Why Do Depression and Anxiety Go Together?

[♪ INTRO ] If you’ve ever experienced anxiety and depression
— in the clinical sense, I mean — you’ll know that they can feel really different. With anxiety, you’re all ramped up. And with depression, you’re very, very down. Yet they tend to go together. And a lot of medications, especially certain
types of antidepressants, can be used to treat both. We still don’t know a ton about how exactly
anxiety and depression work in the brain — or how antidepressants work to treat them. But over time, psychologists have come to
realize that the two types of conditions are surprisingly similar. They may feel very different in the moment. But they actually have a lot of symptoms in
common, and involve some very similar thought patterns. They might even have similar brain chemistries. So if you’re looking to understand a little
more about how anxiety and depression manifest themselves — whether for yourself or for
someone else in your life — those connections are a good place to start. Depression and anxiety aren’t really specific
disorders — they’re generic terms for types of disorders. But the most common, and most closely linked,
are major depressive disorder, or MDD, and generalized anxiety disorder, or GAD. In any given year in the U.S., where it’s
easiest to find detailed statistics, about 7% of the population will have MDD, and about
3% will have GAD. Lots of those people have both: About 2/3
of people with major depression also have some kind of anxiety disorder, and about 2/3
of people with generalized anxiety disorder also have major depression. And whether you have one or the other or both,
the same medications are often at the top of the list to help treat it — usually antidepressants. Unsurprisingly, psychologists have noticed
these statistics. But for a long time, we’ve thought of generalized
anxiety and major depression as very different things, and understandably so. Probably the most noticeable symptom of anxiety
is arousal, which in psychology is a technical term rather than a specifically sexual thing. It basically just means being on high alert
— whether psychologically, with increased awareness, or physically, with things like
a racing heart and sweaty palms. Arousal isn’t part of major depression,
though. And there’s a key symptom of MDD that doesn’t
usually show up in generalized anxiety: low positive affect, which is the technical term
for not getting much pleasure out of life and feeling lethargic and just kind of … blah. So there are important differences between
anxiety and depression, which is part of why they’re still considered separate classes
of disorders. But when you look at the other symptoms, you
start to realize that major depression and generalized anxiety have almost everything
else in common. There’s restlessness, fatigue, irritability,
problems with concentration, sleep disturbances … the list goes on. And that’s just in the official diagnostic
criteria. So for decades, psychologists have been examining
the models they use to describe anxiety and depression in the brain to see if they point
to a similar source for both types of disorders. They’ve come up with lots of different ideas,
as researchers do, but the most common ones tend to center around the fight or flight
response to stress. Fight or flight kicks in when you’re confronted
with something your mind sees as a threat, and it automatically prepares you to either
fight or run away. And when you think about it, anxiety and depression
are just different types of flight. Psychologists often characterize anxiety as
a sense of helplessness, at its core, and depression as a sense of hopelessness. Anxiety might feel like you’re looking for
ways to fight back. But part of what makes it a disorder is that
it’s not a short-lived feeling that’s easily resolved once you have a plan. Of course, as with all things mental health,
anxiety disorders can be deeply personal and won’t feel the same for everybody. But clinical anxiety does tend to be more
pervasive. The worry sticks around and starts to take
over your life because it doesn’t feel like something you can conquer. So anxiety and depression might just be slightly
different ways of expressing the same flight response: helplessness or hopelessness. And maybe that’s part of why they so often
go together. That connection also shows up on the biochemical
side of the stress response. There are a lot of hormones involved in this
response, and their effects interact in super complex ways that scientists still don’t
fully understand. But both depressive and anxiety disorders
are closely associated with an oversensitive stress response system. Researchers think that’s one reason both
of these types of disorders are so much more common in people who’ve experienced major
stresses like trauma or childhood abuse. Those stressors could make their stress response
system more sensitive. The main hormones involved aren’t always
the same, but the changes can cause some of the same symptoms — problems with sleep,
for example. So anxiety and depression seem to be two sides
of a similar reaction to stress, in terms of both thought processes and hormones. Still, that doesn’t really explain why some
antidepressants can treat both anxiety and depression. Because those medications primarily affect
neurotransmitters, the molecules your brain cells use to send messages to each other. If you thought we had a lot left to learn
about how the stress response works, we know even less about what the brain chemistry of
anxiety and depression looks like, or how antidepressants help. But if the thought processes and physical
responses that go along with these disorders aren’t quite as different as they seem on
the surface, it makes sense that the brain chemistry would be similar, too. And that’s exactly what scientists have
found. More specifically, lots of studies have pointed
to lower levels of the neurotransmitter known as serotonin as a major factor in both anxiety
and depression. Researchers have even identified some more
specific cellular receptors that seem to be involved in both. There’s also some evidence that the way
the brain handles another neurotransmitter, norepinephrine, can be similar in both anxiety
and depression. Since most antidepressants work by increasing
serotonin levels, and some of them also affect norepinephrine, that could explain why they’re
so helpful for both anxiety and depression. Although again, there’s a lot we don’t
know about their exact mechanisms. Ultimately, there’s no denying that in the
moment, anxiety and depression can seem like very different feelings. And if someone has both types of disorders
— well, it’s easy to see how that could feel overwhelming. Like, it’s hard enough treating generalized
anxiety or major depression on their own. And it’s true that it is often harder to
treat these conditions when someone has both. But maybe not twice as hard. After all, anxiety and depressive disorders
have a lot in common, from their symptoms to the basic brain chemistry behind them to
some of the treatments that can help. The fact that they often go together can be
really tough. But understanding more about why that is has
also pointed us toward better treatments and more effective therapies, that really can
help. Thanks for watching this episode of SciShow
Psych. If you’re looking for someone to talk to about
your mental health, we left a few resources in this video’s description. And if you’d like to learn more general info
about treatments, you can watch our episode on misconceptions about antidepressants. [♪ OUTRO ]

