How anxiety can lead to depression
Many of us think of anxiety and depression as separate disorders characterized by different symptoms. Anxiety is usually described as the experience of being stressed, scared, or worried. We also often hear about the physical experiences of anxiety, including difficulty breathing, a racing heart, shakiness, or stomach upset. Depression is typically experienced as sadness, hopelessness, fatigue, changes in sleep, or suicidal thoughts. In my clinical practice I often see them coexisting together.
The state of anxiety activates our nervous system and puts us in fight or flight. During this state, our bodies are on edge and we are hyper aware of our environment and inner thoughts. When we are in this state often or have experienced chronic anxiety it can be exhausting. It can feel like a roller coaster as you experience the ups and downs of stress and thought cycles. This experience can lead to hopelessness. It can lead to shame, self-criticism, and isolation. If left untreated, it can lead to depression.
Depression is not always triggered by anxiety and each person’s experience is unique. But, we can see how untreated anxiety can lead to depression. If you experience panic attacks and struggle to leave the house, it can be difficult to maintain relationships. The panic attacks can also impact school attendance and work. When someone is unable to meet the daily demands of life it can fuel self-criticism. If someone struggles with generalized anxiety disorder they often experience significant worry, rumination, and physical discomfort. Moving through life can feel like a never ending hamster wheel of worries and predictive negative outcomes.
By addressing anxiety we can often reduce experiences of depression. When you can challenge your negative thoughts and find effective ways to cope you collect new evidence. You can begin to collect evidence of your strengths and accomplishments, rather than your weaknesses.
Find out how CBT can help.
what would that look like for you?