General anxiety and depression very often occur together. Sometimes the anxiety comes alone first and then leads to depression, other times depression leads to anxiety. General anxiety, or “Generalized Anxiety Disorder” as it’s called by the medical community, refers to one particular type of anxiety disorder. The symptoms of GAD are numerous, but one common element is the tendency to get overly worried.
According to the National Institute of Mental Health, People who suffer from this are stressed and worried even when there is nothing to realistically worry about. They are usually fatalistic in their outlook on the world, always expecting the worst, “They anticipate disaster and are overly concerned about health issues, money, family problems, or difficulties at work. Sometimes just the thought of getting through the day produces anxiety.”(NIMH).
General anxiety and depression can each greatly limit the lives of both the individual suffering from it and the people around her. When the two occur in combination, it can make it difficult to lead a normal life. It is not uncommon to treat both general anxiety and depression with a combination of medication and therapy. In some cases, generalized anxiety disorders are even treated with antidepressants like SSRI’s, Tricyclics or MAOI’s. All of these antidepressants can be helpful in treating anxiety symptoms, but there are often side effects, and they usually require 4-6 weeks before they fully work.
In addition to anti-depressants, there are specific medicines available to treat anxiety symptoms. These anti-anxiety drugs can often relieve the symptoms of anxiety, but they usually carry a high risk of dependency, and many people experience that their tolerance increases with time, and they require higher and higher doses to get the desired calming effect.
In some cases, medication can help stabilize people, so they are more receptive to treatment, but they are often not a good long term solution. It is important to know that medication does not cure anxiety or depression, but rather temporarily stabilizes the mood. Also, studies show that youth and young adults through the age of 24, that are treated with SRI’s, have more suicidal thoughts than people in their age group diagnosed with depression but not treated with SSRI’s.
In addition to medication, the most common form of treatment for both generalized anxiety disorder and depression is cognitive behavioral therapy. This type of psychotherapy focuses on changing the way you think and behave, believing you’re your negative thought patterns and habits are responsible for a lot of anxiety and depression.
As long as the general anxiety and depression are mild to moderate, the person struggling with it can often function in that he or she can hold a job and perform basic everyday tasks. When the anxiety and depression worsens, basic things like going to work or taking care of one’s grocery shopping can become un- manageable tasks.
Managing general anxiety is not always easy, but there’s a lot you can do to help yourself. You are not a victim, and there is nothing outside of you threatening to harm you. Whether you take care of yourself or get professional help with your general anxiety and depression, remember that you are the one in control and at the end of the day; you are the one who has to do the work.