From starting a new job to losing a loved one, there's virtually no escape from the curveballs life can throw at you. All of it can take a toll on your mental health.
Feelings of sadness and worry are normal. But when those emotions become chronic and overwhelm you, it could be a more concerning mental health issue, like anxiety or depression.
Though they're two distinct conditions, it's not uncommon for them to occur together. People with depression often experience anxiety symptoms and vice versa.
For this reason, distinguishing between them can be tricky at best. Dr. Mark Rybakov has years of experience helping patients in the Brooklyn and Manhattan areas of New York City, New York through their mental health battles.
Here's everything you should know about anxiety and depression and what it looks like when you have both simultaneously.
Anxiety and depression are different mental health conditions with varying mental and physical symptoms. Understanding their differences is key to determining if you have one or the other or both. Here's a closer look.
When you have anxiety, you constantly feel fear, uneasiness, tension, and worry. Usually, these feelings are triggered by something with an uncertain outcome or things that haven't happened yet. Mental signs of anxiety often include:
- Worry about immediate or long-term future
- Intense desire to escape a situation
- Thoughts about death due to perceived risk
Some physical markers of anxiety are:
- Difficulty concentration as a result of racing thoughts
- Trouble falling and staying asleep
- Chronic fatigue
- Gastrointestinal problems, such as constipation or diarrhea
- Increased heart rate
These symptoms can negatively impact your life at school and work and disrupt your relationships.
When people hear "depression," they often think of sadness, but depression is much more than "feeling down." Depressive disorders often entail a pervasive feeling of hopelessness that affects every area of your well-being.
Where anxiety causes worry about the unknown, those with depression already expect the situation to be bad and can't imagine another outcome.
Mental indicators of depression may include:
- Feelings of hopelessness, worthlessness, and pessimism
- Thinking about death
- Feeling as though life isn't worth living
Physical symptoms often include:
- Changes in appetite
- Gaining or losing weight unintentionally
- Difficulty sleeping
- Sleeping too much
- Trouble concentrating or making decisions
- Loss of interest in hobbies
- Headaches, back pain, and aching muscles
Depression may become so severe that you begin to have suicidal thoughts. If that's true, get emergency medical attention as soon as possible.
When anxiety and depression collide
So, what about having both anxiety and depression at the same time? This is quite common, as the two conditions often co-occur. Many of the symptoms of depression and anxiety overlap and they are among the most common comorbidities in mental health.
Research shows that up to 60% of people with depression also have anxiety. One of the leading theories suggests that similar biological mechanisms are at play, so they're more likely to show up together. The same hormones (serotonin, dopamine, and epinephrine) are involved in anxiety and depression.
It can be difficult to diagnose two mental illnesses, but not impossible. That's why it's so important to talk to us about all of your symptoms, even if you don't think they're relevant. Giving the full picture of your mental and physical well-being helps us reach the most accurate diagnosis.
Many doctors focus on identifying and addressing one illness, but we know how often comorbidities occur, so we leave no stone unturned.
If you feel like you're struggling with anxiety and depression, seek help from a mental health professional like Dr. Rybakov. We help you understand your symptoms, identify triggers, and develop a personalized treatment plan addressing both conditions.
Our treatment plans for anxiety and depression include a range of approaches, including therapy, medication, lifestyle changes, and self-care strategies. Psychotherapy (talk therapy) can help you learn new coping skills and change negative thought patterns.
We can also prescribe antidepressants or anti-anxiety medications, but we usually combine them with therapy as medication alone is not always effective.
Stop wondering about what's going on with your mental health and start taking steps towards a happier, healthier life. Call or click to schedule a consultation with Dr. Rybakov today.