Having Anxiety AND Depression can be Exhausting
Do you feel like your thoughts constantly race, then come abruptly to a standstill? Do you feel like there is so much you should be doing but you lack the energy? Do you beat yourself up for being a failure? Do you get caught up in a spiral of negative thoughts, but can't motivate yourself to get up off of the couch?
Scenarios like this can be quite common if you are suffering from both Anxiety and Depression. It is difficult having one mental health disorder, but it can feel almost debilitating when you have two.
Anxiety and Depression can frequently occur together. According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness,
Some estimates show that 60% of those with anxiety will also have symptoms of depression, and the numbers are similar for those with depression also experiencing anxiety.
I am one of those people that has both Anxiety and Depression. I also have PTSD, which muddies the waters as well. Getting multiple mental illnesses in check can require a great deal of work on coping skills. It helps to receive treatment from a trained professional, and in many cases medication is recommended as well.
There are several things we do know about comorbid anxiety and depression, however, and they underscore this need for accurate assessment. When anxiety and depression present together, these illnesses can often be harder to treat. This is because both the anxiety and depression symptoms tend to be more persistent and intense when “working” together.
This means that those experiencing both anxiety and depression will need better, more specialized treatments. Professionals and caregivers providing treatment may need to get creative, like adding one treatment onto another to make sure that both underlying disorders are responding. For example, if antidepressants are helping improve a person’s mood, but not their anxiety, a next step would be to add cognitive behavioral therapy to the treatment plan.
As someone who has gone through this process, I can tell you how difficult it is to get the right treatment and medications for multiple mental health conditions. I was diagnosed with depression as a teen, but was not diagnosed with Anxiety until I was in my 30's, although the symptoms had always been present.
Once I was able to get treatment for my anxiety as well as my depression, I was able to learn coping skills to deal with my racing thoughts, as well as medication to help with my physical anxiety symptoms.
If you have been diagnosed with one mental health disorder, but you still feel that you are experiencing additional symptoms after spending some time in treatment, you may want to talk to your provider to make sure that your diagnosis is, in fact, correct.
At times, you will receive a wrong diagnosis when you have multiple mental health issues. Sometimes, you will be diagnosed as having Bipolar if you have both anxiety and depression, because of the fluctuations in your mood. However, the racing thoughts that you see with anxiety aren't a part of a manic state like you experience with Bipolar.
Some of the other symptoms, like sleeplessness, may be common to both disorders as well. However, depending on the cause of the symptoms, the treatments and medications will be different for each one. This is why having a correct diagnosis for your condition is so important. That way, you can make sure to get a treatment plan that is tailored to work for you.
According to Healthline, if you have both anxiety and depression:
Symptoms you could experience with either condition include:
changes in sleep patterns
changes in energy level
trouble with concentration, focus, and memory
aches and pains or stomach issues that have no clear cause
Rumination can also happen with both conditions. In basic terms, rumination refers to a persistent loop of dark, sad, or other negative thoughts. You may not want these thoughts, but you still can’t seem to stop thinking them.
If you are experiencing any of these symptoms for longer than two weeks, it is extremely important to speak with a mental health professional right away. By getting yourself into treatment, this is the quickest way to begin to feel better about yourself and your life.
It is possible to learn with practice to cope with all of your negative thoughts. You can learn to question their truth, and separate yourself from your thoughts, but this takes practice, and is easier if you have a support system in place to help you through your difficult times.
According to Healthline, here are some types of therapies that can be helpful to treat both depression and anxiety:
Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) teaches techniques to identify, challenge, and reframe unwanted thoughts and behavior patterns.
Mindfulness-based cognitive therapy teaches mindfulness techniques along with behavioral techniques to help you begin to manage unwanted feelings and stay present through them instead of becoming overwhelmed.
Acceptance and commitment therapy teaches strategies to accept unwanted or distressing thoughts, stay present, and commit to positive activities that fulfill your personal values.
Problem-solving therapy. This approach teaches using coping skills to manage mental health symptoms and life experiences that cause stress and other emotional turmoil.
One or more of these types of therapy, combined in some cases with medication, can help you learn to cope with depression and anxiety so that you don't feel constantly overwhelmed with your symptoms on a daily basis anymore.
In order to get into therapy, you can speak with your family doctor to get a referral, or go to do an intake appointment at a community mental health center. It is often helpful to refer to your insurance webpage for a list of providers, and you can find out if they specialize in the issues that you are struggling with prior to scheduling an appointment.
If you are having a mental health emergency, you can call a crisis hotline, or walk into a crisis center or emergency room to speak with someone right away.
If you are having suicidal thoughts, you can reach out to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline by dialing 988.
Remember, no matter what you have been through in the past, or what symptoms you may be experiencing, there is always hope. You can find healing and learn coping skills in therapy that can benefit you for the rest of your life.