It’s really normal to feel anxious AND depressed at the same time. Depression and anxiety are two distinct mental health conditions, but they often coexist and can influence each other.
While they have their own unique features, there are several ways in which depression and low mood are linked to anxiety:
Negative Thought Patterns:
Both depression and anxiety can lead to negative thought patterns. In depression, you can often experience persistent feelings of sadness, hopelessness, and worthlessness. These thoughts can contribute to a low mood. Anxiety, on the other hand, involves excessive worry and apprehension about future events, leading to heightened stress levels. These negative thought patterns can exacerbate feelings of low mood and sadness.
Rumination is a common feature of both depression and anxiety. It involves repetitively focusing on distressing thoughts or situations. In depression, rumination can lead to a deepening sense of sadness and despair. In anxiety, rumination can contribute to heightened worry and fear. The process of rumination can reinforce negative emotions and contribute to a cycle of low mood and anxiety.
Both depression and anxiety can cause physical symptoms that contribute to low mood. For example, people with anxiety might experience restlessness, muscle tension, difficulty concentrating and generally feeling unwell. These physical sensations can create a sense of discomfort that contributes to a low mood. Similarly, depression can lead to physical symptoms such as fatigue, changes in appetite, and sleep disturbances, which can further exacerbate feelings of anxiety.
Both conditions can lead to avoidance behaviours. People with anxiety might avoid situations or places that trigger their anxiety, whilst people with depression may withdraw from social interactions and activities they once enjoyed. Avoidance behaviours can reinforce feelings of isolation and sadness, contributing to low mood.
Interference with Daily Functioning:
Both depression and anxiety can interfere with daily functioning. When individuals struggle to manage their symptoms, it can lead to difficulties in fulfilling responsibilities at work, and in personal relationships. This impairment can contribute to a sense of frustration and hopelessness, worsening the low mood.
Here’s the science bit…….There are shared neurochemical factors that contribute to both depression and anxiety. Imbalances in neurotransmitters, such as serotonin and norepinephrine, are believed to play a role in the development of these conditions. These imbalances can impact mood regulation and emotional responses, contributing to the coexistence of depression and anxiety symptoms.
Some people may have a predisposition to experiencing both depression and anxiety due to certain psychological vulnerabilities. These vulnerabilities might include a history of traumatic experiences, a family history of mental health disorders, or specific personality traits that make a person more prone to developing both conditions.