Most people experience feelings of anxiety or depression at times. Grief, loss of a job, divorce, illness, and other stressors can lead to feelings of sadness, worry, frustration, and loneliness. These are normal reactions to difficult life situations.
Some people experience these feelings daily, without a known stressor. This can interfere with the ability to carry out every day activities such as getting to work on time, proper self-care, or caring for children. In this case, people might be suffering from depression, anxiety, or a combination of the two.
Depression and anxiety can co-occur. Studies show that between 10% and 20% of adults in any given 12-month period will visit their primary care physician during a depressive or anxiety disorder episode, and that nearly 50% of them will suffer from a co-morbid, secondary depressive or anxiety disorder.
The presence of co-occurring depressive and anxiety disorders is associated with greater chronicity, slower recovery, increased rates of recurrence, and psychosocial disability.
It’s always helpful to know what symptoms to watch for and the most effective treatments.
Symptoms of major depressive disorder
The essential feature of major depressive disorder is a period of two weeks during which there is either depressed mood most of the day nearly every day or loss of interest or pleasure in nearly all activities. Other potential symptoms include:
Symptoms of Generalized Anxiety DisorderThe essential feature of generalized anxiety disorder is excessive anxiety and worry about a number of events or activities. The intensity of the worry is out of proportion to the likelihood of the anticipated event. The excessive worry or anxiety occurs more days than not for a period of at least six months.
Anxiety and worry are associated with at least three (or more) of the following symptoms, with at least some symptoms present more often than not during the six-month period:
There are several features that separate generalized anxiety disorder from nonpathological anxiety.
Treatment of anxiety and depressionA treatment plan for co-occurring anxiety and depression should be designed to help the person manage and reduce symptoms of both disorders at the same time.
Several forms of psychotherapy are widely available and effective for both anxiety and depression.
Long-term, combined treatment (psychotherapy and medication management) is typically recommended for people with co-occurring anxiety and depression.