About the author


  1. I have GAD. They told me I had it when I was kid. It's cool seeing someone talk about it, no ones ever heard of it before

  2. I often experience both of them at the same time. I get my heart racing, dry mouth, adrenaline kicking in while everything seems bland and meaningless. Existence can be hard.

  3. I literally just asked my therapist this question last week and he said he didn't really have an answer. *shows up in my subscription feed*
    🙌 praise Scishow 🙌

  4. It’s weird to think how many mental disorders clash with each other just take ASD (autism spectrum disorder) and many mental illnesses like,depression,anxiety,schizophrenia,OCD,ADHD and much more

    Could you do a video on that?

  5. Seeing as how it was just NEDA week, maybe you guys could do an episode on eating disorders? I think it could really help spread awareness ❤😊

  6. Those drugs used in psychiatry don't address any of the biological or genetic factors you've mentioned here and they can have very disturbing irreversable adverse effects. Those are the substances that actively interfere healthy working mechanisms of brain and they would ultimately corrupt the entire system in the end.

    All medical researches are on the harmful effects of these substances to physical health. There isn't even one single medical research on their beneficial effects to the physical health. As a rule if something is harmful to your physical health it's twice more harmful to your mental health. No mental patients need any of these substances.

    Mental health problems are serious problems but they aren't medical problems. There're many many holistic and completely harmless methods which are far more effective in solving such problems.

  7. Studies prove the fastest way to true inner happiness is thru selfless social giving. Fear (as from being stressed out) allows us to mentally wall-off our empathy (it's an empathy-killer) which therefore explains the close relationship to the depression that comes as a result.

  8. Filipinos pay attention. Depression and Anxiety disorders are real. People actually suffer from both. Unlike most of Filipino celebrities and politicians think, these disorders are not fake or made up. Also, contrary to popular belief, you can't just go to church, pray and get cured by Jesus.

  9. Be careful about a diagnosis of anx/dep …that was my first diagnosis but as it turns out im more of a bipolar 2 type and antidepressants often fuel mania …which they did …and from my initial visit to current diagnosis took more like 3 years for me

  10. Life itself is so stressful, add on people who want to oppress and discriminate you.
    The response is logical, because being oppressed or discriminated against can mean you would die if you were relying on a tribe in the prehistoric era.

  11. This video was amazing. I along with others in my family suffer from both my wife also suffering from bipolar. She watched this video and said your channel should be put on a major public television channel and shown to the world. Thank you for all your great videos.

