Living with depression and anxiety

Read our advice to help improve how you've been feeling lately and find out about the support available for depression and anxiety here at Priory.

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If you're living with depression and anxiety, we understand the huge impact that these co-occurring disorders can have on your quality of life. It's likely that they're not only affecting how you feel, but also how you function. You may have found that your work, relationships, social activities and health have all started to suffer as a result.

Within this blog, we'll look at why some people experience depression and anxiety at the same time. We'll also look at the self-care activities and professional treatment that's available to you, so you can start to feel better and get your life back on track.

The causes of co-existing depression and anxiety

Research suggests that depression and anxiety commonly co-exist, as they're caused by similar factors. These include:

  • Genetics - genetics can leave certain people predisposed to developing anxiety and depression
  • Gender - women are more at risk of both anxiety and depressive disorders than men
  • Personality traits - people high in neuroticism are more prone to negative emotions, such as anxiety, depression and self-doubt
  • Early life issues - experiencing childhood trauma, abuse and/or neglect can contribute to a person living with depression and anxiety later on in life. The parenting styles and stresses that a person is exposed to at this time can also have an effect
  • Stressors – experiences such as loss, relationship difficulties, financial issues, work burnout and unemployment can impact a person’s mental health
  • Physical illness or pain – pain or physical illness can be linked to psychological distress
  • An existing anxiety or depressive disorder – the presence of an existing anxiety or depressive disorder can be a risk factor for the development of the other

In certain people, these risk factors combine and lead to anxiety and depression. Typically, a person will find that their anxiety disorder develops before the depressive disorder.

Mental health conditions in men and women

Many of the symptoms of anxiety and depression are shared between men and women. However, there are some differences and some challenges may present themselves differently. Click the links below to learn more about depression and anxiety in men and women.

Signs and symptoms of depression and anxiety

While everyone experiences sadness, worry and fear from time to time, these feelings shouldn’t be overwhelming and persistent. If you're concerned that you're living with co-occurring anxiety and depression, we have outlined the signs and symptoms of both conditions below.

Common signs and symptoms of depression include:

  • Feeling sad, upset, empty or low in mood for several days or weeks
  • Struggling with feelings of guilt, hopelessness or worthlessness
  • Low in energy, feeling tired and struggling with fatigue
  • Difficulties concentrating, making decisions or recalling memories
  • Struggling with sleep, either sleeping too much or too little
  • Changes in weight and appetite
  • Loss of interest in hobbies or activities
  • Struggling with anger or irritability

Common signs and symptoms of anxiety are as follows:

  • A persistent feeling of worry, fear, apprehension or dread
  • Having fears and worries that aren’t consistent with the situation
  • A racing heart, bodily tension, chest tightness, headaches, sweating and shortness of breath
  • Restlessness, irritability and impatience
  • Struggling to sleep, to stay asleep or having disturbed sleep
  • Feeling tearful, fatigued or emotionally tired

Read our anxiety symptoms and depression symptoms pages for further information on how anxiety and depressive disorders affect the body and mind.

It's important to note that there are some overlapping symptoms of depression and anxiety. Also, a person doesn’t have to experience all symptoms in order to be living with depression and anxiety. They may also have more symptoms of one disorder than the other, but this can be determined when a medical professional conducts an anxiety diagnosis and a depression diagnosis.

Advice for people living with depression and anxiety

We understand that living with depression and anxiety can be incredibly overwhelming. It's likely that they're having a big impact on your day-to-day life. We've put together a list of small and simple things you can try in order to improve how you’re feeling:

  • Try not to be too tough on yourself – you may feel frustrated about the impact that the co-occurring conditions are having on your life. However, living with depression and anxiety isn’t your fault, nor is it a sign of weakness. You're dealing with serious illnesses, so be kind to yourself and do what you can to look after your health and wellbeing
  • Stick to a routine – routines are useful. When planning yours, include things like a wake-up time, exercise, meal and snack times, self-care and a bedtime. Also, if you're working from home, try to keep to your work hours and include breaks, especially between meetings. By having a healthy structure in place, the focus it provides can stop you from feeling overwhelmed. Sticking to a routine can also give you a great sense of accomplishment at the end of each day
  • Look after yourself – eat healthily to nourish yourself. Batch cooking can be useful for people living with depression and anxiety, as it ensures that you have healthy meals in the house at times when you aren’t feeling up to preparing food. Also, try to get outdoors and exercise every day, even if it’s just for a quick walk, as this can help to release feel-good brain chemicals and boost your mood
  • Make time for self-care – make an effort to take good care of yourself. You deserve it. Think about what makes you feel good and take the time to do it
  • Rest and relax - allow yourself the chance to recharge your batteries, as living with depression and anxiety can be exhausting. Do something calming that you enjoy, such as reading or listening to your favourite podcast. Alternatively, try mindfulness, yoga or breathing exercises - you can easily find guided videos for these online
  • Talk to someone – don’t keep how you’ve been feeling to yourself. Talk to someone you trust and let them know what you’ve been going through. They'll be able to lend a listening ear and provide you with the support and encouragement you need

Treatment for depression and anxiety

If you've been living with anxiety and depression, it's so important for you to reach out for support. You don’t have to struggle alone.

Getting in contact with a healthcare provider like Priory can help you to receive a diagnosis, along with a treatment programme that'll work for you. Treatment options for depression and anxiety include:

Medication can also be provided alongside a treatment programme, if this is needed.

If you'd like to find out more about treatment for depression and anxiety at Priory, please get in contact using the details below.

Blog reviewed by Dr Dominic de Souza (BSc MBChB MRCPsych DipMHL) Consultant Psychiatrist at Priory Hospital North London.

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