By Danny Zane, Integrative Therapist and Counsellor ProDip CPCAB BACP

Depression and anxiety are two common mental health conditions that I often work with. They are often felt together in co-existence, although it is important to note they are distinct conditions with their own unique features and treatment approaches.

Some reasons they can occur together are overlapping common symptoms such as sleep disturbance, difficulties concentrating, irritability, and appetite changes.

There can be dysregulation in our brain’s neurotransmitters, in particular serotonin and norepinephrine, which contribute too disturbances in our moods. As well as this chemical imbalances with our hormones can cause both depression and anxiety.

Stress and or trauma can trigger both these feelings.

Certain personality traits, such as high levels of neuroticism, perfectionism, or a tendency to worry, can predispose individuals to both depression and anxiety.

A lack of social support, financial stress or a unhealthy living environment can bring on both depression and anxiety.

Here are explanations of both:

Depression is a mental health condition characterised by persistent feelings of sadness, hopelessness, and a lack of interest or pleasure in activities that were once enjoyable. It goes beyond the normal ups and downs of life and can significantly impact a person’s daily functioning.

Key features of depression can include:

Persistent Low Mood: Individuals with depression often experience a pervasive and enduring low mood that persists for most of the day, nearly every day, for at least two weeks or longer.

Loss of Interest and Pleasure: People with depression may lose interest in activities they once enjoyed and find it difficult to derive pleasure from things they used to love.

Fatigue and Low Energy: Depression can lead to constant feelings of tiredness and low energy, even after a full night’s sleep.

Changes in Appetite and Weight: Some individuals may experience significant changes in their appetite and weight, either gaining or losing weight unintentionally.

Sleep Disturbances: Sleep problems are common in depression, which can manifest as insomnia (difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep) or hypersomnia (excessive daytime sleepiness).

Feelings of Worthlessness or Guilt: Depressed individuals may often feel a profound sense of worthlessness, guilt, or self-criticism.

Difficulty Concentrating: Many people with depression struggle with concentration, decision-making, and memory.

Physical Symptoms: Depression can also manifest physically with symptoms such as headaches, stomach aches, and unexplained aches and pains.

Thoughts of Death or Suicidal Ideation: In severe cases, individuals with depression may experience thoughts of death or suicide, and it’s essential to take such thoughts seriously and seek immediate help.

Anxiety is a natural response to stress or danger, but when it becomes chronic or disproportionate to the situation, it can be considered an anxiety disorder. Anxiety disorders are characterized by excessive worry, fear, and a heightened state of alertness. There are several types of anxiety disorders, including generalised anxiety disorder (GAD), social anxiety disorder, panic disorder, and specific phobias.

Common features of anxiety disorders include:

Excessive Worry: People with anxiety disorders often worry excessively about various aspects of their life, such as work, relationships, health, or the future, even when there’s no apparent reason for concern.

Physical Symptoms: Anxiety can lead to physical symptoms like restlessness, muscle tension, trembling, sweating, and a racing heart (palpitations).

Irrational Fears: Individuals with specific phobias experience intense and irrational fears of specific objects or situations, like heights, spiders, or flying.

Panic Attacks: Panic disorder is characterized by sudden and intense episodes of fear and physical symptoms, such as chest pain, shortness of breath, and a feeling of impending doom.

Avoidance: People with anxiety disorders may go to great lengths to avoid situations or triggers that cause anxiety, which can limit their daily activities and social interactions.

Difficulty Relaxing: Anxiety can make it challenging to relax, leading to persistent tension and an inability to unwind.

Physical Health Impact: Prolonged anxiety can have a negative impact on physical health, contributing to conditions like high blood pressure and digestive problems.

It’s important to note that depression and anxiety often coexist, and they can have overlapping symptoms. Effective therapy, like Person-Centred Integrative therapy, aims to provide individuals with coping strategies and support to manage these conditions, helping them work towards improved mental health and well-being.

My integrated, Person-Centred approach to both depression and anxiety include unconditional positive regard, empathy, and genuineness. My approach allows me to draw from a range of psychotherapeutic techniques and theories to tailor treatment to each client’s unique needs.

Depression: Who has it?

By Mimi Goess-Sauraru >

Clinical depression has been likened to a modern epidemic, with most cases undiagnosed and untreated. Yet the toll in human happiness and productivity is tremendous. Untreated depression can potentially lead to broken relationships, substance misuse, job loss, compulsive behaviours and, at the worst, self-harm and suicide.

About 15% of us have a bout of Major Depression at some point in our lives and it is the 4th most common cause of disability worldwide. Each year in the United Kingdom about 4000 people tragically destroy themselves as the result of untreated depression.

What is it?

Some common Symptoms of Depression are:

  • Feelings of sadness
  • Irritability, frustration, agitation, or restlessness
  • Loss of interest or pleasure in normal activities
  • Insomnia or excessive sleeping
  • Changes in appetite or weight
  • Indecisiveness, distractibility, or decreased concentration
  • Fatigue, tiredness, or loss of energy
  • Feelings of worthlessness or guilt
  • Trouble with thinking, concentrating, making decisions, or remembering things
  • Thoughts of death, dying, or suicide

What causes it?

Depression doesn’t have a single cause. Most likely it’s caused by a combination of factors that may include:

  • Family history of depression
  • Brain Chemistry
  • Life events and stressors (academic, personal, or financial stress)
  • Environmental factors (like a change of seasons)
  • Serious illnesses
  • Losses
  • Experiencing prolonged bias/discrimination

4. Very few people grow up in conditions that are perfect for them. Some are constrained by their environment. Others experience unexpected, traumatic events that alter their outlook on life. As a psychodynamically orientated therapist I believe that our past experiences, especially in childhood influence how we see and interact with the world as adults. Some of these beliefs we have are conscious and others are unconscious. These unconscious beliefs can sometimes lead us into situations we would rather not be in and at times lead to exasperation; “how did I end up here again”?.

My job is to help my clients to become more conscious of some of these beliefs so that they have more choice over their actions. I’m here to listen and give you a place where you can feel safe and heard. I’m committed to helping you achieve a better understanding of yourself.