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Depression and Anxiety Symptoms and Treatment

writtenByWritten by: Tessa Chatham Registered Nurse
Tessa Chatham Registered Nurse

Tessa Chatham Registered Nurse

Tessa is a MSN prepared Registered Nurse with 10 years of critical care experience in healthcare. When not practicing clinical nursing, she enjoys academic writing and is passionate about helping those affected by medical aliments live healthy lives.

Read more posts by this author.
reviewBy Reviewed by: Dr. Katalin Karolyi
Reviewer

Dr. Katalin Karolyi

Katalin Karolyi, M.D. earned her medical degree at the University of Debrecen. After completing her residency program in pathology at the Kenezy Hospital, she obtained a postdoctoral position at Sanford Burnham Prebys Medical Discovery Institute, Orlando, Florida.

August 23, 2021 Read Time - 6 minutes

Understanding Depression and Anxiety Symptoms and Treatment

Depression and anxiety are both mental health conditions that can have a significant impact on your daily life. Gaining a better understanding of the symptoms of anxiety and depression can be a first step toward getting the help you need.

Depression and anxiety are distinct clinical diagnoses. Keep reading to find more about the symptoms of anxiety and depression, their respective causes, and treatments such as therapy.

  • Browse our network of top therapist to find one that matches your needs.

  • Get private and secure emotional support weekly from your dedicated therapist.

  • Experience comprehensive care with unlimited access to your care team and primary care physician.

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Depression Symptoms

Depression is more than feeling down, sad, or low. Depression is a mental illness that affects your daily life and ability to perform daily functions. Depression is defined by the DSM-5 by the following criteria. The following five or more symptoms must be experienced during a 2-week period to be classified as clinical depression:

  • Depressed mood most of the day, nearly every day.
  • Diminished interest or pleasure in all, or almost all  activities most of the day, nearly every day.
  • Significant weight changes either loss or gain.
  • A slowing down of cognition and a reduction of physical movement (observable by others).
  • Fatigue or loss of energy nearly every day.
  • Feelings of worthlessness or excessive guilt nearly every day.
  • Indecisiveness and the diminished ability to think or concentrate.
  • Recurrent thoughts of death, recurrent suicidal thoughts with or without a specific plan, or a suicide attempt or a specific plan for committing suicide.

Depression Causes

Depression is caused by a combination of genetic and environmental factors. According to some studies, in most cases of depression, around 50% of the cause is genetic while around 50% is unrelated to genes and are caused by environmental factors.

Many times depression and mental illness runs in families which are identified as genetic predispositions. If you have a parent or sibling with major depression, your likelihood of developing depression is 2 or 3 times greater compared with the average person.

Non-genetic (environmental) causes of depression are caused by things that happened to you such as:

  • Severe childhood physical or sexual abuse
  • Certain medications or chronic illness
  • Severe life stress
  • Losing a parent early in life

All of these factors will also likely increase the risk of depression to some extent alongside genetic components. 

How to Treat Depression

Depression treatment is a combination of many therapies. The most common form of treatment for depression is a combination of prescription medication and therapy. 

Often, medications are prescribed to reduce symptoms of depression so that the person is able to function daily. Medication is also used to dampen the intense emotions that surface during therapy sessions. 

Many different types and classes of prescription medications are available to treat depression. One medication type may work well for some but not others. Sometimes you have to try a few medications before you find one that works for you and one that minimizes your symptoms of depression. 


Read More: Medicine for Depression


Therapy for Depression

Many forms of therapy exist to treat depression. Therapy is a term used when a licensed professional makes appointments with you to sit down and talk about issues in your life and how to deal with them in healthy ways. The most common types of psychological therapy used to treat depression include:

  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy 
  • Internal Family Systems Therapy
  • Psychotherapy
  • Dialectical Behavior Therapy

How to Treat Anxiety

Anxiety is more than temporary worry or fear. Anxiety is a mental illness that affects your daily life and thoughts. 

Anxiety and depression often go hand in hand, which is why treatments used to treat depression are often used to treat anxiety. Prescription medications, therapy, and relaxation techniques are used to treat anxiety. Many different types and classes of prescription medications are available to treat anxiety.  

Minimizing anxiety symptoms can take a lot of work and usually isn’t “fixed” by just taking a pill. This is why medications, psychotherapy, and other relaxation techniques should be practiced in order to reduce anxiety symptoms.

