Down and Terrified: Does Depression and Anxiety Go Hand-in-Hand?

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This topic might go off the rails fairly quickly because I don’t know if this is common or not.  I tried to do some research, but got sidetracked by other events.  Then, I realized this journal is supposed to be my own thoughts instead of anything clinical.  So, I’m going to give a disclaimer that these are my own opinions and thoughts on something that can be fairly sensitive.

Within myself, I notice that I hit two points when I’m stressed out.  One is the anxiety attacks that leave me struggling to function and can begin poking worrying ideas into my head.  Nothing incredibly dark, but my mind wanders to topics that make me stress out even more.  State of the world, state of my life, viewing life choices in a negative light, and the usual mood smashers.  The other state is more subtle, but it can’t really be denied when it turns up.  This is a ‘blueness’ that has me lacking in motivation and feeling like I have no energy.  At first, I thought this was entirely physical, but I noticed that my interactions with other people were off.  I was pushing myself to appear happy with more force than one would normally use.  This meant I had a side of depression with my anxiety and I can’t really deny this.  Mostly because I figured that out before I realized I was having anxiety attacks.

Before I get into the relation, I want to talk about the semantics.  Depression and anxiety have an interesting commonality, which is that people use the words as incorrect exaggerations.  Not all the time, but you see these two words turn up on social media enough that their true weight and meaning are lost.  People use depression as a synonym for sad and anxiety as a synonym for nervous.  This can be done at times, but overuse can cause trouble for people who suffer from the mental illness because they might be seen as using the term for a ‘smaller’ issue.  I can sense that this is going to take a bit longer than I planned, but I’ll try to sum up using depression.

Everybody gets sad, but not everybody gets depressed.  You might be sad that your favorite show is cancelled and you can easily pull out of that.  True depression isn’t nearly as easy to reverse and sometimes you might not even know the cause.  Now, this isn’t to say sadness can’t lead to depression.  One just has to realize that by immediately claiming the extreme, you can warp the perception of those around you.  If you’re already claiming depression when you’re merely sad then people might not believe you if you do cross the border.  They can think you’re milking it and inadvertently make your situation worse.  It’s like the ‘Boy Who Cried Wolf’ and we know how that ended.  Anxiety and nervousness are the same with the ‘weaker’ version being easier to pull out of and being a possible path to the big one.  I’m saying this so people know that I’m talking about the higher level issues instead of the more commonly used exaggeration.

Now, I have the picture above, but I have to admit that I’m not 100% sure how to explain it without feeling like I’m missing something.  I do think there are times when my anxiety feeds a depression and vice versa.  I’ve been dealing with the anxiety more often than the depression, but two years ago was the opposite.  After a period of stress, I’d feel like my mood became locked on the bottom floor.  I needed to rest and wait it out with nothing really stirring me.  Writing was going through the motions and anything I put on the TV got very little reaction.  I’d be aware of this and begin worrying that something was going wrong in my head.  This could mean that I would drive myself to a point where I couldn’t write anymore because I wouldn’t be able to access the emotions I needed to make scenes work.  In turn, this would freak me out more and I’d start wandering the house as long as I was alone.

This is a similarity that I’ve been trying to wrap my head around with depression and anxiety.  With me, they create the same snowball effect of thoughts, but their results are different.  Depression pushes me to a point where I’ve become emotionally numb and losing the will to do anything.  Sadness would be an upgrade.  Anxiety drives me to doubt and regret where I question everything I’ve done or begin worrying about things I have no control over.  For example, I don’t want the news nearly as often as I used to because it became a source for my rambling thoughts.

So, these two issues share the same method of growing in power and can sometimes do a tag-team.  I don’t mean 2-on-1, but the tagging in of one to give the other a rest.  It’s really difficult to discern when the shift happens and there are times where I won’t even notice it for a day or two.  This makes me consider that, at least with me, depression and anxiety are two sides of the same coin.  I have this coin standing on its side and my stress is blowing at it from the side.  This means I can’t be certain of the side it will fall on until it topples.  Prevention of one can lead to the appearance of the other, which could be due to me not figuring out if each one has its own signs.

I’m going to open the floor here a bit because I know there are people with more experience and knowledge out there.  What do you think or know about the connection between anxiety and depression?

