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Depression and Anxiety: Can I Have Both?

Vicky Davis, FNP

Reviewed by Vicky Davis, FNP

Written by Nicholas Gibson

Updated 02/09/2023

Depression and anxiety are two of the most common mental health conditions. In fact, research shows that an estimated 21 million US-based adults, or 8.4 percent of the adult population, had at least one major depressive episode in the past 12 months.

Anxiety disorders are even more common. According to figures collected as part of the National Comorbidity Study Replication (NCS-R), an estimated 19.1 percent of US adults are affected by an anxiety disorder on an annual basis.

Not only are depression and anxiety both alarmingly common mental disorders — they can often occur at the same time.

In fact, according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, some research suggests that about 60 percent of people also have symptoms of depression, or vice-versa.

In other words, if you suffer from depression, there’s a real risk that you may also have anxiety symptoms that can affect your moods, thoughts, decisions and well-being.

The good news is that both depression and anxiety are treatable conditions, often with similar medications and forms of therapy.

Below, we’ve discussed what depressive disorders and anxiety disorders are, as well as how many of these conditions share similar symptoms. We’ve also explained how common it is to suffer from depression symptoms and the symptoms of anxiety at the same time. 

Finally, we’ve explained the treatment options for both of these common conditions, including medications, forms of behavioral therapy and lifestyle changes that you can make to get more control over your symptoms and improve your quality of life.

What is Major Depression?

Major depressive disorder, or clinical depression, is a mood disorder that can have a serious impact on the way you think, feel and behave. It can affect almost every aspect of your daily life, from your moods to your ability to sleep, socialize and maintain relationships.

It’s normal to feel sad, especially after a difficult or stressful event. However, depression goes far beyond situational feelings of sadness. Instead of just feeling sad, people with depression have severe symptoms that often continue for weeks, months or years at a time. 

Common depressive symptoms include:

  • A sad, anxious and pessimistic mood that can feel “empty

  • Feelings that life is hopeless, negative and incapable of getting better

  • The perception that you’re worthless, guilty or incapable of being helped

  • Fatigue, weakness and slower-than-normal physical activity

  • Feeling less interested in your usual activities and hobbies

  • Difficulty remembering things or concentrating on tasks

  • Cramps, aches, pains, headaches and digestive problems

  • Sleep issues, such as insomnia or oversleeping

  • Suicidal ideation and/or attempts at suicide

There are numerous different types of depression, including depression that can develop after pregnancy

Depression isn’t a choice, and these symptoms can often have a serious impact on your ability to function. Our guide to the signs of depression in women goes into more detail about the way these symptoms may affect you if you have a form of depressive illness. 

What is Anxiety?

Anxiety is a feeling of concern or unease, usually about a certain event that could occur at some point in the future.

Just like it’s normal to feel sad even if you’re not depressed, it’s normal to occasionally deal with feelings of anxiety. However, people with anxiety disorders have anxiety symptoms that don’t go away when they should, are excessively severe and/or interfere with daily life.

There are several different types of anxiety disorders, each with unique symptoms:

  • Generalized anxiety disorder (GAD). This disorder often involves long-lasting feelings of anxiety that occur on a daily basis and interfere with your life. You might feel on edge, easily fatigued, irritable, or find it difficult to focus or control your feelings of worry.

  • Social anxiety disorder. Also referred to as social phobia, this anxiety disorder involves feelings of anxiety in social situations. You may sweat, tremble, develop a fast heart rate, or feel uncomfortable or self-conscious when you’re around other people.

  • Panic disorder (PD). This disorder involves panic attacks — sudden, severe feelings of physical and mental anxiety. During a panic attack, you may feel intense fear, develop a racing heartbeat, have chest pains or feel like you’re losing control of yourself.

  • Specific phobias. Some people with anxiety disorders only experience symptoms when they’re around specific items, people or in certain situations, such as flying or being near a specific animal. These anxiety disorders are referred to as specific phobias.

Like depression, anxiety can have a significant impact on your daily life. If you have an anxiety disorder, you may find that you avoid certain settings or events, worry often about the future or prioritize social isolation instead of interacting with other people.

Our guide to the symptoms of anxiety in women goes into more detail about common signs that might indicate you have an anxiety disorder. 

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It’s Common to Have Depression and Anxiety Together

Although depression and anxiety are distinct disorders, they often occur at the same time and share many common symptoms.

For example, feelings of irritability, restlessness and frustration are common symptoms of both major depressive disorder and generalized anxiety disorder.

Both mental health disorders can also cause or contribute to physical symptoms, such as sleep difficulties, feeling of fatigue and even physical aches, pains, cramps and unexplained digestive problems.

Because of these similarities, experts in mental health have spent a significant amount of time and research effort looking into the link between depression and anxiety. 

Simply put, it’s common to suffer from clinical depression and a form of anxiety disorder at the same time. People affected by depression often have anxiety disorders, while people affected by anxiety disorders often display significant symptoms of depression.

In general, experts estimate that between 60 and 90 percent of people affected by one form of mental illness also display significant symptoms of the other.

According to a scientific review published in the journal Depression and Anxiety, approximately 85 percent of people with depression also have significant anxiety symptoms, while 90 percent of people with anxiety disorders have comorbid depression.

In short, you can have depression and anxiety at the same time — in fact, having both of these conditions is common. If you’re depressed and also notice symptoms of anxiety, or vice-versa, you aren’t abnormal, nor is your condition something that experts haven’t seen before.

