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The Link Between Anxiety, Depression & Other Mood Disorders

Anxiety Disorders and Mood Disorders make up some of the most common Mental Health Conditions for adults in the United States. Despite how common they are, though, there is still plenty of misunderstanding surrounding these disorders—especially when it comes to the relationship between them.  

Comorbidity between Anxiety Disorders and Mood Disorders such as Depressive Disorders can be complicated, but a Licensed Clinical Psychologist can help you understand the intersection of these Mental Health Conditions. Read on to learn more about the link between Anxiety, Depression, and other Mood Disorders and see how their similarities and comorbidity influence symptoms, diagnosis, treatment, and more. 

Understanding Anxiety Disorders 

Anxiety Disorders occur when everyday worry and stress turns into overwhelming feelings of fear, dread, and distress. Though anxiety itself is a natural response to stressful situations, Anxiety Disorders exacerbate that response until it takes over your entire life—even if there is no real threat or source of stress present. There are many different kinds of Anxiety Disorders, including:  

  • General Anxiety Disorder 
  • Social Anxiety Disorder 
  • Separation Anxiety Disorder 
  • Agoraphobia 
  • Panic Disorder 
  • Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder 
  • Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder 

As with any type of Mental Health Disorder, Anxiety Disorders look and feel different for everybody. However, there are a few general symptoms of anxiety, including panic attacks, obsessive thought patterns, difficulty breathing, an increase in heart rate, hot flashes, sweating, headaches, and feelings of shakiness or lightheadedness. 

Understanding Depressive Disorders 

Depressive Disorders are a type of Mood Disorder that revolve around intense and overwhelming feelings of sadness, hopelessness, or numbness. The different types of Depressive Disorders include Major Depressive Disorder, Seasonal Affective Disorder, and Persistent Depressive Disorder. 

It is important to note that Depressive Disorders are about more than feeling sad or hopeless. In addition to affecting your mood and emotions, Depressive Disorders alter the way you think, your eating habits, your sleep routine, your relationships with others, and other aspects of life. Depression can also lead to troubles with memory and concentration, affecting work performance and your ability to remember and complete tasks in daily life. 

Whether you face feelings of extreme sadness or feelings of numbness and emptiness, the effects of Depressive Disorders can sap your energy, motivation, and enjoyment of life. 

Understanding Bipolar Disorders 

After Depression, the most common types of Mood Disorders are Bipolar Disorders. Bipolar Disorders involve extreme shifts in mood and energy levels from emotional lows (depressive episodes) to emotional highs (manic episodes). This cycle of mania and depression is an intense experience that affects mood, behaviors, thought patterns, and energy levels. 

There are different types of Bipolar Disorders. Bipolar I Disorder involves longer depressive and manic episodes that last for a week or more. Individuals with Bipolar I Disorder can also experience depressive and manic symptoms at the same time. The more extreme episodes and symptoms of Bipolar I Disorder can cause psychosis and require hospitalization. 

Bipolar II Disorder involves shorter manic and depressive episodes that last for less than a week—usually only for a day or two. Symptoms of Bipolar II Disorder are intense and can have a significant impact on thoughts, emotions, behaviors, work, and relationships, but they do not usually lead to hospitalization. 

Finally, Cyclothymic Disorder occurs when someone experiences chronic shifts in their mood and emotional state. Adults who have dealt with repeating cycles of manic and depressive episodes for at least two years might have Cyclothymic Disorder. However, this form of Bipolar Disorder is not as intense as Bipolar I or Bipolar II Disorder. Cyclothymic Disorder is also commonly a result of other Mental Health Conditions—particularly Anxiety Disorders or Depressive Disorders.  

The Intersection of Anxiety Disorders and Mood Disorders 

There is a high rate of comorbidity between Anxiety Disorders and Mood Disorders, which means that these conditions often occur together. Every case is unique, so there are countless ways for Anxiety Disorders, Depressive Disorders, and Bipolar Disorders to intersect. Anxiety can develop as a result of experiences with Mood Disorders—or vice versa. Similarly, Depressive Disorders and Bipolar Disorders share many symptoms and can lead to the development of one another.  

Comorbid conditions tend to exacerbate each other, making each other’s symptoms worse and creating a more severe and negative case. Experiencing comorbid Mental Health Disorders also leads to an increased risk of self-harm, suicidal ideation, greater relationship strain alongside lower support from friends and family, and an overall decreased quality of life. 

Shared Risk Factors 

Another link between Anxiety Disorders, Depressive Disorders, and other Mood Disorders is their shared risk factors. Many causes of Mental Health Disorders apply to both Anxiety Disorders and Mood Disorders, including genetics, family history, adverse childhood experiences, and insecure attachment styles.  

Trauma is also a common cause of Anxiety, Depressive, and Bipolar Disorders. Additionally, factors such as extreme levels of stress or chronic physical health issues are known risk factors of both Anxiety Disorders and Depressive Disorders. 

Comorbid Conditions and Mental Health Diagnosis 

Comorbidity creates challenges in diagnosing Mental Health Conditions. When different Mental Health Disorders intertwine, it makes it harder to accurately address and identify individual symptoms.  

For example, symptoms of Depressive Disorders heavily overlap with the depressive episodes of Bipolar Disorders. This overlap creates an extra challenge in determining if your negative thoughts, emotions, and behaviors stem from a Depressive Disorder or a Bipolar Disorder. 

Because of this and other forms of symptom overlap, some aspects of your Mental Health Disorders can go unnoticed for a long time. Meanwhile, comorbid disorders exacerbate each other, making your symptoms and your experience with Anxiety or Mood Disorders worse over time. These factors present additional challenges for patients trying to identify or understand their Mental Health experiences. 

Treating Comorbid Anxiety and Mood Disorders 

Licensed Clinical Psychologists treat comorbid Anxiety Disorders and Mood Disorders by addressing them simultaneously. This is where a flexible, evidence-based therapy plan comes into play. Through scientifically proven therapy models such as Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Licensed Clinical Psychologists can target the unique intersection of Anxiety and Mood Disorders and address all their symptoms at the root. This leads to effective clinical solutions and lasting healing for the patient.  

As an experienced Depression Psychologist in Los Angeles, Dr. Blair understands how to address and treat comorbid Mental Health Disorders. When you need treatment for Bipolar Disorders, Anxiety Disorders, or Depressive Disorders in Irvine, Beverly Hills, Newport Beach, Bel Air, Century City, Brentwood, Westwood, Huntington Beach, Mission Viejo, Aliso Viejo, and the surrounding areas, contact Blair Wellness Group. Talk to our team today to see how our evidence-based treatment plans can help you. 

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