Quite often I have clients seeking help with BOTH Depression and Anxiety.
They might seem like they come together bundled as one, which can be quite confusing when you think about it - because depression is a decreased Nervous system response and anxiety is more of an increased excitability in the Nervous System. They seem the opposite, so how can they come together?
When clients have both, I have observed a pattern. It quite often goes like this:
The person has been suffering with Anxiety for a long period of time. Over time, living with Anxiety, life has become more challenging and they do not like the experience of what is happening. This frustration / pain accumulates over time. They want life to be another way than what it is, and as a result, they get increasingly frustrated or more resigned. This is often a causative factor in leading to the depression.
Along with this, anxiety takes up LOTS of energy, physically and mentally, and when going on for long enough, it seems like people go into an adaptive response of shutting down energy in an attempt to lessen the anxiety - but this lessens life and depression begins to manifest.
A great metaphor is when your phone battery is low and it goes into energy saving mode. In an attempt to keep going or lessen the anxiety, the energy drops down, but this causes other problems.
Is Depression a Side Effect of Anxiety?
In some ways, (reading the previous segment), you could say that depression is a side effect of anxiety.
This is great news for my clients, because when we address the anxiety, the depression lifts at the same time.
A better way to look at this is not depression being a 'side effect' of anxiety, but the depression and anxiety are both adaptive responses.
Both sets of symptoms are an indication that the individual is not living life in a way that is working optimally. Often, this could be due to negative thinking patterns, accumulation of too much stress, or trauma that has not been dealt with.
I think it's best to see it this way because then we know that it's something we can work with and get results!!!
Why do people with anxiety get depression?
Depression is such a misunderstood topic and this lack of understanding causes so much trouble for so many people. Thousand and thousands of people go on medication when they do not need to.
Depression (like most symptoms) is your bodies way of telling you that something is wrong and needs to change. Unfortunately, most people just observe the depressed feeling and want that to go away, rather than becoming aware of what else needs to be addressed. This is exactly why most approaches fail; they focus on the wrong thing.
So many people with anxiety get depressed because they try and live with their anxiety or just try to accept it - or, they work really hard to try and overcome it and have nothing work for them.
Mainly because life is not how they would like it to be and, over time, this gap becomes too large, and they feel helpless to be able to close the gap.