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?