Depression and anxiety disorders are closely related. Anxiety simply describes how you feel when you’re suffering from a lot of stress. Neither it nor its prototype relaxation should be considered a diagnosis. Nevertheless, they can both be sustained.
How are depression and anxiety disorders related?
When you first become depressed, you’ll wake up early in the morning unable to fall back asleep due to racing thoughts that make you feel anxious. This is because your body has also been filled with stress chemicals causing you to be on high alert. Eventually, you’ll find it difficult to concentrate due to racing thoughts and insomnia. Now you’ll be mildly depressed and growing more anxious because your survival instincts are trying to propel you towards taking action. Unfortunately, you can’t escape your thoughts, so you grow frustrated and despair.
With depression and anxiety disorder, you may start to experience more advanced symptoms, which include:
- Loss of appetite resulting in weight loss
- Lack of energy because your body is constantly on high alert
- Various physical symptoms, including chronic pain
- Social isolation
- Suicidal ideation which may result in an attempt at suicide
Why should we change the language around depression and anxiety disorder?
To successfully treat someone who’s feeling depressed, it’s important to focus on the root cause, which is the feelings of anxiousness. This term is used to describe a person whose neurochemical state is heightened. When this happens, it’s much more powerful than your conscious brain, and thus, you can’t use rational interventions to control it. Therefore the only way to decrease it is by decreasing the levels of the stress chemicals. This is done by calming the nervous system (e.g., short-term medications, mindfulness, meditation, exercise) or stimulating neuroplastic changes in your brain (e.g., cognitive-behavioral therapy, visualization).
Language Matters with Depression and Anxiety Disorders
The deHeer paper recently looked at the Netherlands’ national registry of 2,980 patients who were receiving no psychopathology and were feeling anxious or depressed (either remitted, current, or comorbid) in relation to experiencing chronic pain. Of these participants, only 5.7% reported that they weren’t experiencing any pain symptoms. This led to the conclusion that these two disorders share the same pathophysiological pathways as pain. Therefore they have a reciprocal effect on one another, thus possibly explaining these associations. It’s interesting to note that even patients who are no longer feeling anxious or depressed may continue suffering from ongoing chronic pain.
How should we change the language?
With this study in mind, we should now start saying that those who feel anxious are feeling pain. Although many people can deal with it reasonably well, it’s still unpleasant. At some point, it’ll become intolerable and start to interfere with your quality of life which is why people become depressed.
When you feel anxious, you’re dealing with a problem, but this isn’t a diagnosis. It can result in a variety of physical (e.g., increased pain due to faster nerve conduction) and psychological disorders as you attempt to cope with it. When we create separate diagnostic categories, we no longer focus on the root cause, which is the feeling of anxiousness. An alternative to this could be saying that a person is remaining in a hyper-vigilant, neurochemical state that results in various other symptoms, such as them feeling depressed or experiencing chronic mental and physical pain.
When you’re suffering from depression and anxiety disorder, you may be able to treat it by utilizing an effective method of calming down your nervous system. At TMS Advantage Clearwater in Clearwater, FL, we offer you this through a process that’s known as Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation. This is a procedure that’s helped many people, and we’re sure it can help you, too, so give us a call to set up an appointment today.