Although anxiety and depression are distinct disorders, it is quite common for the features of both disorders to be combined for any individual. It is unusual to see a depressed person who does not have feelings of worry, nervousness, irritability and some problems with sleeping and concentration. Similarly, individuals diagnosed with anxiety disorder often eventually develop feelings of hopelessness and despair, adding a depressive component to their anxiety. Because of the overlap, many treatment approaches are the same and a variety of the medications to treat these disorders have both anxiety reduction and qualities that also address depressive difficulties.
Anxiety or Depressive Disorder
In order to have a diagnosable anxiety or depressive disorder, the primary criteria is the length and duration of the symptoms. Everybody has periods of nervousness, tension and difficulties falling asleep. These tend to be situational in nature and often are not long lasting. When the symptoms persist over a longer periods of time, professional help is often indicated.
Anxiety disorders are characterized in the following way:
- Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD)
- Acute Stress Disorders
- Agoraphobia with or without a history of panic
- Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD)
- Panic Disorder, with or without Agoraphobia
- Simple Phobias, including Social Phobia and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
All of these disorders cause a great deal of distress. They can lead a person to avoid anxiety provoking situations, can limit the individual’s activities. There may be the fear that they may get anxious at a time when help is not readily available. Intense anxiety can shatter a person’s confidence and lead to lower self esteem and, as mentioned, they can also lead to eventual feelings of despair, hopelessness and helplessness, features that are often described with depression.
Anxiety typically has a bodily, as well as psychological component. Bodily, there is frequently muscle tension and increased heart rate. When anxiety because severe, there is a fight vs. flight quality in the sense that the body is preparing itself for danger. Sometimes these intense anxiety symptoms occur without a clear, apparent cause.
General Anxiety Disorder
General Anxiety Disorder (GAD) is described by pervasive feelings of anxiety, including bodily symptoms and feelings of dread. There is excessive worry that can be pervasive in nature. The features of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder include obsessional thoughts, which are often persistent, irrational and are difficult to control. Compulsions are actions, usually associated with the obsession, designed with the hope that the individual will feel better. With the hope of getting relief, the individual must feel that they must carry out the the compulsion, often leading to ritualistic behavior.
Panic and Phobia
Panic and phobia is often related to an identifying stressor where there are periods of powerful anxiety that can lead an individual to feel like they are going crazy. Typically, there is a great deal of anticipatory anxiety related to a situation in which the person feels that they will have panic. There are intense bodily symptoms with acute panic, often leading a person feel that they may have to go to a hospital.
Post Traumatic Stress Disorder
Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is certainly more in the news today with soldiers coming back from their wartime experiences with a variety of symptoms. In the past, these symptoms were termed Combat Fatigue. They develop because of an individual’s exposure to an intolerably stressful and painful situations that can feel overwhelming. The symptoms include possible nightmares and flashbacks of painful events and overreaction to loud noises or bright lights.
Anxiety Disorders are highly treatable. Research indicates that the combination of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) and medication is the most effective treatment for both anxiety and depression. One of the concerns with untreated anxiety and depression is the person tends to self medicate. These individuals are in danger of abusing alcohol or taking illegal drugs.
Depressive disorders are often termed mood disorders. They are characterized by feelings of sadness, hopelessness, lack of joy and a lack of motivation. They can interfere with functioning and, if untreated, can lead to feelings of such despair that suicide can be seen as a promising alternative.
Depressive or mood disorders are broken up into three major categories. They are:
- Major Depression, which involves significant depressive symptoms including problems with the ability to sleep, often changes in appetite and either weight gains or weight losses and lack of motivation and interest to work, study or play.
- Dysthymia is less severe, but more long term and chronic. Dysthymia is characterized by anhydonia, which is a lack of ability to gain pleasure out of life. There can also be appetite and sleeping problems.
- Bipolar Disorder, formerly called Manic Depression, is a mood disorder which may focus primarily on feelings of mania, which are characterized by over excitability, grandiosity and high energy levels, cycling with a depressive episode. The disorders can be cyclical in nature or the individual may have more than one phase of the disorder than the other.
Once again, psychological treatment and medication is, by far, the best treatment approach. The prognosis is typically good, but often medication is indicated for a lengthy period of time and adherence to medication, particularly for Bipolar Disorder, is often a problem. The individual with Bipolar Disorder is often noncompliant with the medication, because they lose the potential of the manic high, which bring the feeling of excitement and grandiosity.
Call us today for more information on anxiety and depressive disorder treatment in Baltimore, MD call us at 410-828-6062.