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The Link Between Depression and Anxiety

A glaring difference between a person struggling with a substance use disorder or depression and anxiety is their appearance. Over time, a person who uses compulsively uses drugs and alcohol will begin to exhibit signs that their addiction is taking a toll on their life. Unfortunately, when it comes to mental health disorders such as depression and anxiety, we may not always realize someone is struggling. 

It’s common practice for those dealing with these debilitating disorders to appear calm and collected on the surface, but underneath it all, they are battling things we take for granted.

While most of us can go outside and have a simple conversation with a neighbor, someone who has anxiety or depression may want to retreat and hide because they don’t have the energy to give others. These invisible disorders have been overlooked for decades. 

Stigmas have been attached to mental health matters, but fortunately, awareness of their importance has grown. Superstar athletes like Kevin Love have brought attention to the issue, and those who are battling mental disorders can reach out for help.

Depression and anxiety can affect anyone, regardless of socioeconomic status, racial background, or superstar status. Major depressive disorders affect 17.3 million American adults, which translates to 7.1 percent of the U.S. population that is age 18 or older. Adults with a depressive disorder have a 64 percent greater risk of developing coronary artery disease. While depression can be the result of a chemical imbalance, more of society’s factors are contributing to the disorder.

While severe depression is not as common in the general population, severe anxiety is a pervasive disorder. Anxiety disorders are considered the most common mental illness in the United States, which affects 40 million adults, age 18 or older. The number translates to a staggering 18.1 percent of the adult population every year. 

While anxiety disorders are considered highly treatable, a mere 36.9 percent of people who have them will seek treatment. Individuals with anxiety disorders are five times more likely to go to the doctor, and six times more likely to be hospitalized for psychiatric disorders than someone who does not have anxiety. While these two silent killers ravage through society, we may wonder, what is the link between depression and anxiety?

The Link Between Depression and Anxiety

A Psychology Today article states that anxiety and depression are “first cousins, at least.” The most common depression therapists encounter is agitated depression, which is a troubled state made up of equal amounts of helplessness (anxiety) and hopelessness (depression). It’s possible to think yourself into anxiety by assessing your situation as out of control, and you can ponder your way into depression by continually reminding yourself that your situation leaves no room for hope.

These two simple explanations show an active link between depression and anxiety, and those afflicted by the disorders often feel there is no hope for their future. One symptom of depression can cause anxiety, while a single sign of anxiety can lead to depression. The two are interlinked and can lead to suicide. Unfortunately, suicide is one of the leading causes of death in the United States.

Suicidal Behavior and Depression

According to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, suicide is regarded as the 10th leading cause of death in the U.S. In 2017 alone, 47,173 Americans died by suicide, and another 1.4 million people attempted to kill themselves. The highest rate of suicide was in middle-age Caucasian men, and males were 3.5 times more likely to die by suicide than women. On average, there are 129 suicides daily.

Signs of Suicidal Behavior

While suicide is not considered a mental disorder itself, it is a potentially severe consequence of major depression and anxiety disorders. When someone is acting out and talks about suicide, it could be a cry for help. We must always take these words seriously and get the proper support to ensure their safety. Some individuals may be at a point where they have not sought help but are ready to die by suicide. You must never judge someone in this situation due to their fragile mental state.Other individuals, however, will show fewer outward signs that they are contemplating ending their life. According to WebMD, there are signs of suicidal behavior that you should learn in case a loved one is acting differently. These warning signs include:

  • Excessive sadness or moodiness: Someone may show a long-lasting sadness or fits unexpected rage.
  • Hopelessness: A deep sense of hopelessness about the future, and a belief that nothing is going to get better with time
  • Sudden calmness: If you know someone has been dealing with depression or mood swings, they may become unexpectedly calm. This can be a sign they’ve decided to end their life.
  • Withdrawal: Someone considering suicide may spend more time alone and avoid social activities or times with friends and family.
  • Dangerous behavior: Engaging in unsafe sex, reckless driving, or increased drug or alcohol use can indicate someone no longer values their life.
  • Threatening suicide: WebMD states that 50 to 75 percent of those considering suicide will provide friends or family warning signs. Not everyone considering suicide will give such a warning, nor everyone who threatens to kill themselves will follow through. Every threat should be taken seriously.

Sources

Depression Statistics. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.dbsalliance.org/education/depression/statistics/

Facts & Statistics. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://adaa.org/about-adaa/press-room/facts-statistics#targetText=Anxiety disorders are the most,of those suffering receive treatment

Anxiety and Depression–First Cousins, At Least (Pt 2 of 5). (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/evolution-the-self/201005/anxiety-and-depression-first-cousins-least-pt-2-5

Suicide Statistics. (2019, April 16). Retrieved from https://afsp.org/about-suicide/suicide-statistics/

Goldberg, J. (2018, March 2). How to Recognize Symptoms of Suicidal Behavior. Retrieved from https://www.webmd.com/mental-health/recognizing-suicidal-behavior#1

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