  12. There are quite a few hormones involved that we do know about and in some cases it's been nailed down to the tryptophan metabolism being skewed and just simply not producing enough Melatonin and Serotonin. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3680090/
    http://www.espa-research.org.uk/linked/iagandtryptophan.pdf OK this is mainly people with Autism and Asperger's but out of the 7% of people with MDD nearly 20% of them have Asperger's or Autism even though people with Asperger's and Autism comprise just 1.6-2% (depending on who you believe and what confidence level you want) of the general population. There are then also questions regarding oxytocin which have at least some answers. Oxytocin is a hormone used in all sorts of places. EG as well as causing contractions in childbirth, it is part of the bonding cycle that goes with breast feeding, also is part of social memory mediation (along with vasopressin) and most importantly for this purpose has some natural anti-depressant qualities.

  13. 7% of the population is depressed and 3% is anxious, and yet 2/3 of that 7% have anxiety (4.6%), and only 2/3 of the 3% anxious group is depressed (2%)…
    …? The minimum possible number that have anxiety would have to be 4.6%, since two thirds of depressed people are anxious. And that would result in 100% of anxious people also being depressed.
    Either you explained your math wrong or you did the math wrong.

  14. I have depression and anxiety. I used to have manageable anxiety, then I used venlafaxin, an antidepressant, and it gave me severe anxiety… shaking, panic attacks, hyperventilating. If you are trying to get better, having both, please don't take venlafaxin, I know it is different for each person, but those of my friends who used it also experienced worse anxiety symptoms, even after using it for more than 4 months.

  15. I have both and it SUUUCKS. I've been treated for depression since 2013 and over the last year my brain decided that wasn't good enough and threw in GAD for good measure so now i'm back at the counsellor and increased medication and it's all just…boogers. Thank you for this informative video! I love learning how my brain works 😀

  16. The fact that someone cut this video in such a way to make it sound like Brit never breathes in between sentences makes me anxious.

  17. omg, my OCD is bugging me right now watching her. one side of her hair is longer than the other. why does this bother me so much!!?? nothing against her or that hair style, but it's like….uneven….must fix……

  18. Hey do you think you could talk about how sexual abuse works ? I've been reading about Terry Crew and i'm shocked at how many people don't understand than abuse is often more psychological than physical..

  19. Many untruths in this video ….. there is no proof whatsoever that it has anything to do with serotonin or any other neurotransmitter……and for a lot of people the drugs don't work

  20. I'm depressed because I spend all my time at work away from family and friends just to eek out a living, and I'm anxious because at this rate, I don't see a way for this to change until I die, either because I take my own life or just give up and starve, all within a society that does not care about me except in how it can commodify my labor and profit from the fulfillment of my basic needs. I'm depressed and anxious because capitalism is ruining most of our lives. How about you?

  21. Hey everyone! I’m a 19 years old guy from Denmark, dealing with a lot of anxiety. If anybody, who’s fighting with it too, would like to talk about it or other stuff, I’m down for it. I’m open for every kind of people. So drop your IG name, if you’re interested and I’ll try to hit you up.

  22. I’ve got mdd, but one of my meds works for anxiety, insomnia, and epilepsy 😂 It works, but nobody knows why

  23. ECT , lithium, wellbutrin, klonopin, trazodone… I almost don't want to crawl out of my skin, or harm the world.
    The truth is I don't understand how to be like "you"

  24. My depressed mind cannot catch up with the speed they explain things that i needed to pause this and rewind a couple of times… phew…

  25. Do a vid on SAD, since both I and my mum have it, and we find it strange since we are so lively and energetic in the summer, but tired and sad in the winter.

  26. Psychologists seem to know so little about they're doing. But I've found Transactional Analysis to be very helpful in dealing with people.

  27. My sleep is beyond fucked i can't sleep because i overthink everything at night and people are saying just calm down and let the thoughts pass I CAN'T 😔

  28. Depression: hello I'm depression
    Anxiety: hi I'm anxiety, pleased to meet you depression, let's get together and thoroughly screw with CLARYT…..
    Depression: sounds like a plan.. Let's do it!!

