While anxiety and depression are two very different conditions, they often go hand in hand. Although anxiety does not cause depression, it can lead to it.

Anxiety can be treated with anti-depressant medication which causes confusion because people then wonder if they are in fact depressed. This is not necessarily the case, because feelings of depression will lift when the anxiety is brought under control.

What is anxiety?

The symptoms vary from person to person and there are different types too. Generally, a clinician will diagnose anxiety when one or a combination of the following symptoms are present:

  • A constant sense of doubt and uncertainty about future events
  • Irrational fears and a feeling of impending doom
  • Physical symptoms like nausea, sweating and increased heart rate
  • Compulsive behaviors that attempt to ease the anxiety

Types of anxiety

Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD)

Feelings of anxiety are experienced most days with constant worrying, and lasts for a period of six months or more.

Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

Commonly occurring after a traumatic event, such as war, assault or disaster. Patients experience frequent nightmares and flashbacks to the event.

Phobias

The patient has an irrational fear of a specific object or situation and will go out of their way to avoid it.

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD)

The patient experiences intrusive thoughts and fears that cause anxiety. They try to relieve them by obsessively following certain repetitive rituals.

Social anxiety

An intense fear of being ridiculed, criticized or humiliated. Even in normal every-day social interactions.

Panic disorder

Panic attacks, coupled with intense fear and an overwhelming sense of doom. Physical symptoms are in the form of dizziness, sweating and shaking, shortness of breath and chest pain.

What is depression?

Depression is when you are persistently overwhelmed by feelings of hopelessness and pessimism. Symptoms include:

  • Persistent sad and “empty” mood
  • Loss of interest in activities previously enjoyed
  • Feelings of worthlessness, guilt and helplessness
  • Insomnia, low energy and fatigue
  • Thoughts of death and possible suicide attempts

Possible causes of anxiety and related depression

There are several factors that can lead to anxiety or exacerbate existing feelings. These factors include outside influences like work, school or relationship stress.

Underlying medical issues like side effects from medication or an undiagnosed illness, genetics, brain chemistry and substance abuse, can also trigger depression.

Treatment options to consider

Fortunately, there are many treatment options available to help relieve anxiety. Regular exercise, a healthy diet and relaxation techniques like yoga or meditation are key components of a treatment plan, as are counseling and support groups.

It is vital to obtain medical advice and begin treatment the moment you start feeling anxious. The condition only gets worse as time passes, if left untreated.

Talk to someone, get out of the rut and make a positive change in your life to break the anxiety cycle that may lead to depression.