What are Depression and Anxiety?
Depression and anxiety are the two most common mental health disorders affecting Americans each year. Research by the Anxiety and Depression Association of America indicates that around 16 million Americans are suffering from depression, and around 40 million Americans have an anxiety disorder. Despite the fact that anxiety and depression often co-occur, they are indeed separate conditions.
Because depression and anxiety can share many of the same symptoms, it can sometimes be difficult to differentiate between the two. Additionally, many people assign incorrect symptoms to either depression or anxiety. Finding the correct treatment for depression or anxiety greatly depends on understanding the differences between the two disorders and the distinguishing characteristics of each.
Depression and anxiety may share an underlying biological basis. Both depression and persistent feelings of anxiety, the symptoms most commonly found in both depressive and anxiety disorders, are marked by changes in neurotransmitter function. The other neurotransmitters include serotonin, dopamine, or nor-epinephrine, may also play a role.
While there are biological similarities in how these mental health disorders spring up, depression and anxiety feel very different to people affected. From a certain point of view, depression and anxiety may actually be considered opposites or flipsides of each other.
Depression and anxiety, because of their close relation, can sometimes occur in reaction to each other, or they may also occur at the same time in a person. When both depression and anxiety symptoms can be clinically diagnosed at the same time, these disorders are then classified as comorbid conditions.
What are the symptoms of depression?
To be clinically diagnosed with Major Depressive Disorder, a person must experience five or more symptoms for a period of at least two weeks. Other depressive disorders may include persistent depressive disorder (dysthymia), premenstrual dysphoric disorder, seasonal affective disorder, or bipolar disorder (if they also have symptoms associated with manic depression).
Symptoms may include:
- Generally the depressed or sad mood
- Lack of interest in hobbies
- Insomnia or hypersomnia
- Increase or decrease in appetite
- Lack of energy
- Feelings of hopelessness or worthlessness
- Feelings of guilt
- Difficulty concentrating
- Suicidal thoughts or behaviors
What are the symptoms of anxiety?
Someone may be diagnosed with Generalized Anxiety Disorder if they have experienced symptoms most days for a period of more than six months, or if they are making it difficult to live a normal, healthy life. Some subsets of anxiety disorders can also include separation anxiety, PTSD, OCD, panic disorder, or agoraphobia, among others.
Symptoms may include:
- Excessive feelings of worry or anxiety
- Difficulty concentrating
- Muscle tension
- General irritability
- Disturbances in sleep patterns
How do these symptoms overlap?
As you can surmise from reading through the symptoms, depression and anxiety share a number of symptoms. Trouble concentrating or sleeping, fatigue, and irritability are all symptoms of both disorders, for instance.
That said, there are distinguishing features that can clue a person or a healthcare professional in on whether a person is suffering from depression or anxiety. Depression may make someone move more slowly, and their actions may seem dull or flattened. On the other hand, anxiety can make someone act more spastic as they fight off the intrusive, anxious thoughts.
Another clear distinction is how those affected by depression or anxiety will react to future events. Anxiety tends to make people more fearful of the future, while depression tends to put people into the mindset that things will continue to be bad.
What treatments are available?
Most traditional medications or treatments for depression and anxiety fall into a category known as reuptake inhibitors. Prime examples include selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) and serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs). Both of these medications target serotonin levels inside the brain in an attempt to dispel symptoms of depression and anxiety, but the exact role serotonin plays in either of these mental health disorders is still not known to medical science.
An exciting new treatment option, Ketamine infusions, maybe paving the way for new ways to find relief from the symptoms of depression and anxiety. Originally approved by the FDA as an anesthetic, research in the last decade has shown that when infused into the bloodstream at a low dose, Ketamine may bring relief from depression and anxiety symptoms within hours or even minutes for some. Other research indicates that up to 80% of patients may find relief from their symptoms.
Anxiety disorders are sometimes treated with benzodiazepines such as Xanax, Klonopin, or Valium. This family of medications only provides masking and temporary relief of symptoms and is not corrective. In fact, long-term use of benzodiazepines is linked with worsening mood, anxiety, and memory.
Why are depression and anxiety so closely linked?
Despite being two separate mental health disorders, depression and anxiety do share quite a few similarities when it comes to both symptoms and treatment.
Depression and anxiety frequently co-occur with one other. According to research done by the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, almost half as many people with a depressive disorder also suffer from an anxiety disorder. This is common because anxiety tends to lead to feelings of depression, and depression typically results in feelings of anxiousness.
What are similar symptoms of depression and anxiety?
While some of these symptoms may be more commonly associated with one of the two disorders, these symptoms are prevalent in both depression and anxiety:
- Trouble concentrating
- Feelings of isolation or withdrawal
- Changes in sleep patterns
- Lack of interest in hobbies
- What are the differences between depression and anxiety?
- Common characteristics of anxiety include the following:
- Intrusive, uncontrollable thoughts about something going wrong
- Intense worry about either short-term or long-term future
- Avoiding situations that could cause anxiety
Still, these mental markers may vary between different people. For instance, a generalized anxiety disorder may bring about feelings of worry about topics, activities, or events. But someone with a social anxiety disorder may instead fear negative interaction or rejection by others in social situations. Obsessions, which are unrealistic and intrusive thoughts that go beyond just everyday worries, typically indicate the presence of obsessive-compulsive disorder.
On the other hand, the common characteristics of depression may include:
Feelings of hopelessness or worthlessness
Disbelief that positive experiences can happen in the future
Thinking about death or suicide
When suffering from a depressive disorder, these characteristics may last most of the day, most days, for more than weeks at a time.
When should I seek treatment for depression or anxiety?
As soon as depression or anxiety begins to impact your everyday life, it is recommended that you seek help from your primary physician or mental health professional. Depression and anxiety can lead a person down a path of social isolation, falling behind at work or school, or even turning to substance abuse as a coping mechanism.
There is no shame or weakness in suffering from depression or anxiety (or both), and the chance that you will find a treatment option that works for you is higher than it the chance you will not.
Ketamine Treatment for Depression and Anxiety Is Helping Thousands
An innovative new treatment option, Ketamine has been found to provide rapid relief from depression and anxiety when infused at low doses. The FDA has recently approved Esketamine, a nasal spray comprised of a compound based on Ketamine, for the treatment of depression and other mood disorders. Research indicates that Ketamine stimulates the regrowth of synapses within the brain, essentially rewiring the parts of the brain that may be causing distress. Ketamine is also available as an infusion. Some researchers maintain a 75% success rate when treating those suffering from depression or anxiety with Ketamine Infusions.
If you are interested in learning more about Ketamine Therapy for Depression In Chicago, contact us at 630.607.0387 to schedule a consultation.