18 Facts about Anxiety and Depression That Everyone Should Know
Anxiety and depression are common in the general population. They are also an economic burden and cause of disability for many people. The following are 18 facts about anxiety and depression that everyone should know:
- Anxiety and depression often occur together
- Anxiety and depression comprise the most common mental illnesses
- Many people do not get help for depression and anxiety
- Runs in families
- Anxiety disorder is a risk factor for depression
- Affects children
- Snapping out of it is not a solution
- Maladaptive coping worsens the problem
- What works for depression, works for anxiety, and vice versa
- Supplements can be helpful
- Relief requires change of lifestyle
- Both are clinical diagnoses
- Depression and anxiety can affect developmental trajectories
- Both can respond to positive reframing
- Both can manifest as somatic complaints
- Depression and anxiety are massive economic burdens to society
- Both a common cause of disability
Anxiety disorder and major depressive disorder often occur together. Up to 60% of people with depression also have anxiety (Kessler et al., 2003).
Anxiety and depression are the most common mental illnesses. The prevalence of anxiety in the general population is 18% and the prevalence of depression is 7% (Kessler et al., 2005).
Only half of those with depression receive treatment. For anxiety, it is worse, as only 37% of people with anxiety receive treatment (Wang et al., 2005).
Depression and anxiety runs in families (Kendler et al., 1997). So if one has family members with anxiety or depression, then one is at increased risk for developing these disorders.
Anxiety disorder is a significant risk factor for the development of major depressive disorder (Hranov, 2007). So when one has anxiety, depression may soon follow, leading to more problems. That’s why it is important to get help and treatment before the problems worsens and snowballs out of control.
Anxiety and depression are both treatable, but as indicated above, the majority of people with anxiety and depression do not receive treatment. Treatment for anxiety and depression comprises of cognitive behavioral therapy, lifestyle changes, and medication treatment.
Depression and anxiety also affects children and elderly people. Fourteen percent (14%) of young people will have developed depression by the time they turn 18 years old, and 32%…that’s correct, 32%, will have developed anxiety by the time they turn 18 (Merikangas et al., 2010). It’s important to get children and adolescents help to extinguish anxiety and depression before it continues and/or re-occurs into adulthood.
Depression and anxiety are not solved by wishing them away or snapping out of it. People afflicted with these maladies have significant symptoms which affect their functioning and quality of life, and often does not improve until one obtains treatment.
When one has depression and anxiety, one often tries to cope which reduces the symptoms temporarily, but over the long term, these maladaptive coping tends to worsen the problem. When depressed, one may have learned helplessness, where they believe they are damned if they do, and damned if they don’t. So depressed people tend to not put in effort as they feel helpless, which in turn makes their depression worse, as they are not able to accomplish any tasks and their self-esteem worsens. Another maladaptive coping skill is avoidance, where someone may be anxious about social situations, so they avoid. Over the short term, the avoidance decreases the anxiety, but over the long term, their anxiety worsens. Treatment with a competent therapist helps one to shift from maladaptive coping to healthy coping.
For the most part, the treatment for anxiety and depression are similar. Lifestyle and behavioral modifications help both. Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRIs) help for both. Cognitive restructuring and positive reframing help both.
Supplements are helpful for both anxiety and depression. Kava and inositol are examples of supplements helpful for anxiety. St. John’s Wort is a supplement effective for depression. Please see my other articles on supplements for more detailed imformation.
Lifestyle changes are needed for lasting relief from depression and anxiety. Lifestyle changes which help depression and anxiety include quiting drugs of abuse, instituting structure, exercise, good sleep hygiene, and proper diet.
Depression and anxiety, as are all psychiatric disorders, are clinical diagnoses. In other words, clinical diagnoses are diagnosed utilizing the history and patient interview. Clinical diagnoses are not based on objective tests, such as blood tests and brain imaging. Unfortunately, depression and anxiety diagnoses are not aided by objective tests, but this may change in the future, as more research uncovers the neurobiology of these disorders.
When a young person is affected by depression or anxiety, it can delay development, as these disorders are burdens and prevent one from functioning normally. As such, these disorders prevent one from participating in important milestones that help one to become an adult.
Positive reframing is transforming a negative thought into a positive one. For example, when a depressed person thinks their spouse is too critical, a positive reframe would be that their spouse cares enough about them to suggest ways to improve.
Anxiety and depression can both manifest as somatic complaints, such as headaches, stomachaches, chest pain, and nausea.
Anxiety costs the United States $42.3 billion annually (Greenberg et al., 1999), and depression costs the U.S. $83.1 billion annually (Greenberg et al., 2003). With treatments for anxiety and depression being relatively inexpensive compared to the economic losses caused by these illnesses, why aren’t governments and corporations working towards eradicating this, with treatments being effective? The answer is that it is counterintuitive for capitalistic societies to take care of the masses. But any business analyst would agree that treatment is less expensive than no treatment.
Depression is now the second leading cause of global disability burden (Ferrari et al., 2013), and anxiety is the sixth leading cause of disability (Baxter et al., 2014). Again, both of these illnesses are treatable, the treatment costs are relatively inexpensive, and existing primary health care infrastructure can be the setting for treatment worldwide. Stigma continues to plague mental illnesses…why else would reversible, easy-to-treat illnesses make the top ten list of disabling illnesses?
In summary, depression and anxiety are commonly diagnosed together. Both are easy to treat, relatively inexpensive to treat, and existing primary health infrastructure can be utilized in deploying this treatment. Unfortunately, anxiety and depression are leading causes of disability worldwide, and the economic burden to society is massive. Stigma continues to be a barrier for those with mental illnesses.