It’s common to think that if someone is depressed, he or she doesn’t have much energy. That person might have a low mood, often feel guilty, and tends to think negatively of themselves. It’s common to believe that when someone is depressed, he or she doesn’t experience other symptoms of mental illness. However, it’s not always true. Depression and anxiety can happen simultaneously.
Anxiety can create the experiences of a racing heart, dizziness, nausea, shortness of breath, shaking and sweating palms, and feeling hot. All of this happens in seconds. In an instant, the body prepares the sympathetic nervous system, and if the anxiety is severe enough, it will prepare to go into either fight or flight.
It’s common for teens to feel both depressed and anxious. Sometimes the anxiety can contribute to feelings of depression and at the same time, depression can contribute to feelings of anxiety. For instance, at the start of the day, a depressed teen might feel anxious about the way he or she looks (hoping not to get rejected by peers), and then concludes by the end of the day that no one likes him anyway, so why does it matter? The anxiety and the depression can exacerbate the other.
Often, beneath anxiety, there is depression, the presence of underlying emotions that have been directed inward. It’s common for teens to become afraid of their own feelings, especially if those feelings are challenging, and so they get pressed inward. Feelings such as anger and shame, especially if they’re intense, can be pushed away. In fact, the word depression has Latin roots that mean “pressed down”, as though the energy of the mind and heart has been pushed inward instead of expressed and leaves an adolescent feeling “down”, despondent, or low. The psychological illness of depression includes symptoms of persistent sadness, loss of interest in daily activities, occupational and educational impairment, along with eventual emotional and physical problems.
The relationship between anxiety and depression is like a reaction to the reaction of feelings. For instance, intense and challenging emotions lie inward and at one point there wasn’t enough safety to be able to express them. So there they stay – deep inside. In fact, you want to keep them there because they are intense and so if and when they do arise, you push them inward. However, because they are intense, and you don’t want to feel them, there is a fear of them arising. There is a fear of those feelings showing up again. First, there is the depression, the pushing down of feelings, and then there is anxiety, the fearful response to those feelings coming back to haunt you.
Interestingly, both depression and anxiety are incredibly common psychological disorders throughout the United States. In fact, anxiety disorders are the most common type of psychological illness, and depression is not too far behind.
If you or someone you know is struggling with one or both of these experiences, it’s important to contact a mental health professional today.