Anxiety and depression are intimately related. It is often thought that problems and mental disorders are like fish ponds in where the affected person is isolated in a specific and hermetic category of psychology.
However, the truth is that most of the time that pond does not exist. The disorders are combined, presenting all or some of their characteristic symptoms and affecting each other. It is possible that one type of mental disorder favours the appearance of another overtime or, simply, that two or more of these disorders appear derived from disparate causes.
Good examples of this are anxiety and depression. These are two specific disorders that can be suffered separately, but often appear combined in what is called the mixed anxiety-depressive disorder (MADD). How is anxiety manifested? And depression?
Anxiety and depression: Are they similar?
Anxiety and depression are two different disorders that have their own diagnosis, causes, symptoms and prevalence. However, they are not exclusive disorders, since, although depression and anxiety have their own symptoms, they can occur at the same time.
- High level of negative affect. In both disorders, there is a high level of emotional pain. This is expressed through internal suffering, low mood, feelings of guilt, discomfort, irritability, bad mood or susceptibility.
- Low self-esteem and deep feelings of helplessness. Anxiety and depression also have in common that the one who suffers from them feels unable to face the circumstances and difficulties in their life, even those that are not particularly important challenges. The feeling of doubt, inability and denial overwhelm their mind.
- Food and sleep. It is possible that alterations appear in their sleeping patterns, either insomnia due to the difficulty to reconcile sleep it or lack of energy after rest. As for food, changes in appetite may occur implying increases or decreases in weight. Here you can read more about food anxiety.
Symptoms that do not match
- Anhedonia. Depression shows a low level of positive affect, which leads to an inability for pleasure or satisfaction. The person suffering from depression does not find pleasure in anything that surrounds them. However, the person who suffers anxiety can find satisfaction in their day-to-day.
- Hyperactivation. In anxiety disorders, there may be great activation, a high energy response. This occurs when the person predicts damage (a foresight called anticipation) making the body feel nervous and active by showing a high energy level and tension that has no practical outcome.
What is mixed anxiety-depressive disorder?
In MADD, symptoms of both anxiety and depression are observed. In this case, the separate diagnosis is not justified because the necessary assessment criteria for each of them are not met, and because there is no special prominence of one over the other. Thus, the mixed anxiety-depressive disorder is not as intense as depression or as pure anxiety, although undoubtedly the combination of both really affects those who suffer from it.
In this disorder, even symptoms that seem antagonistic may appear, such as hyperactivation and low energy level. The person who suffers from this mixed disorder may have tension, excessive worry and stages of panic, intrusive thoughts, tachycardia, stomach pains, tremors, etc., which appear along with low mood, low energy and anhedonia.
To be considered mixed anxiety-depressive disorder, combined symptoms must last a minimum of two weeks or a month. They should not be derived from other disorders or from traumatic experiences. If this happens, then it might not be a mixed anxiety-depressive disorder.
Emerging from mixed anxiety-depressive disorder
Anxiety and depression are independent disorders with their own ways of healing. In the treatment of cases of mixed disorder, the therapist uses techniques and strategies selected from both treatments in order to improve the well-being and quality of life and end the patient’s feelings of anguish. If you find yourself in this situation, a health professional specialized in this area would be of great help.
In this sense, online therapy can be really useful, since it allows you to face anxiety attacks and low moods from the tranquillity and comfort of your own house. It is in this safe space where the online therapist will provide solutions for both, situations of anxiety and to see life from a more productive point of view.
Growing out of this disorder is possible: you will have the energy to do it, you will end negative thoughts, you will enjoy the results and you will lose the fear of trying. Goodbye, depression. Goodbye, anxiety.
If you want to improve your level of well-being, in TherapyChat we can help you. We are international leaders in online psychology and we have the right therapist for you.