What is the link between depression and anxiety disorders?

Amen Clinics, Inc.
Administration
Anxiety and depression are not simple disorders. They occur together 75% of the time. These disorders are, in large part, the result of brain dysfunction. There are many forms of anxiety and depression -- seven different types, or patterns, within the brain have been identified. There are a number of effective treatments that are specific to each type. Identifying your type lends to a more precise, targeted treatment plan that simply works better, while reducing the likelihood of negative side effects. 
Charles J. Sophy, MD
Adolescent Medicine
It is common for someone with an anxiety disorder to also suffer from depression or vice versa. Nearly one-half of those diagnosed with depression are also diagnosed with an anxiety disorder. People with depression often experience symptoms similar to those of an anxiety disorder, such as nervousness, irritability, and problems sleeping and concentrating. But each disorder has its own causes and its own emotional and behavioral symptoms.

Generalized anxiety can evolve into depression. Other forms of anxiety, such as PTSD and panic disorders, are linked to depression. In this video, Tarique Perera, MD, a psychiatrist with Contemporary Care of Connecticut, elaborates.

Depression and anxiety disorders are different, but people with depression often experience symptoms similar to those of an anxiety disorder, such as nervousness, irritability, and problems sleeping and concentrating. But each disorder has its own causes and its own emotional and behavioral symptoms. Anxiety, like depression, frequently begins with a stressful event such as the death of a loved one; however, in many cases there are no identifiable triggers. There is evidence from recent studies that suggest that the two disorders may be more linked than scientists have previously thought.
Two-thirds of people with anxiety disorders also suffer from depression at some point in their lives, and 58% of people with depression also have an anxiety disorder. This combination is so common that many mental health experts now consider it a distinct disorder, known as mixed anxiety-depressive disorder (MADD). The hallmark of MADD is pronounced anxiety and rumination -- often veering toward morbid thoughts -- that occurs during an episode of major depression. Women are more likely than men to be diagnosed with MADD.

The presence of depression in people with anxiety disorders increases the severity of the illnesses, the likelihood of alcohol or substance abuse, and the risk of suicide. It also reduces the chances that treatment will succeed, unless both disorders are fully treated.

In other cases, people may have one of these disorders first, recover from it, and then develop the other. Anxiety can also be a symptom of depressive disorders, and depression can be a symptom of anxiety disorders.

Anxiety and depression are much more closely linked than was once thought. Many scientists now believe that anxiety and depression are different expressions of a single, shared underlying biological problem. They point out, for example, that the same kinds of abnormalities in neurotransmitters (chemical messengers in the brain) that promote depression can also trigger anxiety. Researchers have also found that the brain structures that react to perceived threats are hypersensitive in some people who have either depression or anxiety disorders, or both.

Continue Learning about Anxiety

Anxiety

Anxiety

It's one thing to be nervous (adrenaline can even help you power through, say, an interview). It's another to suffer sweat-inducing, heart-pounding anxiety -- for no apparent reason -- that makes eating, sleeping, working or enjoy...

ing life difficult. In addition to generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), learn about panic disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and phobias.
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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.