How to Deal With Comorbid Anxiety and Depression
Anxiety and depression often go together. It's called comorbidity (Relationship Between Depression and Anxiety). Not only does suffering from the one make it more likely you'll have to deal with the other at some point, it also means that, baseline, emotions are more of a challenge. Comorbid anxiety and depression bounce your emotions around, making you feel hopeless and scared at the same time.
That can make for a vicious, self-perpetuating emotional spin cycle. You're tense and anxious so it's harder to cope, even when you're well (according to your baseline). In general, comorbid anxiety and depression cause you to have:
- a poorer outlook, feeling generally blue
- depressed moods (which hey, maybe that'd happen anyway but the anxiety sure talks you down to yourself)
- worry and concern regarding depression
- increased anxiety
To all of you struggling with comorbid depression and anxiety, whether the anxiety is diagnosed as generalized anxiety disorder, OCD, PTSD or social anxiety, you should know: you're not alone. You may feel alone. That's different.
Use Daily Reality Tests to Manage Comorbid Depression and Anxiety
A key skill in learning to manage anxiety is to gradually become aware of those subtle differences in things. If you have a slow day and you think you can handle it, try some reality testing. Ask yourself, "What do I feel vs What is actually going on that bears that out?"
It may be tough at first so go as gently as you can because you'll probably experience some backlash. But it is a really useful way to get to know yourself, as yourself -- not as some anxious being ever waiting to exhale.
To give you an example: anxious people tend to have thoughts along the lines of,
- She doesn't like me,
- I'm a failure/bad/stupid/fat.
What can you do about those anxious, negative thoughts? First, put some distance between you and them. Thoughts are pretty powerful things but you don't have to go ahead and actually believe everything that passes through your head: I'd be curled up in a nice white padded cell if I did.
Add distance by asking just how much do you seriously, wholeheartedly believe you are bad, stupid or worthless? Use your heart, less your head.
And then how much of that is a feeling you could maybe learn to put in the negative feeling's place? Sure, you feel that way but it doesn't make it fact. And it definitely doesn't mean you'll feel that way tomorrow, even though you may feel it strongly today.
Escape the Comorbid Anxiety - Depression Cycle
Interrupt anxious thoughts wherever and whenever you can. The more you can engage with things that disrupt the merry-go-round and slow things down, the better your focus, and the less anxiety and depression will get in your way.
I know it's difficult to believe that any of this could work when every thought, every feeling inside is telling you otherwise. But it can. Anyone who deals with anxiety each day and still gets up the next deserves the chance to heal.
You're reading this article because you're stressed, uncertain, depressed. But you survived yesterday, you'll survive today, and you'll work on tomorrow when it drops by too because you're more than just the sum of what's "wrong" with you.
White, K. (2010, September 1). How to Deal With Comorbid Anxiety and Depression, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2019, July 15 from https://www.healthyplace.com/blogs/treatinganxiety/2010/09/anxiety-and-depression-you-are-not-alone
Author: Kate White
Have only just discovered your blog this article and the responses are very useful.
Beyond blue bracelet might be available from
Beyond Blue an Australian organisation
Try this link http://www.beyondblue.org.au
beyondblue is working to reduce the impact of anxiety, depression and suicide in the community by raising awareness and understanding, empowering people to seek help, and supporting recovery, management and resilience.
Kate White is no longer blogging for HealthyPlace. I'm the new author of the Treating Anxiety blog, and I'm finding Kate's archive of posts and especially videos very helpful myself.
Thanks for your comment and the useful link to Beyond Blue. I've got a friend in Australia that I'm going to forward this one on to.
i can and shall absolutely get more complex. and well what some folks consider basic varies but yeah, i agree, there's a really limited amount of good an article can do. it is frustrating. even for me. were you right here, in front of me, having a panic attack, there's a lot more i'd be able to do.
at the point of extreme frustration, can you narrow it down at all? what does 'stressed out' mean?? what, and be specific, is increasing that anxiety right here, right now?
you're looking for help but my words alone won't do it. they aren't enough, you're absolutely right.
one of the more complex things i'd suggest is to test your anxiety -- can you feel more control of it, if you try? does it fit on a scale? is it about panic? if it's about panic then what thoughts are you getting? are those thoughts increasing or decreasing the level of panic you experience?
if it's more a frustration and stress thing, generally, then where and how are you experiencing that??
first, if your concentration is OK, which often it isn't when it comes to that kind of stressed out, then talk to yourself. talk to yourself, and step yourself through exactly what you're feeling. write it out, if that helps. but start the process of putting it somewhere else other than immediately in you.
separate the anxiety out from the rest of what's going on in your mind. there are doubtless very real causes of stress in your life but are they really causing the level of anxiety you're feeling right now?
start to see the 'stressed out' as a more particular feeling, or bunch of feelings. where is it coming from? do you know what started it? what do you feel in your body when you think about those things?
information from your own mind is going to help the most.
focus on what you can do right now. OK so blogs are crap, maybe your needs are different right now? maybe the stress has built up to the point you need to right now do something way more physical with it than just the breathing thing!
the breathing thing is good but it's deeper than that. that'll get you through the half hour or however long the panic is at its peak. but when i get stressed out and frustrated with things, i don't sit around staring at blogs long. i have to Do something with those feelings, not just stamp them down with meds or wonder why all the usual stuff isn't working.
control the fear by getting your adrenaline pumping. if there's something really physically involved but not harmful in any way you can think of to do, do it. it'll get your heartbeat up in a safe, familiar way.
yell, draw, kick, throw your emotions, don't let them sit inside. if you feel like you need to release tension, Do it! act it out. pick up a book and read the lines as if you were the character. don't stay stuck.
any/all that stuff is harder work than it sounds in print. of course it won't fix what's causing the stress, the root cause but it may be enough to get you to the place where you can answer the hard questions about what's going on in your mental/emotional state.
do your meds usually help with frustration and 'stressed out'? how's your sleep? are you taking stimulants, even caffeine or chocolate can make stress like i'm hearing in your msg worse. are you in pain? treat immediate physical needs with great care. if that sounds stupid well yeah it probably is in that it may be too basic. i can't tell exactly what's going on for you, unfortunately.
i hope you find something that truly helps!
"I am me first and i happen to have my problem" is a really cool way to get it across in that kind of setting.
To all of you struggling with anxiety, whether it’s OCD or PTSD or Social Anxiety, you should know: you’re not alone. You may feel alone. That’s different.
Truly. I sometimes get the feeling that I just need to "get brave" a little. You know? Like, when anxiety tells me the best thing I can do is dig deeper into my little fox hole burrow, if I'm brave enough to go out for even a short walk, nothing feels as bad.
It is possible to escape the cycle of depression. But even once you have, I note in my own situation that really, it's still a bit of an effort to keep it out of my life. An effort, but one that's darn worthwhile. :)