About Charles Yallowitz

Charles E. Yallowitz was born, raised, and educated in New York. Then he spent a few years in Florida, realized his fear of alligators, and moved back to the Empire State. When he isn't working hard on his epic fantasy stories, Charles can be found cooking or going on whatever adventure his son has planned for the day. 'Legends of Windemere' is his first series, but it certainly won't be his last.
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37 Responses to Down and Terrified: Does Depression and Anxiety Go Hand-in-Hand?

  1. Anxiety uses up a lot of energy, and low energy = depression… which creates more anxiety because we don’t have the energy to do the stuff that needs doing. Sometimes meditation can help us detach from the anxious thoughts long enough to recoup some energy.

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    • Does low energy always equal true depression? I have friends that get low energy and they don’t hit a depression. They might be a little blue, but it’s not a deep sadness. At the very least, they easily recharge.

      Liked by 1 person

      • I don’t think low energy always leads to depression, I only know what happens with me. When my energy is low I go into a mental fog where I can’t write stories or play music, and that’s bad news for me. It always amazes me at these times how my mind can create all sorts of worst case scenarios for my own life but can’t seem to put together a decent story.

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      • I get it. So it might be closer to low mental than physical energy. The worst case scenario game that my mind plays with me is a real nightmare at times. Wonder why we’re so good at imagining the negative instead of the positive.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Sue Vincent says:

    It is a horrible and truly vicious cycle, with anxiety feeding the depression and dperession making you anxious. I agree with Annabelle, meditation and/or mindfulness techniques can help, but there is no quick fix, sadly.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Meditation is definitely a path to breaking the cycle. It’s a tough one to pull off too. We spend so much time running around these days that relaxing is almost forced upon us by exhaustion. With you on the ‘no quick fix’ thing.

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  3. Chuck says:

    Hi Charles,
    My hat is off to you for your bravery to continue this discussion. For me, depression rarely leads to anxiety. Yet, unresolved anxiety normally leads to depression. Usually, the only time I have problems with anxiety is when there is a crisis in my life. Something uncontrollable happens or I don’t resolve an issue until it leads to a crisis. Once the crisis is resolved or I quit denying there is a problem, the anxiety is lowered.
    I have a history of what doctors label clinical depression. It goes back to childhood and continued through the many events and tragedies of my adult life. In my senior years now, depression is not all consuming and I have learned my signals and the ability to deal with them. Usually, I can handle the depression before it gets serious.
    For me, anxiety and depression are two different issues and not necessarily interrelated. Thank you again for keeping this dialogue going.

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    • I know quite a few people who have clinical depression. Most of them use medication and therapy, but some do meditation and positive thinking. Not sure how much that helps, but they seem to get by.

      Good point on a crisis being a source for anxiety. One of my challenges is that my crisis tends to be the anxiety itself or I simply can’t figure out the source. For example, I woke up at 4:30 am this morning feeling an attack coming on. It was really hard to calm down when I had no recollection of a dream or any hint as to the trigger. Sadly, I didn’t get back to bed before the alarm went off.

      Anxiety and depression can definitely happen independently. I should have been clearer here and said that them feeding each other is a possibility instead of the only option. Sorry about that.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I have no suggestions, like all weeks. I applaud you for making this a public topic. My mind works such that I’d want to write a book about it. Something real world so people could relate, then pepper it with a speculative element to make it my own. Perhaps by having the hero face and overcome part of the problem it might help. (I’m thinking Hitchcock’s Vertigo here.)

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  5. I have no suggestions or advice. I’m not really qualified to try and explain each of these items. I do support your efforts to try and figure this out. I wish there was something I could do other than say I don’t have a clue.

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  6. I think they can go hand in hand, but don’t always. For example, I suffer with anxiety and also have bouts of depression, while my hubby has bouts of depression but no issues with anxiety. So, while they may be two sides of the same coin, some people can always know which side their coin will land on.

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  7. Bryan Fagan says:

    There are so many battles out there that people are fighting. For me the key is to recognize if I am falling into bad habits. Sometimes they sneak up on you like a snake.

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  8. Wish I knew what to say that would help, Charles. You may be right in recognizing a pattern. Maybe lokk for things that will break the grip. Go for walks?

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  9. Kevin+Carrie says:

    Great read, many thoughts are going on in my head!

    In my life-
    My struggle with my disability will trigger the depression to the point the disability is all but forgotten. It can ignite a dark endless tunnel that seems no end. As soon as I dig myself out, I’m reminded of my disability. Here we go again…

    Enjoyed your thoughts
    ~Kevin

    Liked by 1 person

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