The best way to explain how they team up against you

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It’s hard to explain the complex relationship between common psychological conditions, but there are definitely some memes that can help.

Hank can’t remember a time when he wasn’t anxious. Growing up, his parents struggled with money and their financial worries rubbed off on him. Throughout his teenage years, he used food to deal with his anxiety, which led to weight gain, low self-esteem and eventually depression. By the time Hank reached middle school, he felt like his anxiety and depression were raging in his head. “Both were full of kicks,” the 29-year-old tells me, joking that “my favorite thing about having both is that dealing with one will often make the other worse.”

To that end, things that immediately relieved his anxiety, like alcohol or Xanax, made his depression worse. At the same time, one of the commonalities Side effects antidepressants is anxiety, at least temporarily.

Although it is common to want to categorize people as anxious or depressed, these conditions are not mutually exclusive – approximately 60 percent of people with anxiety show symptoms of depression, and vice versa. “It is very common for depression and anxiety to coexist”, confirms the psychotherapist Brent Metcalf, adding that they may have overlapping symptoms. For example, her clients who struggle with depression as their primary diagnosis often worry about what others think of their symptoms. He also saw anxiety have such devastating effects on people’s lives that they fell into depression.

It can be difficult for people like Hank to tell the symptoms of anxiety and depression apart on their own, but experts say it’s critical to distinguish between the two. For example, while the psychotherapist Erena DiGonis realizes how debilitating anxiety symptoms can be, “depressive symptoms are more likely related to suicidal thoughts or intentions, so I take depression very seriously.” (The main difference between these two beasts is that anxiety is usually related to a feeling of worry and people with anxiety tend to avoid certain situations and social relationships because of their symptoms, while people with depression have tend to feel hopeless and often have low self-esteem. . )

Interestingly, however, DiGonis has similar recommendations for people who think they may be suffering from either condition. Along with talking with a therapist, she suggests taking inventory of your diet, exercise, and sleep habits. Light therapy and breathing exercises like breathing box can also be good basic ways to start taking action to feel better, she says.

For men struggling with anxiety and depression, Metcalf recommends “watching for anger or irritability,” he says. “When men are depressed, it can often turn into anger, and people often don’t see depression or anxiety as a factor.”

Metcalf’s anger references are mostly absent from depression-anxiety combo memes, but DiGonis thinks they still help drive home how common it is for anxiety and depression to occur simultaneously – even if they don’t understand exactly what is needed. For example, DiGonis criticizes the meme above as, “I’d switch the ‘my anxiety’ side to the more common things I hear, like, ‘My anxiety is thinking I’m never good enough, and that what if i embarrass myself and no one will ever love me? “”Similarly, she would change the other side to read, “”My depression tells me I’m a worthless person and don’t deserve to be loved. “”

Rough.

That said, not everyone with depression and anxiety finds these memes relevant. “I see things like this all the time and I would say it never resonates with me,” says Scott, a 34-year-old man who experienced both conditions at the same time. If he were to describe what that experience was like for him as a meme, it would look like this: a side-by-side image of his depression – a disheveled person who can’t get out of bed – and his anxiety – that same person who frantically runs to work at the last possible second. “In those times when I felt like I couldn’t bear to drag myself out there, anxiety about job security or how many PTOs I’d taken recently would win out. almost always,” he told me.

That’s the tricky thing about the interaction between anxiety and depression. If they conspire often enough, one might actually seem to solve the other. But over time, that’s almost certainly not the case. In fact, whenever you think you’ve got either beat – or dare forget them for a minute – they’re sure to remind you that they’ve been waiting there the whole time.

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