Anxiety and depression are types of mood disorders. Even though the two conditions are different, it is common for someone with an anxiety disorder to also suffer from depression or vice versa. Anxiety refers to the anticipation of a future concern and is associated with muscle tension and nervousness, whereas Depression can cause persistent feelings of sadness, hopelessness, and reduced energy. In March of 2022, the World Health Organization (WHO) released a scientific brief that claimed that the prevalence of anxiety and depression increased by 25% worldwide during the first year of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Anxiety & Depression Association of America (ADAA) states that anxiety disorders are the most common mental illness in the United States, affecting 40 million adults each year. Anxiety disorders can be treatable and there are numerous effective treatments available.
There are several types of anxiety disorders including generalized anxiety disorder, panic disorder, specific phobias, agoraphobia, social anxiety disorder, and separation anxiety disorder.
Mental symptoms of anxiety may include:
- Racing thoughts
- Uncontrollable over-thinking
- Difficulty concentrating
- Feeling irritable
- Problems with sleep
- Changes in appetite
Some ways to manage anxiety disorders are psychotherapy and medications. Cognitive behavior therapy can help a person learn a different way of thinking, reacting, and behaving to help them feel less anxious. Keep in mind that medications will not cure anxiety but can provide significant relief from symptoms.
The most used medications to treat anxiety disorders are:
- Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRI) such as Celexa, Lexapro, Prozac, Zoloft, and Paxil.
- Serotonin-norepinephrine inhibitors (SNRI) such as Effexor XR and Cymbalta.
Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) affects 6.8 million adults in the United States and is a common and serious medical illness that negatively affects the way you feel, think, and act. Women are more likely than men to experience depression.
Depression symptoms can vary from mild to severe and may include:
- Feelings of sadness, hopelessness, or anxiousness.
- Loss of interest or pleasure in activities once enjoyed.
- Change in appetite.
- Weight loss and/or weight gain.
- Sleeping too little or too much.
- Feeling worthless or guilty.
- Thoughts of death or suicide.
According to the American Psychological Association (APA), depression is among the most treatable mental disorders. Medications and psychotherapy are effective for most people with depression — around 80%-90% of people respond well to treatment. Antidepressants are medicines that treat the symptoms of depression.
Many types of antidepressants are available such as:
- SSRIs: These are the most common class of medications prescribed to treat GAD because they are safer and cause fewer side effects than other types of antidepressants. SSRIs include Celexa, Lexapro, Prozac, Paxil, Zoloft, and Viibryd.
- SNRIs: Cymbalta, Effexor XR, Pristiq, and Fetzima.
- Atypical antidepressants: Wellbutrin XL, Remeron, and Trintellix.
- Tricyclic antidepressants: Tofranil, Pamelor, Surmontil, and Norpramin.
- Monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs): Parnate, Nardil, and Marplan. Note that this class of medications is prescribed when other drugs have not worked because of the associated side effects profile. Using MAOIs requires a strict diet because of dangerous interactions with certain foods such as some types of cheese, pickles, and wines.
It is important to not stop taking antidepressants without talking to your doctor first. Even though these medications are not considered addictive, sometimes people can develop physical dependence. Abrupt discontinuation can cause withdrawal-like symptoms and may cause a sudden worsening of depression.
As part of our mission for better care, Abarca goes all in to raise awareness about mental health and encourage well-informed treatment options that can help better the quality of life of our communities.
If you are suffering from anxiety or depression it is nothing to feel ashamed of and you are not alone. Reach out and find the support and resources you need at one of the links below, or speak with a professional or loved one:
*This blog post was written by Wilmaris Guzmán Pibernus, Rotation PharmD. Student at Abarca Health.
- “Covid-19 pandemic triggers 25% increase in prevalence of anxiety and depression worldwide.” World Health Organization. https://www.who.int/news/item/02-03-2022-covid-19-pandemic-triggers-25-increase-in-prevalence-of-anxiety-and-depression-worldwide. [Accessed April 21, 2022]
- Muskin PR. “What Are Anxiety Disorders?” Psychiatry.org. Published 2021. https://www.psychiatry.org/Patients-Families/Anxiety-Disorders/What-are-Anxiety-Disorders [Accessed April 21, 2022]
- “Depression Treatments for Adults.” APA.org. Published 2019. https://www.apa.org/depression-guideline/adults [Accessed April 28, 2022]