Anxiety and Depression go hand in hand, but the relationship between them though can be hard to understand. For some people, anxiety is the main problem and they become “depressed” as a result of the effect anxiety has on their life. Although unpleasant, this may be real clinical depression or a case of low mood, after all, if anxiety is messing up your life then it is appropriate and understandable to become upset about it.
Some people have clinical depression, which we can describe as having a persistent low mood with no identifiable reason (sometimes called melancholic depression), and others have atypical depression where mood can be effected by events and circumstances. Often, people with these kinds of major depression also feel anxiety.
It is not surprising that there is a link, after all the chemical causes of both anxiety and depression are somewhat similar. Both anxious and depressed peoples tend to have low levels of various neurotransmitters in the brain. They key neurotransmitter effecting both anxiety and depression is serotonin and many medications and supplements that are suitable for depression also effect anxiety and vice versa.
For instance, 5-HTP is a popular anti-depressant supplement but is also touted as a possible anxiety solution (and also an aid to insomnia and various other mood disorders).
The drug Xanax (alprazolam) is an anxiolytic (anti-anxiety drug) but its users that are also depressed often report a brief alleviation of depression symptoms. Interesting as Xanax works on GABA receptors which are not known as being directly related to depression. (I mentioned this here just out of interest, Xanax is not a suitable anti-depressant in most cases as it is highly habit-forming when taken over a long period of time.)
Mindfulness Meditation is one of the best solutions for anxiety and depression. The technique, which requires persistence, is easy to learn. I great start is the book The Mindful Way through Depression: Freeing Yourself from Chronic Unhappiness (USA), available also in the UK and Europe here. It comes with a CD with some mindfulness meditations on it and is written by Jon Kabat-Zinn, respected expert on using meditation to recover from anxiety, depression and stress related disorders.
Of course the classic anti-depressants, the SSRI’s like Prozac and Celexa, are often prescribed to people with anxiety and panic disorder, and with reasonably good results.
So the good news is that if you are suffering from both anxiety and depression the likely have the same cause and therefore the same solution.