When you talk about anxiety disorders, you probably focus on these symptoms: sweating, trembling, irrational fears. However, you may be surprised to know that most anxiety disorders share a link with depression and substance abuse. For example, over 50% of patients diagnosed with obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) suffer from depression as well.
What is the link between anxiety and depression? It may be hard to see. Depression is often represented as causing a feeling of lack of energy. The truth is that most depressed people have a high state of anxiety. These can lead to panic attacks.
Where depression is present along with an anxiety disorder, both issues are intensified. First of all, depression is much more difficult to treat. In addition, when depression is accompanied by an anxiety disorder, the suicide rate among depression sufferers increases dramatically.
Depression and anxiety can make it easy to dwell on how awful you feel. It can actually increase the length of time it takes to manage and overcome the depression and anxiety. They can also create a feeling of isolation.
Because these illnesses often go hand in hand and are becoming more recognized. In fact there is a new term for it: mixed anxiety-depression. Symptoms include disrupted sleep or insomnia, low energy, tension, palpitations, and restlessness.
Anxiety-depression treatment can include medications. While medications are not enough to cure anxiety disorders, they can help the sufferer deal with the symptoms. Antidepressants alter the chemistry of the brain. Most begin to work on some indicators of anxiety disorder immediately; however, it can take up to six weeks for the full effects to be felt.
SSRIs, or selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, are also antidepressants. They help brain cells communicate with each other by increasing the amount of serotonin in the brain. Serotonin is involved in the regulation of learning, sleep, and moods. They have been shown to be very effective in anxiety-depression treatment. Beta-blockers, usually used to treat heart conditions, can also be prescribed for anxiety treatment. They can help prevent the physical conditions which accompany most anxiety-depression disorders.
Medications are used to help control the signs of anxiety-depression disorders while the patient receives psychotherapy. Therapy is also a very important part of treatment. It is especially important for the anxiety portion of the disorder.
Cognitive-behavioral therapy, or CBT, helps anxiety-depression disorder sufferers change the way they think and how they react to anxiety-inducing situations. The CBT therapist accompanies the patient through role-playing to actual encounters. CBT therapists also teach relaxation techniques such as deep breathing.
CBT only works when the anxiety-depression disorder sufferer is ready to undertake the challenge of facing his or her fears. It must be specific to their individual disorder. This treatment usually lasts about three months and it may incorporate group therapy.
Finally, exercise is a great treatment for both anxiety and depression. Exercise boosts serotonin in the brain and releases endorphins. It provides a distraction from destructive thoughts and can increase your positive interactions with others. It should not, however, replace psychotherapy, which is essential in the treatment of anxiety-depression disorder.