Anxiety and depression are fast friends. But we knew that, didn’t we? And that statement brings some questions to mind (literally).
When we consider the dynamics of anxiety and depression, can depression actually be generated by anxiety? Can anxiety be triggered by depression? Since anxiety and depression share much of the same neurochemistry, is it possible that they present independently of each other?
Now, it makes perfect sense to me that most any presentation of anxiety could trigger some degree of depression. What would it matter if the primary issue is panic attacks, phobias, obsessions, compulsions, agoraphobia, derealization, depersonalization, or trauma flashbacks? I mean, these phenomena are all emotionally overbearing.
And I don’t think we have to be mini-Siggies to know episodes of depression can generate anxiety. If we examine the psychological contributors to anxiety, we know it’s generated as an alarm response to a perceived danger. So whether we’re experiencing a major depressive episode or a bout with dysthymia, within the psyche depression can very easily equate to danger.
Finally, the coexistence of anxiety and depression may well be grounded in the dynamics of the neurotransmitters, serotonin and norepinephrine. Oh, by the way, that’s serotonin on the left and norepinephrine on the right upstairs.
As discussed in a previous post, these two influence each other through what’s known as a feedback loop. If an individual’s brain can’t maintain sufficient levels of serotonin, and norepinephrine can’t stimulate a boost, the presence of serotonin plummets; the result of which is thought to be symptoms of anxiety and depression.
Look, is it a coincidence that, with the exception of the benzodiazepines, the selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) are the most commonly prescribed meds for the anxiety disorders and depression? And what about the selective serotonin norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SSNRIs)? These are all antidepressants.
So a dual presentation of anxiety and depression may not have anything to do with one egging-on the other.
As a counselor, I can tell you the typical presentation of disruptive anxiety is accompanied by some degree of depression. And many depressive presentations include an anxiety sidebar.
So what’s the point? A couple of things, actually.
We, at all times, have to be as well versed on our anxiety and mood pathology as possible. Secondly, it’s important to understand depression is a frequent companion of anxiety because if we’re aware of the relationship, we’re less likely to be alarmed when the dynamic duo presents. Finally, the relief strategies and techniques for one are often efficacious for the other.
I’ll be including much more about depression, elevated mood as well, as we move forward with the blog. The interaction of anxiety and mood is too important to ignore.
Are you an anxiety sufferer feeling depressed? Are you a depression sufferer feeling anxious? What next steps can you take to better understand and remedy your circumstances?