For many people who suffer from anxiety, depression can be an added struggle (two mental illnesses for the price of one!!)
I know that when my anxiety flares high I often have a bit of depression as well. This is one reason that SSRI drugs like Zoloft can be so helpful. Not only do they treat the anxiety at its root, but they ease the depression as well.
I am not exactly sure why depression and anxiety go together so frequently. Apparently this is even more true with panic, possibly because the drama and exhaustion that come with panic attacks leaves us so drained and discouraged.
For me I know that with great anxiety comes a loss of abundant life. High anxiety is just plain limiting in a way that makes you feel your life is slipping away from you.
This loss of abundant life and ability for me leads to grief. Grief for the life I had before anxiety hit, grief for the way I wish life could be.
In addition to the grief I think there is often self blame. We can feel like failures for struggling with anxiety disorders. We may blame ourselves for not being able to “just get it together.”
For me the combination of grief and self blame can lead to depression. Once I can get some traction and see some progress in healing, the depression often begins to lift.
Another big factor that seems to link anxiety and depression is that they both are fed by and perpetuate negative thinking. The negative thoughts that come with one disorder can play right into the other.
When I asked my therapist husband about the relationship of anxiety to depression, he suggested looking into learned helplessness research. My understanding of this theory is that after someone has suffered a negative outcome so many times (in this case anxiety), they begin to lose hope on things being any different. They just give up and relent to the unpleasantness of their circumstances with no thought of things being any different or better. If you want to know more about this you can click here. Be warned though, in the experiment they detail the researchers doing not so nice things to dogs, so if you are like me, that might upset you.
The biggest thing to remember about the anxiety and depression combination is that they are both very treatable.
In fact as I mentioned before the same medication and also same talk therapy interventions help both.
So whether your anxiety led to depression or visa versa, know that it can get better.
There is always always hope for better.
So hold onto hope. And may healing come to whatever struggles you deal with.