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What Causes Depression and Anxiety?

What causes depression and anxiety? It is important to understand the link between the two mental illnesses in order to establish treatment options.

Anxiety and Depression

Anxiety and depression are both types of mood disorders. Depression causes agitation, restlessness, sadness, hopelessness, and reduced energy, while anxiety creates feelings of nervousness, worry, or fear. Although the two conditions are different, you can have both simultaneously. 

There are many relevant factors that can contribute to a person’s diagnosis of either anxiety or depression, as both mental illnesses have a variety of risk factors. It is important to note, however, that the two mental health conditions are on the rise. The Center for Disease Control reported that, By February 2021, the percentage increment of adults with anxiety or depressive disorder raised significantly from 36.4% to 41.5%. It is important that we consider the root of these issues in order to establish proper treatment opportunities for anyone effected.1 

The causes of depression and anxiety are relatively unknown. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) predicts the disorders are a combination of genetic, biological, environmental, and psychological factors.2

What Causes Depression and Anxiety

What Causes Depression and Anxiety

The Connection Between Depression and Anxiety

It's normal to experience anxiety or depression from time to time, to a certain extent. When these feelings have not diminished with time, making it almost impossible to perform your daily activities, there is cause for concern, and you should approach your doctor for a consultation. You might be suffering from an anxiety disorder or depression.

You can suffer from both mood disorders simultaneously due to their emotional nature and ability to make you unable to function correctly.

What Is Depression?

Depression is a mood disorder that affects how you feel and act. When you're depressed, you may have symptoms including; Sadness, hopelessness, and anxiousness; you may experience a loss of interest in things you enjoyed doing before, lack of energy, a loss or increase in appetite, insomnia or sleeping too much, lack of concentration, among others.

For medical personnel to diagnose you with depression, you must have experienced at least 5 of the mentioned symptoms and have experienced all five every day for two weeks.

What Is Anxiety?

Anxiety is a normal feeling of worry and fear. Anxiety becomes a disorder when it is excessive, takes long to disappear, or is combined with other symptoms such as; Overwhelming worry, feelings of crankiness or on edge, sweating or shaking, and being out of control. Different types of anxiety disorders such as Generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), Panic disorder, Phobias and Separation anxiety - which all consist of different symptoms specific to them.

Is Depression Genetic?

Clinical depression or major depressive disorder, besides being the most common type of depression and is more likely to be shared by siblings and children. Doctors at Stanford3 showed that if your parent or sibling has depression, you are 2 to 3 times more likely to suffer from depression, unlike the general public.

What Are the Main Causes of Depression and Anxiety?

There are many life factors that could trigger depression or anxiety in an individual. The main causes of depression and anxiety are detailed below. 

Brain Chemistry

Severe or long-lasting stress can change the chemical balance that controls your mood. Experiencing a lot of stress over a long period can lead to an anxiety disorder.


What causes depression and anxiety may genetically put you at a higher risk if one or both of your parents or a sibling has depression or anxiety.

Life Events

Experiencing a trauma might trigger an anxiety disorder, especially in people predisposed to anxiety or those with a tumultuous background. Some adults suffer from depression and anxiety due to events early in their lives, e.g., defilement, child abuse, and neglect. Others find it hard to cope after losing a loved one through death, cases of domestic violence, etc.

The prevalence of major depressive episodes was higher among adult females (10.5%) compared to males (6.2%).

Medical Conditions

Medical conditions and some types of medicine can cause depression and anxiety due to the medicine’s components and the disease in case you have something like a thyroid disorder.


If you are taking certain medications, talk to your doctor if you have questions about whether your medications might be making you feel depressed.


People high in neuroticism–a condition where you are extremely emotionally sensitive–and introverts are two personality types more likely to experience negative thoughts.

What Are the Symptoms of Depression and Anxiety?

The different symptoms of depression and anxiety may help your doctor diagnose the disorder you are suffering from, even though you can suffer from both depression and anxiety simultaneously. 

Symptoms of a Depressive Disorder

The following symptoms depict a depressive disorder:4

  • Feeling very sad, hopeless, or worried
  • Not enjoying things that used to give you joy
  • Being easily irritated or frustrated
  • Eating too much or too little
  • Changes in how much you sleep
  • Suicidal thoughts or suicide attempts
  • Having a difficult time concentrating on things
  • Insomnia, early-morning wakefulness, or sleeping too much

Symptoms of an Anxiety Disorder

The following symptoms depict a type of anxiety disorder:

  • Being overwhelmed by worry
  • Cranky or on edge
  • Sweaty or shaky
  • A sense that you have limited or no control over your thoughts, feelings or behaviors

Diagnosing Depression

An estimated 21.0 million adults in the United States had at least one major depressive episode. This number represented 8.4% of all U.S. adults. 

