Depression and Anxiety
Do you feel anxious at times and a bit afraid of things too? Does your heart start beating at a very rapid pace at such times? Does it feel like you are about to have a panic attack? Simultaneously at times do you feel sadness along with a feeling of a hollowness within yourselves? Does this appear to be the symptoms of depression?
Do not just come to the conclusion that having such symptoms means that you have anxiety and depression. Read along to know what they actually mean. If you experience the above mentioned symptoms, do consult a doctor timely to be diagnosed with the disease at an early stage.
What are Depression and Anxiety?
Both depression and anxiety are mental health disorders. Often compared to the two sides of a coin, depression, and anxiety are two separate conditions but often one of these conditions leads to the other in a person. Due to this, a person’s wellness is affected drastically.
Depression: Depression is also referred to as major depressive disorder. It is a mood disorder. In this condition, there is a continuous feeling of sadness and hopelessness. The person loses interest in everyday activities. It negatively affects how you think and feel. You also tend to have a change in your behavior. There is a feeling of hopelessness and worthlessness within you.
Anxiety: Anxiety is how your body responds to stress. It can occur as a feeling of fear and panic. For example, if you have to go on stage to give a speech, it can cause a feeling of anxiety due to nervousness. Such anxiety is not a matter of concern. On the contrary, to have feelings of anxieties that have lasted for more than six months and of extreme nature is a matter of concern.
The symptoms of both depression and anxiety can involve physical as well as emotional traits.
Symptoms of Depression:
- Physical Symptoms –
- Feeling of fatigue
- Changes in dietary habit
- Changes in weight- either weight gain or weight loss
- Difficulty in concentration
- Difficulty in making decisions
- Gastrointestinal problems
- Change in sleep patterns
- Emotional Symptoms –
- Feeling of hopelessness
- Continuous feeling of sadness
- Feeling of hollowness within
- Feeling of worthlessness
- Pessimistic views
- Loss of interest in everyday routine works
- Suicidal thoughts
- Physical Symptoms –
Symptoms of Anxiety
- Physical Symptoms
- Feeling weak continuously
- Increased heart rate
- Difficulty in sleeping
- Muscle tension
- Grinding teeth
- Difficulty in concentration
- Emotional Symptoms
- Difficulty in controlling fear
- Continuous feeling of worry
- Physical Symptoms
Causes of Depression:
Depression can be caused due to a variety of reasons. It could be either due to circumstantial reasons or biological.
- Trauma in Childhood: An event or certain occurrence in childhood could lead to recurring fear in the child which later evolves to depression.
- Family History: If you have a family history of mental health illnesses, then it could be a cause for occurrence of depression in you.
- Medical Conditions: Certain medical conditions could lead to depression. Examples are insomnia and chronic illnesses.
- Structure of the Brain: if the frontal lobe of the brain is not active, it could lead to depression.
- Use of Drug(s): Usage of drugs like cocaine, heroin, LSD could lead to depression.
- Alcohol Use: Excessive intake of alcohol can lead to depression in certain persons.
Causes of Anxiety
Studies have not been able to prove the exact causes of anxiety. It is believed to be caused due to a combination of environmental and genetic factors. Anxiety is often caused in patients suffering from certain medical conditions. Signs of anxiety will probably be the first signs for a medical condition. Few diseases like heart diseases, hyperthyroidism, asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease can cause anxiety. Alcohol withdrawal and medications like anti-anxiety medications can also cause anxiety. Misuse of drugs is another reason why anxiety occurs.
Anxiety and depression cannot be diagnosed by a blood test or diagnostic tests. It needs a complete physical examination first. Any medical illnesses which lead to depression can be diagnosed through physical examination. Also, the doctor will ask for a detailed personal history
Tests for Depression
The physical tests will focus basically on the neurological and endocrine systems. Some of the illnesses caused in the central nervous system like stroke, head trauma, multiple sclerosis cause depression in the patient.
Tests for Anxiety
There are certain self-assessment questionnaires which are used to determine types of anxiety disorder.
- Hamilton Anxiety Scale (HAM-A): The Hamilton Anxiety Scale was developed in 1959. It involves a questionnaire of 14 questions evaluating fears, moods and tensions. This questionnaire also involves the evaluation of mental, physical and behavioral traits in the person. It is one of the widely used tests to determine anxiety.
- Zung Self Rating Anxiety Scale: The Zung Self-Rating Anxiety Scale is a questionnaire that consists of 20 questions. It involves questions with respect to nervousness, shaking, rapid heart rate, frequent urination, anxiety, and nightmares. Trained personnel analyze the test answers to determine if the person suffers from anxiety or not.
- Social Phobia Inventory: The Social Phobia Inventory test is a questionnaire of 17 questions. As the name suggests, it determines if the person who has answered the questionnaire has social phobia or not.
- Generalized Anxiety Disorder Scale: The Generalized Anxiety Disorder Scale test is a questionnaire having a set of 7 questions. The test determines if a person has generalized anxiety disorder or not. The questions ask about various parameters of feelings within the last two weeks of the person taking the test.
Treatment of Depression
The treatment of depression can be categorized into –
- Medications: Depression is treated with the help of medications. It should be noted that treatment of depression is a long term process. It cannot be cured in just a matter of days. Your doctor will prescribe you antidepressants. It could be one medication or a combination of medications. The doctor might also prescribe antipsychotics and mood stabilizers along with antidepressants.
- Psychotherapy: Psychotherapy is explained in the next section.
- ECT: ECT stands for Electroconvulsive Therapy. In this procedure of treatment, electric currents are passed through the patient’s brain. The objective is to impact the functioning of neurotransmitters in your brain. It in turn becomes a cure for depression. This method is used for patients who do not respond well to medications and have higher suicidal tendencies.
Treatment of Anxiety
The treatment of anxiety can be categorized into –
- Psychotherapy: Psychotherapy is also referred to as talk therapy or psychological counselling. It is an effective treatment for the condition. In this procedure, the therapist and the patient have regular sessions in which they talk about the condition of the patient. The reason that triggers the anxiety is determined by the therapist. The patient is taught to determine those triggers and eventually try to learn to ignore it. Consequently, those anxiety attacks will stop to occur over time.
- Medications: When the anxiety problem in the patient is a severe one, the doctor uses medications as the mode of treatment. Along with psychotherapy, medications can also be prescribed. The medications include anti-anxiety pills and sedatives in certain cases.
When to see a Doctor?
If you are facing any of the symptoms of anxiety and depression mentioned above for a period of more than two weeks, you should seek a consultation with your doctor. Your doctor can refer you to a psychiatrist. If left untreated these symptoms can get more intense and lead to suicidal thoughts.
Anxiety and depression issues in people have become quite common nowadays. This does not mean it should be taken lightly. Women after the delivery of a child face this too and the condition is called as postpartum depression. Both of these mental health disorders affect the person’s daily routine. In severe cases the person feels handicapped too as he becomes dependent on a family member or friend. It leads to various odd behaviors too which is not accepted socially. Hence, at the first sight of symptoms, the person or the caregiver of the person should take the person for a proper and detailed checkup.