Can a Person Have Severe Depression and Anxiety Symptoms at the Same Time?
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Mental health challenges can come from many different directions. That’s why it’s not unusual for a person to be diagnosed with more than one mental health disorder. In fact, one disorder can often cause symptoms of another.


Depression of different types, including severe depression, can often trigger symptoms of anxiety, and vice versa. You can also receive separate diagnoses of both. So, yes, you can experience severe depression and anxiety at the same time, and we’ll discuss how. However, it’s also possible to have symptoms of anxiety or depression without having an anxiety disorder or major depressive disorder (MDD).


Read on to learn the basics of severe depression and anxiety as well as how they’re connected. Then we’ll go over treatment options that can benefit both.


What to know about severe depression and anxiety symptoms


Depression and anxiety are two of the most common mental health disorders (we’ll talk more about this in this article’s next section). Depression refers to major depressive disorder, while anxiety usually refers to generalized anxiety disorder. Other anxiety disorders include obsessive-compulsive disorder and panic disorder.


Depression is a mood disorder that causes overwhelming negative thoughts and emotions. Common symptoms include pervasive feelings of sadness, loss of interest in activities and lack of energy. Severe depression means that the symptoms are interfering with your ability to function on a day-to-day basis, including job responsibilities and personal hygiene.


Generalized anxiety disorder, or simply anxiety, leads to excessive worry and nerves, even without a direct cause. It can also trigger symptoms such as concentration issues and restlessness. Anxiety can interfere with your productivity and interpersonal relationships.


How severe depression and anxiety are connected


Both depression and anxiety affect hundreds of millions of people around the world. Research shows that 3.7% of the global population (or more than 299 million people) are affected by generalized anxiety disorder in their lifetime, making it one of the most common types of mental health disorder. Depression is close behind in prevalence rate, affecting 280 million people.


It’s possible to be diagnosed with an anxiety disorder as well as depression. Studies show that up to 50% of participants who met the criteria for depression also had an anxiety disorder.


It’s also common for an initial diagnosis of one mental health disorder to have symptoms of the other. In fact, research shows that 59% of people with generalized anxiety disorder experience symptoms of major depressive disorder (MDD). The numbers are similar for those who have an MDD diagnosis with symptoms of an anxiety disorder.


Up to 5% of primary care patients have mixed anxiety-depression. This means that a person experiences symptoms of both disorders but doesn’t reach the criteria for a proper diagnosis.


Researchers haven’t found a definitive reason why the two disorders are connected. There have been several theories, including:


  • Similar biological mechanisms pertaining to receptors in the brain
  • Shared symptoms, including concentration and sleep issues
  • Being triggered by the same external stressors or traumatic events


How Lightfully treats severe depression and anxiety


When you have a mental health disorder, proper treatment can play a huge role in improving your overall quality of life. Whether you have severe depression, anxiety or both, it’s important to seek support. 


Both severe depression and anxiety symptoms can be alleviated through psychotherapy. By talking to a licensed clinical therapist, you can pinpoint the root of your disorders and develop the skill set you need to manage your symptoms on a daily basis.


At Lightfully, we use a framework that consists of evidence-based, clearly defined, data-driven and whole-person-centered care. We use a process-based therapy model in every level of care. This approach to therapy allows us to provide you with a holistic, personalized treatment plan that treats you beyond your severe depression and anxiety. 


Process-based therapy uses integrated interventions, such as arousal reduction and values clarification, to address the core processes that are at the base of all mental health disorders, including severe depression and anxiety. The four core processes are:


  • Difficulty with behaviors
  • Difficulty with emotions
  • Difficulty with thoughts
  • Difficulty with relationships


Lightfully Behavioral Health can help severe depression and anxiety


Both severe depression and anxiety can interfere with every facet of your daily life. While having more than one disorder isn’t easy, it’s important to stay motivated, trust your support system and continue moving along your mental health journey. 


At Lightfully, we want to make sure you have the tools you need to combat severe depression and anxiety symptoms. That’s why we build process-based therapy into every level of mental health care that we offer. 


Change is possible. When you’re ready to find kind and supportive care for your GAD & MDD, reach out to our Admissions Concierge Team. We’ll help you find out what steps we can take together, toward the fullest, brightest version of you.

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