptoms is an important first step. Contact us today to learn more about how we can help you find relief.

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