I am not suggesting that there is a cure for mental illness. Or that there is a final answer on overcoming anxiety and dealing with depression.
But, if you have the right resources, they can take you a hell of a long way.
I am not a mental healthcare professional but I am an individual who has struggled with anxiety and depression for most of my life. I also love to research! So, I have brought together the best information from the most reputable and professional sources in this mental health resource guide.
*DISCLAIMER: I am not a mental health-care professional and you should not use the information in this article in place of professional medical advice or treatment. I share my experiences with mental illness challenges to inspire others and be a source of hope in an otherwise dark and unrelenting struggle.
Did you know that women are twice as likely as men to be diagnosed with depression or anxiety?
According to The National Institute of Mental Health, 18.1% of the adult US population suffers from an anxiety disorder. Women make up 60% of that population. In 2015, 16.1 million adults experienced a major depressive episode, also according to the NIMH. Half of those diagnosed with depression are also diagnosed with an anxiety disorder.
Lucky us!!!! I have dealt with Depression for 20 years now, and Generalized Anxiety Disorder got thrown in there somewhere along the way. I am blessed to have a strong support system to help me through the really hard times. Yet, I know that even for my support team, my illness is hard to understand. My husband has figured out that one doesn’t need to actually understand how a person with Depression and/or Anxiety feel in order to help, love, and support them. Some people persist that until they can actually understand what I feel, that maybe I will just “get over it” one day.
I decided to not only compile this information for
This post contains affiliate links. This just means that at no extra cost to you I receive a small commission if you purchase something through the links in this post. This is one of the ways I make money blogging. If you want to know more about how I make money blogging with a chronic illness, read this post. You can also read my full disclosure policy.
✅ Can you have Anxiety and Depression together?
According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America:
It’s not uncommon for someone with an anxiety disorder to also suffer from depression or vice versa. Nearly one-half of those diagnosed with depression are also diagnosed with an anxiety disorder.
Did you see that? Almost half of all people with either anxiety or depression actually are diagnosed with both! So, YES, you can have anxiety and depression together. It is very common.
But just because you may have multiple mental diagnoses, doesn’t mean you are doubly ill. Depression and anxiety just simply seem to go hand in hand. I was first diagnosed with depression in my late teens (I probably had it since I was a child.) Then about 5 years later (after I had my first child), I was diagnosed with GAD (Generalized Anxiety Disorder.)
Since then (at the age of 40,) it has become apparent that I actually suffer from Bipolar 1 Disorder which has significant elements of depression and anxiety (not just mania.)
✅ What are the symptoms of Anxiety and Depression?
There are many symptoms of anxiety and depression. At first, you may just overlook them because you think you are simply stressed out. Or, maybe you have gone through a significantly difficult situation (like a death, a divorce, or financial problems.) It may take a family member or close friend to help you identify the symptoms or help you realize that what you are feeling is not a balanced state of mental health.
You will find that many of the following symptoms for anxiety and depression overlap. Physical symptoms of anxiety are more apparent to others because they cause bodily changes. Whereas depression symptoms are harder for other people to “see” because they occur more within your thoughts and mind.
Symptoms of Major Depressive Disorder in Adults
Although many people (children and adults) may experience a bout of depression at some point of their lives, people with Major Depressive Disorder exhibit symptoms most of the day, and almost all day for an extended period of time (the rule of thumb is 2 or more weeks.) With Major Depressive Disorder, you may have multiple “episodes” in the course of your life. With the proper medication and treatment, those times can become fewer and farther between each
Symptoms may include:
- Sadness, loneliness, hopelessness
- Lack of enjoyment of doing things you usually enjoy
- Frustration and irritability over small things that you usually could deal with more positively
- Problems sleeping (either insomnia or over-tired)
- Fatigue and lack of energy
- Change of appetite–either a significant decrease accompanied by weight loss or an increase for comfort foods along with weight gain (that’s me!)
- Impaired thinking or decision-making–like not being able to “think clearly” OR decreased ability to remember things
- Feeling worthless or guilty (being a burden to those around you)
- Frequent thoughts about death, suicide, and even suicide attempts
- Physical symptoms that don’t seem to be explained–like back pain, muscle soreness, headaches
- Anxiety or restlessness (See how anxiety and depression can be so closely related?
