Ask Golden Willow

Addressing anxiety and depression can improve health


Dear Ted: I often hear people say I have depression and yet they seem totally full of anxiety, and then I hear people say they are anxious, and they seem so sad. It seems these two words are thrown around pretty easily, yet I believe they are also true mental health issues that many people suffer from in their lives. Are depression and anxiety related? Thank you, Contemplation During Coffee

Dear Contemplator,

This is a great question and you are correct. These two words are thrown around often and may lose some of the seriousness related to these disorders that can make life difficult to navigate. Often, the relationships between these two types of disorders can be difficult to diagnose.

Sometimes someone may have more than one disorder, which is known as "comorbidity." Another challenge is that mental health issues are not always black and white. It can be difficult to clarify what is happening with the person.

Depression and anxiety are two of the more common mental health issues and seem to be on the rise. They are technically different disorders, but they have a lot in common. It is possible to have both.

Often anxiety will come first, and the impact of anxiety has on your life can lead to depression and depressive tendencies. Anxiety often reveals itself in the form of fear and apprehension. Usually, people have fear or worry about present issues as well as future situations.

Like anxiety, depression has a tendency to be driven by negative thoughts. But depression usually does not have the high levels of fear that anxiety does.

With depression, there is a level of hopelessness and helplessness. In this feeling of futility, suicidal thoughts, loss of energy and lack of emotionality may emerge.

Within the brain, both of these disorders are related to the same neurotransmitters, which affect the way you think and perceive the world around you. They both can also impact your physical health, causing ailments such as stomach problems, headaches, aches and pains, and feeling exhausted or having flu symptoms.

These types of symptoms can lead to deeper physical problems as well. The good news is that both of these disorders are treatable, and studies have shown that people who are open and willing to work with depression or anxiety can find their conditions lessen or are eliminated.

One type of treatment does not wors for everyone. Sometimes people will need support physically from a medical doctor as well as emotional help from a psychotherapist or support from other professionals, such as bodywork, acupuncture, spiritual care, dietary considerations and exercise. Being willing to take action is the first step in allleviating either one of these conditions. These are real issues and seeking professional support as well as other informal supports can help to have a higher quality of life.

Thank you for the question. I wish you well. Until next week, take care.

Golden Willow Retreat is a nonprofit organization focused on emotional healing and recovery from any type of loss. Direct any questions to Ted Wiard, LPCC, CGC, Founder of Golden Willow Retreat at (575) 776-2024 or

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