September 29, 2014

When Anxiety and Depression Collide: Treatment Options

Written by Rachel Eddins

Posted in Anxiety and with tags: Anxiety, depression, therapy

woman in treatment for cooccurring anxiety and depression

Although anxiety and depression represent two distinct disorders, they often occur together and they can often be treated similarly. To help manage and reduce the symptoms of both anxiety and depression, a treatment plan should be developed with the individual in mind.

It makes sense to first treat the one that’s causing the most suffering. However, oftentimes it’s hard to determine which is worse, the anxiety or the depression. So, it’s not uncommon to treat both at the same time.


People combating anxiety and depression are often encouraged to use a blend of cognitive and behavioral therapies. Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) is a therapy based on fundamental behavioral and cognitive principles.

CBT is used to successfully replace maladaptive thinking (unrealistic, negative thought patterns) with more adaptive thinking (realistic, more positive patterns of thought). How?

By seeking to change a person’s habitual way of thinking and reacting to certain events, emotions, or other stimuli resulting in a stress response. CBT is focused on identifying triggers and taking action to avoid them or to improve a person’s response to these triggers.


Sufferers of anxiety and depression often battle both of them at the same time. People who suffer severe symptoms may benefit from combining psychotherapy and medication treatments.

Some medications, such as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) and serotonin norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs), offer relief from both disorders. SSRIs include: Zoloft, Prozac, Lexapro, Paxil, and Celexa; SNRIs include: Cymbalta, Pristiq, and Effexor.

If these are not effective, other medications are available.

Cyclic antidepressants are among the earliest available, released in the 1970s. Tricyclic and tetracyclic antidepressants are known to cause side effects like sudden changes in blood pressure (causing lightheadedness or dizziness), dry mouth, drowsiness, and weight gain.

Generally, antidepressants with fewer or less severe side effects have replaced cyclic antidepressants.

Tetracyclics get their name from their chemical structure consisting of four rings of atoms. For example, Amoxapine or Loxapine. The chemical structure of tricyclics consist of three rings of atoms. Examples include: Elavil, Imipramine, and Pamelor.

Dopaminergic drugs modify the function of the neurotransmitter dopamine. These are norepinephrine and dopamine reuptake inhibitors (NDRIs). Wellbutrin is an example of a dopaminergic drug.

Monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs) involve an enzyme known as monoamine oxidase. MAOIs modify brain chemistry by removing serotonin, norepinephrine, and dopamine. Nardil, and Parnate are examples of MAOIs.

Small Victories

Set a few small, simple goals for each day and focus on achieving them. Make a list of things that you’d like to get done. Do the dishes, clean the house, or mow the lawn.

Or, make it a point to do things that you know give you a boost: watch a cute cat video, enjoy a cup of tea, or spend some time outdoors. Have you ever been bird watching?


Stay Connected

Maybe you’ve noticed that you’re alone a lot. Make a deliberate effort to connect with others. Call a friend and set a time to get together and play a game or watch a movie.


Other Options

A combination of the above treatments can be effective in managing depression and anxiety. Additionally, other steps can be taken that offer beneficial results.

Join a support group. Conversing with others familiar with anxiety and depression can reduce the feeling that you’re alone in your struggle.

Find a therapist who specializes in treating anxiety and depression. A good therapist understands your situation and may offer useful counsel and self-help techniques.

Engage in conscious relaxation. Don’t just sit and relax, but try breathing exercises, meditation, aromatherapy, or listening to soothing music with the intention of relaxing your mind and body.

Elicit the help of family and friends. Explain what triggers your anxiety and depression, explaining also how they can help avoid presenting those triggers or how they can help alleviate the stress these triggers cause.

Next Steps

If you or someone you know dealing with anxiety and depression. Contact one of our Counselors. Our therapists in Houston can help you or your loved one recover.

To get started now give us a call to schedule an appointment at 832-559-2622 or schedule an appointment online. We look forward to help you!

Blog Categories