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The Relationship Between Anxiety and Depression
Anxiety and depression are double-barreled disorders that can suffocate you emotionally while at the same time filling you with jittery angst about what the future may hold.
It’s like “breathing through a coffee stirrer,” says Tara K. “A daily battle against yourself … a desire to live yet at the same time a desire to stop.”
Karen R.B. experiences the duo this way: “During the day I’m completely exhausted and can’t seem to get anything done, and then I lie awake all night worrying about all the things I didn’t do.”
Anxiety and depression often occur together and can have strong effects on one another. You might not be clear in your own mind which came first, although most studies show depression is the product of anxiety rather than the reverse. Less research exists on depression preceding anxiety, but having either increases the risk that the other will set in.
Depression and anxiety disorders take not only a psychological toll, but can affect you in a way you may not have thought much about — your economic security. In a study published in the journal Health Economics, researchers from Cornell University and the Medica Research Institute found that people with these mood disorders often take a sizable hit to their retirement savings.
“A growing number of households are dealing with mental health issues like depression and anxiety,” said study co-author Angela Fertig at Medica. “Our project studies the effect that mental health issues have on retirement savings because we need to understand how health problems may affect the economic security of this growing population.”
The study found that people suffering from anxiety and depression had about a 62% lower probability of having retirement accounts, while those who did have such accounts had accumulated much less than their peers without mental health issues. It’s no secret there’s a clear link among retirees between financial and mental struggles, so this only makes a bad situation worse.
Treatments for Depression and Anxiety
If you suffer from anxiety and depression, there are many treatment options. These interventions can help protect your health, and, as a bonus, your financial well-being.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)
This type of therapy is great for those who suffer from mood disorders. It helps people learn to change the way they think, replacing the automatic negative thoughts (known as “killing the ANTs”), with more objective, balanced beliefs. CBT has been shown through functional magnetic resonance imaging to strengthen specific connections in the brain, and, as a result, providing long-lasting results.
Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) such as paroxetine (Paxil), fluoxetine (Prozac), sertraline (Zoloft), escitalopram (Lexapro) and citalopram (Celexa) work on the concept that people with mood disorders suffer from low levels of the neurotransmitter serotonin. These medications work by making more serotonin available in the brain. Serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs) are another type of antidepressant that raises both serotonin and norepinephrine (another neurotransmitter) levels in the brain. These drugs include venlafaxine (Effexor), duloxetine (Cymbalta) and desvenlafaxine (Pristiq, Khedezla).
Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS)
An effective, pain-free treatment approach for people with anxiety and depression, TMS uses a small electric current to influence brain activity. This magnetic field is thought to “reset” the part of the brain that regulates mood. One study found that about 70% of people treated with TMS had a significant, positive response shortly after treatment. At the three-month follow-up, there was an 80% response rate.
Self-soothing techniques like meditation, yoga and exercise can help reduce the impact of unhealthy, exaggerated responses to stress. For some people, exercise works as well as antidepressants. Meanwhile, yoga and meditation have been found to be good prospects in treating anxiety and depression. Though they are essentially different concepts, meditation and yoga are intertwined in many ways (an individual learns to silence the mind through meditation, which is also a primary focus in yoga).
There’s an intensely close relationship between anxiety and depression. Both cause pain and can feed on each other. The good news is that no one has to suffer from these disorders. If you or someone you care about needs help, talk with a psychiatrist, therapist or other medical professional. Treatment can help people reduce the symptoms of both disorders, often at the same time.