Anxiety Symptoms

Anxiety is a broad term used to describe several different anxiety disorders. Anxiety disorders include generalized anxiety disorder, social anxiety disorder, selective mutism, separation anxiety, and panic disorder to name a few.

Common symptoms of anxiety disorders include:

  • Feeling restless, wound-up, or on-edge
  • Being easily fatigued
  • Having difficulty concentrating or your mind going blank
  • Being irritable
  • Having muscle tension
  • Difficulty controlling feelings of worry
  • Having sleep problems, such as difficulty falling or staying asleep, restlessness, or unsatisfying sleep
  • Heart palpitations, a pounding heartbeat, or an accelerated heart rate
  • Sweating
  • Trembling or shaking
  • Sensations of shortness of breath, smothering, or choking
  • Feelings of impending doom
  • Feelings of being out of control
  • May have an irrational or excessive worry about encountering the feared object or situation
  • Take active steps to avoid the feared object or situation
  • Experience immediate intense anxiety upon encountering the feared object or situation (phobia)
  • Experience unavoidable objects and situations with intense anxiety

Anxiety symptoms can be physically and emotionally painful, and in order to treat anxiety, you have to understand the causes of anxiety.


Related: Anxiety Doctor | What They Are and What They Can Do for You


Anxiety Causes

Anxiety is caused by genetic and environmental factors and can be made worse by environmental factors. Familial traits such as a history of anxiety or other mental illnesses in biological relatives puts you more at risk to have anxiety. Anxiety traits can be passed down, but environmental factors play a greater role in anxiety. 

Environmental factors that put people at risk to develop anxiety disorders include:

  • Traits of shyness or behavioral inhibition in childhood
  • Exposure to stressful and negative life or environmental events in early childhood or adulthood
  • Long term (chronic) or short-term stress
  • Traumatic events such as intimate partner violence, physical violence, physical and sexual abuse, refugee trauma, natural disasters, abandonment, and/or neglect

Some physical health conditions can mimic anxiety attacks such as thyroid or heart problems, so it is important to see a doctor if you have physical symptoms of anxiety.

Therapy for Anxiety

Anxiety treatment includes prescription medications and psychotherapy. Therapy is an important aspect to treat anxiety related disorders. Therapy helps heal from issues while giving people tools needed to navigate their daily lives. 

The most common types of therapy used to treat anxiety include:

  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy 
  • Psychological Treatment
  • Dialectical Behaviour Therapy
  • Exposure Therapy 
  • Browse our network of top therapist to find one that matches your needs.

  • Get private and secure emotional support weekly from your dedicated therapist.

  • Experience comprehensive care with unlimited access to your care team and primary care physician.

PlushCare-App-Steps

Get Treatment for Anxiety and Depression Online

Anxiety and depression disorders are very common and treatable. Anxiety and depression treatment includes prescription medication and therapy. If you are suffering from symptoms of  anxiety or depression, make an appointment to speak with a PlushCare doctor or online therapist today to discuss treatment options. 


Read More About Depression and Anxiety Symptoms and Treatment


Sources:

PlushCare is dedicated to providing you with accurate and trustworthy health information.

National Institute of Mental Health. Anxiety disorders. Accessed on July 25, 2021 from https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/anxiety-disorders/

Mayo Clinic. Anxiety Disorders. Symptoms and Causes. Accessed on August 09,2021 at
https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/anxiety/symptoms-causes/syc-20350961

American Psychiatric Association. What is Depression? Accessed on August 09,2021 at
https://www.psychiatry.org/patients-families/depression/what-is-depression

National Institute of Mental Health. Depression. Accessed on August 09,2021 at
https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/depression/

Dual Diagnosis. Psychotherapies for Anxiety Treatment. Accessed on August 10,2021 at
https://dualdiagnosis.org/generalized-anxiety-disorder/anxiety-treatment/

Most PlushCare articles are reviewed by M.D.s, Ph.Ds, N.P.s, nutritionists and other healthcare professionals. Click here to learn more and meet some of the professionals behind our blog. The PlushCare blog, or any linked materials are not intended and should not be construed as medical advice, nor is the information a substitute for professional medical expertise or treatment. For more information click here.

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