  29. Worse is how crippling depression and anxiety are. They destroy lives as thoroughly as any cancer. But no one, even doctors, seem willing to treat or diagnose it. Everyone has the attitude of "suck it up" but you don't tell an amputee to walk it off, and it wont work with depression ether. Parts of your brain are dead or dying. Just because you cant see it doesn't mean they aren't injured.

  30. Going from an emotionless person to a somewhat sensitive person while under the influence of anti depressants after using it for over 2 months. It didn't help with depression, it just made me weaker as a person and I noticed that I spend more time self-loathing and overthinking than I usually do when not using it. I don't recommend anti depressants for lonely people. Especially if you're like most of us with no friends around, single and live alone. I'm following up with my psychiatrist soon and I'll tell him what's up, let's hope it goes better.

  31. Yea having both is just a weird experience, symptoms that you'd think are not possible to be felt at the same time (or at least close to the same time, or switching between symptoms within a day or even hours or minutes) At the moment I have the sick to my stomach feeling like butterflies, shaking, sweaty palms, but I also have this fluff in my head like I get from depression, and the lack of really finding fun or joy in things and the feeling of things being far away or muted. It's like a big short circut in my brain.

  32. i had depression, the medicines they gave me didnt cure me and worst they made me anxiaty, a super strong anxiaty, the pills were way worst than the depression, now thank god i could leave the pills, the withdrawal was horrible, i feel better but i wont take pills anymore ever! do not take mirtazapine, its worst than the disease!

  33. Fed up because things go wrong, then anxious because you expect more of the same. Worse if it's not you causing the problem of if you can't escape or fight. Adding to helplessness. Anxiety tells you you should be doing more and depression says what's the point or steals your energy. Eventually depression and anxiety can become normal and you become comfortable with it. It can be scary to change. This is part of the reason people who have had difficult parent relationships ie violence or drugs… End up with abusive partners. The cycle continues and the victim becomes more engrained , if there are children then the cycle can continue again. That's why abuse runs in families. I now love being single and will stay that way. Learn to love yourself. I'm not gonna be abused or controlled again

  34. I'm constantly lethargic from depression and then I drink energy drinks and have panic attacks. Although even without caffeine I am affected by anxiety.

  35. The only video i need is why am I loosing my memory although I m just 22 and why am I always sad and tired all the time even though I don’t have depression necessarily .

  36. When i look at others it feels like they are born with filters,filters that protect them, filters that people like me are missing

  37. I've been feeling sick and somewhat scared for years so I'm going to the doctor soon to find out if I have anxiety, or a physical illness, or maybe a physical illness AND anxiety or a physical illness which causes anxiety. I'm feeling strangely excited to go to the doctor atm. Aaaaand also nervous of course, as you'd expect from someone who possibly has anxiety or is just a sick person who gets nervous often e.e In either case I'm a nervous wreck

  38. "these types of disorders are so much more common in people who've experienced major stresses like trauma or childhood abuse – those stressors could make their stress response system more sensitive" big oof that's me….

  39. this explains how my disorders all affect each other (ptsd, major dep, gen anxiety, adhd), but also makes me wonder if i have each individual disorder and there's symptom crossover or if i only have ptsd, where the symptoms of that can be interpreted as coming from multiple disorders….rambling but i think this makes sense?

  40. I have anxiety and depression. Ive had experience childhood abuse of many kinds but even as an adult I still deal with abusive ppl etc. negative experiences in the long term just makes the disorders much worse.

  41. I have both and they intertwine like dog tails. I'll start panicking, then burst into full blown tears for hours on end, and I mean lik a banshee cream kinds of storm (Yelling,crying, wailing), and after thats gone the stress leaves and in enters depression for about as long as the banshee fit lasted, if not longer.

    The worst was either the time I gave myself a bloody nose from crying so hard or the time I cried for two hours straight and woke up still feeling like my eyes were puffy and my nose was stuffy from crying. I only got 7 hours that night.

  42. Doesn't seem like a difficult question to me. If you're depressed, things aren't going well. If things aren't gong well, we tend to get anxious. Isn't that kind of obvious?

