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Understanding Depression and Anxiety

Depression and anxiety can negatively affect someone’s life in many ways. In order to understand what causes depression and anxiety, it’s important to first understand how these conditions work and the ways they affect those struggling.

Is Having Anxiety the Same as Depression?

While anxiety and depression are often co-occurring conditions, having anxiety is not the same as having depression. Anxiety and depression symptoms differ in many ways.1

What is the Difference Between Anxiety, Stress, and Depression?

The main difference between anxiety, stress, and depression is that depression symptoms usually consist of someone feeling down, fatigued, and disinterested in daily activities. However, stress caused by anxiety consists of nervousness, restlessness, or a sense of panic.

Are Depression and Anxiety Related?

While depression and anxiety are different conditions, there is a relationship between depression and anxiety since they are often co-occurring disorders in many individuals. There often can be an overlap in symptoms of depression and anxiety. There are also many cases of anxiety leading to depression due to the intense stress it can cause on the mind and body.2

Why are Anxiety and Depression Often Co-occurring?

Anxiety and depression can often be co-occurring because of the substantial overlap between the two conditions and their symptoms. Someone who struggles with severe anxiety may also suffer from depressive symptoms after periods of anxiety. Because of the often strenuous effects of anxiety on the mind and body, one might eventually experience a “crash” of physical and mental fatigue. Over time, a person who struggles with long-term anxiety may begin to experience the symptoms of depression as well.3

Can Depression Cause Anxiety?

Prolonged or severe periods of depression can also be a source of anxiety. Symptoms of depression can make it difficult for someone to function normally in their daily life, which can even lead to feelings of anxiety about work, school, or relationships.

Over time, ongoing depression can lead to anxiety due to the persistent negative effects depression has on the mind and body, such as insomnia, hopelessness, and low self-esteem.

Common Risk Factors and Causes of Depression and Anxiety

There are many different factors that can cause someone to experience anxiety and depression. Common causes of co-occurring anxiety and depression include genetic, environmental, and social factors. It’s important to understand what source may have caused someone to experience anxiety and depression in order to provide the best possible treatment for their needs.

Genetic Factors

Studies have shown that genetic factors can play a role in anxiety and depression. When diagnosing patients, medical professionals will often ask about family history of mental health-related issues, as this can be a sign of susceptibility to mental health issues as well.

Environmental/Social Factors

Environmental and social factors can also play a role in someone being more susceptible to struggling with anxiety and depression. Common environmental and social factors of anxiety and depression are:

  • Trauma
  • Neglect in early childhood
  • Relationship difficulties
  • Unemployment
  • Social isolation
  • Physical illness


Someone experiencing pain due to injuries or health conditions may be more susceptible to anxiety and depression. Pain negatively impacts everyday life in many ways, and can be difficult to cope with. This can lead to symptoms of depression and anxiety.4

When treating depression and anxiety along with co-occurring physical pain from a health condition, it’s important to not only treat the person’s mental health, but also teach coping mechanisms or ways to manage pain to provide the best possible results during treatment. Common types of pain leading to co-occurring anxiety and depression are:

  • Fibromyalgia
  • Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)
  • Low back pain
  • Headaches
  • Nerve pain

Signs and Symptoms of Depression and Anxiety

If you think you or someone you know may be struggling with depression and anxiety, it’s important to look for common signs and symptoms to determine if they need help. Common signs and symptoms of depression and anxiety are:

  • Irrational fear
  • Loss of interest in hobbies or work
  • Panic attacks
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Irritability and frustration
  • Difficulty sleeping (insomnia) or extreme fatigue

While anxiety and depression can sometimes be mild and easily managed, many symptoms constitute a medical emergency and require immediate professional intervention. It’s crucial to know how to recognize the signs of a potential mental health crisis and react accordingly.

  • Giving away prized possessions
  • Extreme feelings of guilt or hopelessness
  • Drastic or sudden emotional improvement (pink-clouding)
  • Thoughts or actions of self-harm
  • Expressing suicidal thoughts or intentions

It’s also important to consider that not everyone experiences depression and anxiety in the same way, and symptoms may manifest differently for each person.

Can Anxiety and Depression Be Treated Together?

Anxiety and depression can and should be treated together during a mental health treatment program. In the instances of co-occurring anxiety and depression symptoms, the conditions can exacerbate each other.

This is why it’s important to treat both depression and anxiety simultaneously to obtain the best results from treatment. Since these conditions are often co-occurring, many treatment options are designed to treat both conditions at the same time.5


Therapy can be very beneficial for coping with depression and anxiety. Therapeutic treatment typically consists of traditional talk therapy, and group or family therapy may be used in some instances. Therapeutic treatment can also help uncover underlying issues and conditions that cause someone to feel anxious and depressed.


Medications may be used during the treatment process to treat moderate to severe anxiety and depression. Common medications used during treatment, such as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), treat both anxiety and depression symptoms at the same time. This is beneficial as someone suffering from anxiety and depression can take one medication to treat both conditions.

Self-Help Techniques

Self-help techniques are commonly used during the treatment process. For those with less severe depression and anxiety symptoms, simple self-help techniques may be all that is needed to help significantly improve their condition. Self-help techniques can still be a beneficial part of a well-rounded treatment program for those who are suffering from severe anxiety and depression. Common self-help techniques include:

  • Exercise
  • Meditation
  • Healthy eating
  • Yoga
  • Partaking in positive activities
  • Volunteering/community involvement
  • Journaling

Seek Professional Help for Anxiety and Depression at Great Oaks Recovery Center

If you or someone you know is struggling with anxiety and depression, it’s important to act sooner rather than later. In severe cases, symptoms of either ailment can worsen suddenly and without warning, leading to a potential crisis or emergency.
In the same way that you would visit a physician to ensure long-lasting physical health, you should also consult professionals with the necessary expertise to assess your mental health patterns and symptoms. While some forms of anxiety and depression are chronic or episodic, swift and consistent treatment increases the likelihood of total symptom-free recovery.

What causes Depression and Anxiety

Begin Recovery Today

If you’re feeling overwhelmed and looking to explore treatment options, Great Oaks Recovery Center can help. The treatment professionals at Great Oaks are well-trained and knowledgeable in getting you the best possible results from an anxiety and depression treatment program. Contact us today for more information about how we can assist you or a loved one with effective symptom management and recovery.



Questions About Treatment?

Our knowledgeable team is ready to discuss your situation and options. Your call is confidential with no obligation required.