How to Treat Depression and Anxiety

Both depression and anxiety are treatable. In fact, depression and anxiety disorders often both improve with the same methods of treatment, from medications such as antidepressants to talk therapy, or psychotherapy.

If you think you may suffer from depression, anxiety or both conditions, it’s important to connect with a mental health professional.

You can do this by asking your primary care provider for a mental health referral, or by talking to a provider from your home using our online psychiatry service. 

Medications

If your healthcare provider diagnoses you with depression, anxiety or both conditions, they may prescribe medication to help you treat your symptoms and deal with your anxious or depressed moods. 

In many cases, this may mean using an antidepressant. This type of medication increases your levels of certain naturally-occurring chemicals called neurotransmitters, which help to moderate your moods, feelings and behaviors.

The most common antidepressants for depression and anxiety are selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, or SSRIs.

Antidepressants work well for most people with depression and/or anxiety, but their effects can take time. You may need to take your medication for several weeks before you begin to notice improvements in your sleep patterns, eating habits, moods and other symptoms.

In some cases, your healthcare provider may recommend other types of medication to control your anxiety symptoms, such as beta-blockers. These medications help to control the physical symptoms of anxiety, such as shaking, that can occur in stressful situations.

Our guide to anxiety medications goes into more detail about the types of medication you may need to use to control your symptoms if you have anxiety with depression. 

Therapy and Psychological Techniques

Depression and anxiety both often get better with psychotherapy. This type of therapy involves working with a mental health provider to learn new strategies for identifying and changing your thought patterns, habits and behaviors that contribute to feelings of anxiety or depression.

Like medication, therapy works, but it’s not an on/off switch for anxiety and depression that can produce lasting improvements after a single session. You may need to work with your provider for several weeks, months or longer to make progress and improve your daily life. 

However, over the long term, therapy can be a valuable tool for the lasting treatment of depression and anxiety. 

We offer therapy online as part of our range of mental health services, allowing you to connect with a licensed therapist from home and take part in talk therapy whenever you need it. 

Healthy Habits and Lifestyle Changes

Both depression and anxiety can improve with changes to your habits and daily life. Simple but meaningful changes such as getting at least 30 minutes of physical activity per day, consuming less alcohol and eating a balanced diet can often make a surprisingly big difference. 

Other habits that may improve depression and anxiety symptoms include:

  • Spending time with your friends and family members

  • Letting people close to you know how you’re currently feeling

  • Using relaxation techniques to deal with symptoms when they occur

  • Maintaining a regular daily schedule, including a consistent bedtime

  • Avoiding substances that can worsen anxiety, such as caffeine or nicotine

  • Taking part in a local support group or anonymous online support group

Most of all, it’s important to take good care of yourself while you focus on getting better. Our list of self-care tips for women shares techniques that you can use to relax, reduce stress, improve your well-being and keep yourself in the right mental and physical state for recovery. 

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The Bottom Line on Depression and Anxiety

It’s far from uncommon to experience depression and anxiety at the same time. In fact, research suggests that most people with clinical depression also have at least some symptoms of anxiety, while the majority of people with anxiety disorders have comorbid depression.

If you’re feeling both depressed and anxious, you’re not alone. Millions of other people deal with the same mental health issues every year, and the vast majority succeed in overcoming them by reaching out, getting help and taking part in treatment. 

If you’d like to get help for depression, anxiety or both conditions, you can do so by participating in an online mental health consultation using our telehealth platform.

You can also get help locally by asking your primary care provider for a mental health referral or scheduling an appointment with a psychiatrist

Depression and anxiety are serious conditions, but they’re treatable. With the right combination of therapy, medication and/or changes to your habits, you can overcome both issues and live a happy, fulfilling life that’s free of debilitating symptoms.

Interested in learning more before you take action? Our guide to dealing with depression covers how you can seek help for this common issue, while our full guide to anxiety disorder treatments goes into more detail about medications and natural options for dealing with anxiety. 

6 Sources

Hims & Hers has strict sourcing guidelines to ensure our content is accurate and current. We rely on peer-reviewed studies, academic research institutions, and medical associations. We strive to use primary sources and refrain from using tertiary references.

  1. Major Depression. (2022, January). Retrieved from https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/statistics/major-depression
  2. Any Anxiety Disorder. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/statistics/any-anxiety-disorder
  3. Salcedo, B. (2018, January 19). The Comorbidity of Anxiety and Depression. Retrieved from https://www.nami.org/blogs/nami-blog/january-2018/the-comorbidity-of-anxiety-and-depression
  4. Depression. (2022, September). Retrieved from https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/depression
  5. Anxiety Disorders. (2022, April). Retrieved from https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/anxiety-disorders
  6. Gorman, J.M. (1996). Comorbid depression and anxiety spectrum disorders. Depression and Anxiety. 4 (4), 160-168. Retrieved from https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/9166648/

This article is for informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. The information contained herein is not a substitute for and should never be relied upon for professional medical advice. Always talk to your doctor about the risks and benefits of any treatment. Learn more about our editorial standards here.

Vicky Davis, FNP

Dr. Vicky Davis is a board-certified Family Nurse Practitioner with over 20 years of experience in clinical practice, leadership and education. 

Dr. Davis' expertise include direct patient care and many years working in clinical research to bring evidence-based care to patients and their families. 

She is a Florida native who obtained her master’s degree from the University of Florida and completed her Doctor of Nursing Practice in 2020 from Chamberlain College of Nursing

She is also an active member of the American Academy of Nurse Practitioners.

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