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Author: Dr Muffazal RawalaConsultant Adult Psychiatrist

Depression and anxiety is the most common mental health complaint in the UK.

For many people, depression and anxiety plagues their life, leaving them on the one hand overwhelmed by an encompassing feeling of sadness and lack of hope for the future and on the other hand wracked with crippling anxiety where they feel constantly on edge.


What is depression and anxiety combined?

Depression and anxiety combined is the most common mental health disorder in the UK.

One study found that up to 85% of patients with anxiety disorders were also clinically depressed and vice versa1.

Depression and anxiety have been likened to being two sides of the same coin – if you are depressed you are likely to feel anxious and if you are anxious you are likely to feel low moods and depression. In this way, they can ‘feed’ off each other and left untreated, become worse over time.

Anxiety normally develops before depression – particularly if you have an anxiety disorder like OCD or a phobia, which can mean you may be very limited in what you are able to do and how you function in your daily life.

Being both anxious and depressed is a tremendous challenge to those people who suffer with it. Research has shown that when an anxiety disorder occurs at the same time as depression, the symptoms of both the depression and the anxiety are more severe than when each disorder occurs alone.
When someone has depression and anxiety, the symptoms of depression can take longer to get better, making the illness more chronic and harder to treat. That is why seeking help early on is the one of the key steps to take.

1Hirschfield, R (2001)

90%
Of those with clinical depression are also diagnosed with an anxiety disorder such as generalised anxiety or OCD


Symptoms of depression and anxiety

  1. Constant, irrational fear and worry
  2. Physical symptoms like rapid heartbeat, fatigue, headaches, hot flashes, sweating, abdominal pain, and difficulty breathing
  3. Difficulties sleeping
  4. Changes in eating patterns – too much or too little
  5. Difficulty with memory, decision making, and concentration
  6. Constant feelings of sadness or worthlessness
  7. Loss of interest in hobbies and activities
  8. Finding it hard to relax
  9. Panic attacks

I was given an immediate diagnosis and the medication prescribed made me feel well within a matter of a few weeks. I have been given my life back.

Paula, Nottingham


Treating depression and anxiety

When someone has depression and anxiety, it can be hard to know which to treat first. If someone is very depressed it may be hard to for them to engage in therapy to help them with their anxiety symptoms – often people with depression lack the necessary motivation.

On the other hand, some people with depression and anxiety combined will need to tackle the anxiety symptoms first in order that they can then start engaging in activities that enable them.

When depression and anxiety occur comorbidly (together) they are often more difficult to treat. Treatment may take longer to come into effect and some people have to try different types of treatment to find the right one for them.

I see many people who have lived in hope that their anxiety is related to a trigger and with time it will go away. After a detailed assessment and commencement of treatment, they are able to recognise how different life is without constant anxiety.
MBBS, MSc, MRCPsych

Consultant Adult Psychiatrist
London

Dr Muffazal Rawala is an experienced NHS Consultant Psychiatrist, currently working for East London NHS Foundation Trust. He has a Medical Degree, a Masters in Transcultural Mental Health, has a postgraduate certificate in Psychopharmacology and is a...

 

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