Although they often occur hand-in-hand, anxiety and depression are different mental illnesses. People with anxiety disorders find that their near-constant fears and worries make it hard to lead a normal life. They may also experience physical symptoms like muscle tension, headaches, stomachaches, and heart palpitations. Meanwhile, a person with a depressive disorder is regularly burdened by feelings of hopelessness, insignificance, and despair. Lethargy, severe fatigue and various aches and pains are physical symptoms that may accompany depression. In most cases where depression and anxiety occur simultaneously, anxiety sets in first. That may be because people with anxiety disorders spend a great deal of time in an agitated, tense, and uneasy state. This can take a huge emotional toll, causing a person to become clinically depressed. On the flipside, a depressed person may spend a great deal of time worrying, which can, in turn, lead to anxiety. There also seems to be a genetic connection between anxiety and depression. Research indicates that both disorders occur with more frequency in people who have a first degree relative with mental illness. That's bad news, because when symptoms of depression and anxiety occur together, they are often more severe than when the conditions manifest separately. Plus, depression that is exacerbated by anxiety is more likely to lead to suicide than depression on its own. While this is disturbing, there are effective treatments available for both depressive and anxiety disorders! Often, antidepressants like Paxil and Zoloft can help ease emotional symptoms of both conditions. And participating in long-term talk therapy can also produce great results. If you, or someone you love, seems plagued by feelings of depression, anxiety - or both - talk to a psychologist.
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Last Updated:December 20, 2012