  43. Anxiety, depression and almost every other mental illness are entirely caused by environmental factors, mostly diet.
    It took me six years of non stop research and testing on myself to cure my depression, and when my anxiety went away I realised that the background fear I always experienced wasn't my personality.
    Gluten, low quality dairy and processed and/or factory farmed animal flesh and unfiltered tap water are some of the major causes.

    A raw, vegan, sugar-free, grain-free, lightly ketogenic diet with intermittent fasting will reverse symptoms as fast as possible, depending on your own personal health, and there are many proven herbs that can alleviate your symptoms while your body heals.

    Rhodiola Rosea for energy and antidepressant qualities, Ashwagandha to heal your fried adrenals, velvet Bean to increase dopamine, Valerian for anti-anxiety, sleep and muscle relaxing, Dandelion for detoxing the body, etc etc.
    I'm no herb expert, I don't need to be there's millions of them, however very few people know how to eat their health properly.
    John Rose is one.

  44. People who does understand how anxiety works will just call you a coward and if you’re depressed they will ask you :”What’s wrong?” Or say :”cheer up!”

  45. I have both anxiety is worse I’m happy for that I worry less about eventually becoming suicidal though anxiety just makes me extremely angry at random times just thinking about my stressors

  46. Anxiety makes you fight. This fight can cost you your marriage, house, friends, and family.

    Then you have no one or anything to fight for. The flight is to disconnect and go into basic survival mode.

    In the end you reach out to family and friends that think you are lazy or don't love them. It's "treatable" I hear a lot.

    I don't know of many people with treatable major health issues that have no will to live survive.

  47. SSRI ruined my life!! Do not try SSRI!! Try adderall instead, it saved my life. I just saved countless lives, your welcome.

  48. anxiety: hAh let’s worry about everything and shut ourselves off because i don’t want everyone to hate me
    depression: everyone hates me and nobody wants me around so it’s for the best for me to shut myself off because everyone already hates me. nobody would even care if i died…
    me: okay ouch

  49. The speaker has made countless references to "medications" that help anxiety and depression. Physicians are in general taught to prescribe antidepressants for both anxiety and depression. I know because I practiced Internal Medicine for 40 years and am now retired. I can say what I have learned but this obviously does not constitute formal advice to any particular person/s.
    1. Antidepressants in the vast majority of people, have awful side effects.
    2. They are brain altering in unknown ways; they can change your personality.
    3. This nonsense about "chemical imbalances" of serotonin and/or nor-epinephrine are just concepts/creations by drug companies which have overwhelmed the field of psychiatry; there is not a shred of evidence proving these "imbalances."
    4. Most psychiatry visits involve dealing with psychiatric drugs. Try this, then this then this and so on. Often a second drug is used to deal with the side effects of the first one. Not better with one drug? No problem stay with it and we'll add a second and third drug. Why was the useless one not stopped? Because then the psychiatrist would have to deal with the withdrawal from that one.
    5. It is a constant trial and error thing with these psychiatric meds.
    6. Antidepressants are extremely addicting and it is proven that it can take more than a year, sometimes a few years, to get off a single antidepressant.
    7. Mild anxiety can be helped by benzodiazepines (Xanax, Valium etc) but the medical profession got burned by people indulging in those drugs (recreational drugs) so much years ago that they are avoided by physicians. People taking even just two doses a day to deal with anxiety, and stable in such a low dosage, even if doing well, are being told that they need to stop and switch to an antidepressant. Which causes ten times the dependence of a low dose benzodiazepine.
    8. Antidepressants can really increase suicidal tendencies. And I suspect, homicidal tendencies. With easy availability of guns, we are in a crisis situation in this regard.
    9. In the past few years, there has been a reckless use of anti-psychotic drugs by psychiatrists on people with anxiety/depression.

    Bottom line is that antidepressants and anti-psychotic drugs are the most dangerous drugs that humanity has ever been exposed to; they don't cure any psychiatric disorders, they just drug people up. Humanity needs to explore mindfulness practice, establish with kind and understanding counselors, involve family, exercise more, learn stress management, cut out sugar and stimulants in their diet, and so on. Lastly, putting children on stimulants for attention deficit disorder ought to be considered criminal activity. The drugging of humanity has now started in childhood.

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