The Anxiety Depression Connection

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Depression and anxiety are related.  This may seem, at first, to be counterintuitive.  Depression is thought of as being a state wherein a person has little or no energy while anxiety seems like a heightened state of energy manifesting in the form of nervousness and other physical symptoms.

Their treatments are very similar and often overlap, however, causing one to wonder if these two conditions are more alike than they may first appear.  The similarities and interaction between these two conditions requires a closer look.

Similar Treatments

Antidepressant medications are obviously known for their role in treating depression.  What is not as well known is that these same medications are often employed in the treatment of conditions involving anxiety with great success.  This suggests some sort of link or common cause within the brain.

Antidepressants affect certain neurotransmitters so it would seem that at least some of the neurotransmitters that play a role in one condition would also play an active role in the other.  The exact nature of this connection is still unclear.


Each condition alone can create a difficult situation for both the patient and the treating clinician to take on.  When both are present in the same patient then the symptoms of both are typically more severe than when they exist independently of each other.

When depression exists with anxiety then the suicide rate is higher than it would be if the depression were the sole diagnosis.  The fact that the two conditions affect each other in such a dynamic way leads one to consider just how closely related the basic mechanisms of each are related.


Anxiety, depression, and related conditions can lead to a patient attempting to self-medicate to seek relief from symptoms.  In the case of alcohol or drug use, this could lead to substance abuse and drug addiction.  Both can also lead to a withdrawal from life, adding to the symptoms of depression and adding a depressive element to anxiety conditions.

Without human interaction, the sense of isolation increases which can lead to feelings of powerlessness over one’s condition, hopelessness, and ultimately despair.  It becomes a self-perpetuating cycle.

Depression and anxiety appear to be related.  They respond to the same medications and have troublesome interactions when they are both present in one patient.  The exact connection may still be unclear, but the link exists.  This connection may someday allow researchers to unravel the causes of both to find better methods of treatment and relief for those who suffer.

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