How Is Depression Syndrome Diagnosed?

After all physical conditions have proven not to cause the symptoms you are experiencing, it can be concluded that your feelings are likely caused by a mental disorder. A psychiatrist or psychologist will use the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual on mental Disorders (DSM-5) using specially designed interview and assessment tools to determine if you are suffering from depression. 

The diagnosis is based on reported symptoms, how long the symptoms have lasted in total and daily, how the symptoms affect your activities, and their observations on attitude and behavior.

Can Depression Be Prevented?

More than 30 randomly carried out trials have confirmed that preventive interventions can lessen the incidence of new episodes of major depressive disorder by about 25% and by as much as 50% with preventive measures taken in a stepped-care format.5

The stepped-care format involves 7 Methods that have proven to be effective: educating the public about chronic consequences of depression, educating the public about severe consequences of depression, psychotherapeutic, pharmacological, lifestyle change, coping mechanisms, and nutritional interventions.

How Is Anxiety Diagnosed?

Getting the correct diagnosis of Generalized Anxiety Disorder and Panic Disorder (PD) requires a broad disparity and attention to identify confusing variables. Screening and monitoring tools can help make the diagnosis. A physical exam, observations, and interviews are used in addition to these tools.

Can Anxiety Be Prevented?

Anxiety disorder cannot be prevented, but you can take precautions against things that could potentially activate the disorder. This is often an important step in the recovery process, and is aided by the therapeutic process. By understanding and adjusting how one responds to major stressors and potentially activating events, you or your loved one can regain a sense of control over your lives, rather than letting anxiety exercise autonomy over you. These things include:

  • Understanding how certain medications can contribute-to or worsen symptoms
  • Reducing intake of caffeine products, e.g., tea, coffee, cola, and chocolate
  • Seek support when you experience a traumatic event
  • Exercise and eat a well balanced diet; physical health improves mental wellness

How Is Genetics Linked to The Risk of Depression?

Depression has no clear pattern of inheritance where we can say these particular genes or set of genes caused your depression. However, if you are related to a person suffering from depression, you are 2 or 3 times more likely to suffer from the same diagnosis, unlike a person with no such relative. If you feel you are predisposed to depressive tendencies, it is important to maintain habitual mental wellness practices and actively pursue healthy lifestyle choices.6

Does Depression Often Occur with Grief?

When you have healthy coping skills, you can grieve and still lead a relatively normal life. This is not the case for others. If you don't have the correct coping skills, including a support mechanism that helps you through the grieving process, you could easily fall into depression or anxiety disorder. Traumatic and life-altering experiences, such as the loss of a loved one or job, can often lead into a spiral of depressive tendencies unless the person grieving actively seeks treatment opportunities.

Treatment Options

What Causes Depression and Anxiety

The treatment options for depression and anxiety include medication-assisted treatment, Therapy, and support groups.

Therapies For Anxiety

Psychotherapy, or counseling, helps you deal with your emotional response to anxiety. A mental health provider discusses with you the strategies to help you better understand and manage the disorder. Approaches include Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT)- which enlightens you on recognizing destructive thought patterns and how to correct them, while exposure therapy deals with the fears behind the anxiety disorder.

Therapies For Depression

Psychotherapy for depression includes different types of therapy, including Cognitive therapy, behavioral therapy, cognitive-behavioral therapy, interpersonal therapy, dialectical behavior therapy, and psychodynamic therapy. 

Medication-Assisted Treatment

Taking medications together with therapy for depression and anxiety comes in handy because you treat both the disorders' physical and mental aspects. Antidepressants, benzodiazepines, and selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors are some of the medicines that help by reducing the number of occurrences and speeding up recovery.

Support Groups

These networks come a long way in ensuring that you adhere to your treatment, talk about your problems, and move forward step by step. The support group gives you a sense of belonging and exposure to overcome depressive disorders.

Anew Treatment Center

You don’t have to live with mental disabilities that are treatable and manageable. Seek help immediately and start your journey towards recovery now. All the support you need is within reach; at Anew Treatment Center, we pride ourselves on helping you establish overall mental health and wellness, and reuniting you with a life free of depression and anxiety. We look forward to working with you.

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