Many people are no strangers to depression and anxiety. At some point in their lives, they would have experienced a feeling of emptiness or loneliness, which clinically can be diagnosed as depression and severe anxiety. People are more prone to experience depression and severe anxiety as compared to other psychological disorders. It is a good thing that depression has already been clinically diagnosed and categorized with a list of symptoms and causes, which means that treatment programs have already been developed for it.
Anxiety and depression are often lumped together because they share many similar symptoms and one is often a symptom of the other. Treatments (therapy, medication) for both cases also overlap. Stress, fatigue, hopelessness, irritability, self-doubt, sadness, and anger are common symptoms of anxiety and depression.
The Relation Between Depression and Severe Anxiety
Studies have shown that about 58% of those people who suffer from depression also show symptoms of anxiety disorder. Because of the resemblance of symptoms, experts oftentimes agree that depression and severe anxiety occur at the same time. The level of the depression and severe anxiety is what makes the difference. There are currently two clinical terms used for when depression and severe anxiety merge with each other:
1. Agitated depression is anxiety depression characterized with heightened restlessness, insomnia, panic, a general sense of doom and suicide. It is actually a form of depression that presents itself as an anxiety.
2. Akathitic depression is anxiety depression characterized with suicide tendencies without symptoms of panic.
Because of the sometimes merging of these two psychological illnesses, medical experts agree that psychologists should take into consideration the presence of the symptoms of both depression and anxiety to have a more accurate diagnosis.
Anxiety and Depression – Depression as an Illness, Anxiety as a Symptom
Since depression is associated with so many feelings, it often happens that a patient is diagnosed as having more than one type of depression.
The type of depression most associated with anxiety as a symptom is Bipolar or Manic Depression, which involves extreme mood fluctuations. Bipolar refers to the mood swings that divide into two parts: the ups (called mania, hence the illnesses other name) and the downs (depression).
During mania, patients experience an energy surge and euphoria or severe irritability and anger. Again, time is a key factor. Manic episodes can last all day for a week or longer.
It is during depression, that anxiety takes place, along with sadness, pessimism, and even guilt. This usually lasts for two weeks.
A two-week episode of anxiety may really be an episode of the downs that is part of bipolar depression that is why prolonged observation is needed to diagnose the exact illness.
If treatment seeks to address the root cause of the illness, then the distinction must be made between anxiety and depression.
Symptoms Of Depression
The feeling of sadness or emptiness that seems to overwhelm the person.
-Loss of focus.
-Mental and physical fatigue.
-Insomnia and other disturbed-sleep patterns.
-A noticeable change in appetite or loss of weight.
-Feelings of guilt, nervousness and other similar emotions at an intense level.
Symptoms Of Anxiety
-A feeling of choking leading to a sense of shortness of breath.
-Nausea and dizziness.
-Losing a sense of reality.
-Trembling and sweating.
-Numbness and tingling sensations.
-Hot flushes or chills.
Anxiety attacks that often recur are symptoms of some type of mental illness. Depression is a frequent cause. A lot of phobias can be accompanied by anxiety attacks. One of the most effective treatments for anxiety attacks is cognitive behavioral therapy. This form of therapy focuses on the modifying the thinking patterns of patients. Many psychologists have observed that during anxiety attacks people over-exaggerate their fears and have irrational thoughts.
Techniques done to modify these behaviors include forcing patients to modify thinking patterns. They are instructed to force themselves to think about other things when an attack happens. Doing this repeatedly can discipline the mind of the patient – this breaks the unhealthy habit.
Another method that psychologists use to help treat patients is to train them to do breathing exercises. This involves making them take deep breaths at the onset of anxiety attacks. This improves oxygen intake, relaxes, and calms down the individual. Psychologists also use other stress relief and calming techniques, but these will depend on the patient. Using medication to treat an anxiety attack symptom is the last resort.