Could I Have Both Anxiety and Depression?
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Jun 9, 2020 • 4 min read
In medicine when someone experiences two conditions at the same time, doctors call it a “comorbidity”. Depression and anxiety have long been thought of as comorbid, but increasingly research suggests that these two conditions may be even more closely linked.
Depression and anxiety are not the same, but they share a lot of biological mechanisms and symptoms, and many people experiencing one condition will also experience the other. Doctors don't know exactly why they so often occur together, but theories include: the possibility that receptors in the brain that trigger anxiety and depression have connected pathways; that similar symptoms make them more likely to be diagnosed together; and that both are triggered by external stressors.
So what does it mean to have anxiety and depression together, and how are these conditions treated? Here is an overview of both, how they are similar, and your treatment options to consider.
What Is Anxiety?
Anxiety is the most common mental health disorder, affecting around 40 million people in the U.S. every year. While some stress can actually be healthy, constant or seemingly uncontrollable stress that interferes with daily tasks signals an anxiety disorder.
It’s important to separate everyday anxiety — such as being stressed about an upcoming job interview or a big deadline — from an anxiety disorder. The former is a natural response to difficult situations, while the latter can be debilitating.
Symptoms of anxiety disorders (including panic and phobia disorders) include:
Feelings of restlessness or being “on edge”
Fatigue and irritability
Racing heartbeat, sweating, and shaking
Shortness of breath
Feeling out of control or having a sense of impending doom
What Is Depression?
Most people will also experience depression, and feeling sad sometimes is normal. However, when feelings persist for more than two weeks and you lose interest in everyday activities, it could be a depressive disorder.
Symptoms of depression include:
Feeling sad, anxious, and empty
Feeling hopeless or pessimistic about the future
Irritability and restlessness
Loss of interest in daily activities
Difficulty concentrating or remembering things
Appetite or weight change
Treating Both Conditions Together
There are medications available to help those who suffer from anxiety and depression at the same time. These drugs generally work by affecting neurotransmitters, the tiny chemical messengers brain cells release to communicate with each other.
The most common anxiety and depression medications include:
Serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs) like duloxetine (generic Cymbalta) increase serotonin and norepinephrine (neurotransmitters that regulate mood and energy) levels in the brain by preventing them from being reabsorbed into the cells that released them.
Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) like sertraline (generic Zoloft) are like SNRIs, but only prevent the reabsorption of serotonin (not norepinephrine).
Benzodiazepines like diazepam (generic Valium) suppress anxiety-provoking nerve activity in the brain by enhancing a neurotransmitter called GABA (gamma-aminobutyric acid).
Tricyclic antidepressants like desipramine (generic Norpramin) are similar to SNRIs, but come with more side effects and are usually only prescribed when SNRIs aren't an option.
To determine which medication is right for you, your doctor will take symptoms and side effects into consideration, along with any medication interactions and additional health conditions you have. Cost and health insurance can play a role, as well as whether you are pregnant or breastfeeding. Before taking any medication for anxiety or depression, talk to your doctor about all the drugs available, side effects, risks, and benefits. Finding relief from anxiety and depression is possible with the right care and the right medication. If your treatment plan includes new medications, check to see if your prescription is available for less with Blink Health.
This article is not medical advice. It is intended for general informational purposes and is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. If you think you may have a medical emergency, immediately call your physician or dial 911.
Blink Health is not insurance. The discount prescription drug provider is Blink Health Administration, LLC, 1407 Broadway, Suite 2100, New York, NY 10018, 1 (844) 265-6444, www.blinkhealth.com.
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