Anxiety is about more than merely being nervous or worried, especially when dealing with anxiety-provoking situations. Along those same lines, depression is about more than being sad or feeling blue.
What’s more; is that both of them are increasingly common, diagnosable mental health disorders. Each disorder presents a unique challenge in terms of diagnosis, managing symptoms, and creating a plan for recovery.
But what happens when you’re struggling with both anxiety and depression symptoms? Although this is not an unusual scenario, fortunately, there are ways you can cope.
Many variations of anxiety exist, including:
- Generalized Anxiety Disorder
- Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD)
- Social Phobia (or Social Anxiety Disorder)
- Panic Disorder
- Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
Each variation presents with different symptoms, mental and sometimes physical ones. Even so, there are some signs and symptoms they share in common, such as edginess, sleep disturbances, panic attacks, hands and feet become sweaty or cold or tingling, heart palpitations, nausea, dry mouth, shortness of breath, and inability to calm oneself.
Depression also has a multitude of variations, including:
- Major depression
- Bipolar disorder
- Perinatal depression
- Seasonal affective disorder (SAD)
- Situational depression
As with anxiety, each variety of depression presents with different symptoms. There are also many myths about depression to dispel. But some common signs and symptoms are losing interest in activities you once enjoyed, unexplained anger or irritability, fatigue and lethargy, weight loss or gain, loss of focus, withdrawal from social interactions, morbid fixation on death, and dark thoughts (including suicide).
When Anxiety and Depression Coexist
Some medical experts refer to anxiety and depression as being two sides of the same coin. Called comorbidity, this mix of these two disorders tends to make symptoms far more severe.
Frequently in this case, many general health practitioners have difficulty differentiating between anxiety and depression. Depression can cause anyone to feel anxious, which can feel depressing.
Most often, anxiety precedes depression. Unless treated, anxiety can lead to depression as the patient ages. A significant link between the two disorders lies in our perception.
We tend to overestimate risk while underestimating our ability to cope. This mindset leads to an avoidance of fearful situations rather than an effort to address the root causes. This link is most evident in cases where depression follows social anxiety.
How to Cope with Both Anxiety and Depression Symptoms
In terms of what we can do for ourselves, it can be summed up in two words: lifestyle changes. Following are a handful of positive changes you can make to help manage both anxiety and depression symptoms.
Regular Sleep Patterns to Ease Anxiety & Depression Symptoms
Irregular sleep makes everything feel and seem worse. Aim for 7-8 hours a night—ideally, with consistent rest and wake times.
Healthy Eating Habits for Improved Mood
Food influences mood. Work with a licensed dietician or nutritionist to understand the eating style that best matches your needs and tastes.
Daily Exercise and Activity to Help with Anxiety & Depression Management
Everything from joining a gym to taking regular stretch breaks throughout our day is a valuable self-help tool.
Stress Management & Relaxation Techniques to Cope with Anxiety & Depression
Stress feeds the cycle. It makes us anxious, which inevitably triggers our depression. Knowing how to calm your nervous system and manage stress can help stop the negative cycle.
Avoiding Addictive and Unhealthy Substances for Your Mental Health
Depending on the situation, this may mean alcohol, smoking, recreational drugs, and more. Instead, find a healthy distraction or way of coping.
Social Support to Help Manage Anxiety & Depression
Depression and anxiety can push us toward isolation. Talk to someone—a trusted family member, longtime friend, counselor—to reverse this trend.
It Helps to Have Help with Anxiety & Depression
Either anxiety or depression alone is reason enough to seek help. The combination can make seeking treatment feel even more urgent. But what does help look like?
A proven treatment approach involves mental health counseling. Each week, along with an anxiety & depression therapist, you’ll work to:
- identify root causes and triggers
- recognize how depression and anxiety are changing your life
- develop new skills and coping mechanisms
All of this is done with long-term recovery in mind. Committing to therapy helps you accept both your needs and your ability to heal.
therapy columbus ohio
If anxiety and depression team up to impact your life, you can team up with a mental health counselor to take your life back! And it doesn’t have to be an in-person meeting; online therapy has many benefits and is also a very effective way to get the support you need. If you’re struggling with anxiety or depression (or both) and it’s time to seek treatment from a professional and empathetic Columbus OH counseling practice, please reach out and contact Blue Boat Counseling today. Our skilled anxiety & depression counselors are here to help you manage both sets of symptoms.