By Dr. David Woo - May 5, 2022
Anxiety and depression are two of the most common mental health illnesses in the US and they can oftentimes co-occur. Nearly one-half of people who are diagnosed with depression are also diagnosed with an anxiety disorder.(1) When someone has been diagnosed with depression and also experiences symptoms of anxiety, referred to as comorbid anxiety, they are considered to have anxious depression.
Getting treatment for anxious depression is important because people with anxious depression are more likely to experience severe depression symptoms compared to individuals with non-anxious depression. Transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) is now FDA-approved to treat symptoms of anxious depression.
What Are The Symptoms of Anxious Depression?
People with anxious depression tend to experience symptoms of anxiety in addition to the symptoms traditionally associated with depression.
Common symptoms of depression include:
- Persistent and debilitating sadness
- Feelings of guilt or feeling “unworthy”
- Feeling hopeless
- Anger, irritability, and/or frustration
- Loss of interest in activities and interests
- Changes in sleep patterns, such as oversleeping or insomnia
- Mental and physical fatigue
- Noticeable decrease in sex drive
- Morbid and/or suicidal thoughts
While anxiety and depression share many symptoms, certain symptoms are unique to anxiety. Patients afflicted with anxious depression may also experience symptoms more commonly associated with anxiety, such as:
- Excessive worrying about the future
- Ruminating (thinking about a problem over and over)
- Panic and paranoia
- Sense of perceived threat that leads to thoughts of death
Treatment Options for Anxious Depression
Treatment options for anxious depression are similar to those available for non-anxious depression and anxiety disorders.
Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS) for Anxious Depression
TMS is a non-invasive, medication-free treatment that may help to relieve comorbid anxiety symptoms in patients with depression.(2) TMS works to regulate activity in regions of the brain associated with depression and anxiety by using magnetic pulses. Learn more about how TMS works, here.
Medication for Anxious Depression
Prescription medication has been proven to be effective in relieving symptoms of both depression and anxiety.(3) Medication options may be long-term or short-term, and medication treatment is often combined with psychotherapy to elevate the benefits of treatment. Antidepressants are generally considered the first-line long-term medication treatment for both anxiety and depression. However, there are situations where anxiety needs to be managed on a short-term basis with anti-anxiety medication, typically from the class of drugs called benzodiazepines.
Psychotherapy (Talk Therapy) for Anxious Depression
Symptoms of depression and anxiety are often responsive to talk therapy methods such as cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) and interpersonal therapy (IPT).(1,4) Through these practices, a patient can learn to identify certain behaviors and thoughts that can contribute to symptoms of depression and anxiety. They’ll also learn ways to change these negative thoughts and behavioral cycles into something more realistic and positive to help reduce symptoms.
Talk to Your Doctor About Whether TMS Is Right for You
If you are experiencing symptoms of anxious depression, seek help from a mental health professional. Your doctor can help you get the care you need to help you find relief from your symptoms. Your doctor can also help you understand whether TMS is an appropriate treatment option for you.
To make an appointment with a licensed healthcare professional at Madison Avenue TMS & Psychiatry, contact us online or call (212) 731-2033.
1. Understanding Anxiety: Facts & Statistics. Anxiety & Depression Association of America. Publication Date Unknown. Updated September 19, 2021. https://adaa.org/understanding-anxiety/facts-statistics. Accessed April 15, 2022.
2. Anxious Depression Treatment. https://www.brainsway.com/treatments/anxious-depression/#about-anxious-depression. Accessed April 15, 2022.
3. Understanding Anxiety & Depression: Medication Options. Anxiety & Depression Association of America. Updated February 17, 2022. https://adaa.org/find-help/treatment-help/medication-options. Accessed April 5, 2022.
4. Understanding Anxiety & Depression: Treatment. Anxiety & Depression Association of America. Updated September 21, 2021. https://adaa.org/understanding-anxiety/depression/treatment. Accessed April 5, 2022.