Symptoms of Anxiety Disorder in Adults
Everyone feels anxious or worried from time to time. But if you have Generalized Anxiety Disorder, then these feelings of worry or panic are excessive and a huge part of your daily life. The symptoms of anxiety disorder in adults can vary in intensity and differ in the thought types depending on the specific anxiety disorder you have. These symptoms interfere with your daily activities and make it hard to function and handle everyday tasks and responsibilities. Physical symptoms of anxiety disorder are very prominent. Anxiety can induce increased heart rate, trembling, and sweating.
This are some of the most common symptoms of anxiety disorders:
- Nervousness, tense, or restless
- Increased heart rate
- Feelings of impending doom, danger, or panic
- Feeling weak or tired (sound like a depression symptom?)
- Hard time sleeping because you can’t stop the thoughts of worry or stress
- GI (Gastrointestinal problems) like upset stomach, constipation, or cramping
- Avoiding things that may trigger you
- Can’t stop worrying
✅ Different Types of Depression Disorders
Major Depressive Disorder is really the only “type” of depression disorders. Since symptoms of depression vary greatly from person to person, doctors use something called a “specifier” to differentiate between different forms of depression. These specifiers are determined by the most prominent and distinguishable symptom of the patient. For instance, postpartum depression or SAD (seasonal affective disorder or seasonal depression.)
Here are examples of different “specifiers” and their distinguishing features as described by The Mayo Clinic:
- Anxious Distress – depression with a high occurrence of restlessness or worrying about things you have no control over
- Mixed Features – symptoms of depression and mania occurring at the same time
- Melancholic Features –
severedepression that is not at all alleviated when the patient participates in activities that usually brings pleasure and happiness
- Atypical Features –
depressionthat is characterized with what seems like the opposite of true depression, such as being able to be “cheered up” for a short time, increase in appetite, heavy feelings in the arms or legs, and excessive need for sleep
- Psychotic Features – depression with delusions or hallucinations with strong negative themes (many people don’t realize that there is depression like this)
- Catatonia –
depressionthat causes either uncontrollablemotor activity of the body or fixed and immovable posture
- Peripartum Onset (Postpartum Depression) –
depressionthat happens during pregnancy or right after birth
- Seasonal Pattern – depression that changes with the seasons and reduced exposure to sunlight; most commonly referred to as Seasonal Affective Disorder that happens for most people in the Winter months)
There aren’t truly different depression disorders. However, there are many mental illness disorders that cause depression symptoms. Bipolar 1 Disorder is a good example (and the one I have the most experience with), but there are many others listed below.
- Bipolar I and II Disorder – a serious mood disorder that is characterized by extreme mood swings. From high (mania) to low (depression), these states always come in pairs. For instance, if you have a severe manic episode, then you will almost always have a severe depression following it–UNLESS you are being treated by a certified mental healthcare professional and on the right medication. My psychiatrist was able to temper the depression I had following a major Manic episode with medication. Also to be noted, Bipolar II is characterized as having more severe depressive episodes and less severe manic ones.
- Cyclothymic Disorder – this disorder has mood swings of highs and lows that are much less severe than Bipolar Disorder
- Disruptive Mood Dysregulation Disorder – this is a mood disorder found in children that include chronic and severe anger and irritability with frequent extremes or temper outbursts. This often leads to depressive or anxiety disorder when the child reaches teenage or adulthood.
- Persistent Depressive Disorder (Dysthymia)- depression related to hormone changes women experience a week to 10 days before the menstrual cycle
- Other Depressive Disorders – Depression caused by another medical condition (like CHRONIC ILLNESS), recreational drugs, or as side effects from some prescription medications
✅ Types of Anxiety Disorders
There are many, many types of Anxiety Disorders. When you can’t control your worry or feel like suddenly you can’t catch your breath, it is time to seek medical attention. Different Anxiety Disorders have certain characteristic features.
According to the Mayo Clinic, these are different types of Anxiety Disorders:
- Agoraphobia – a type of anxiety disorder that causes you to avoid going places that may make you feel trapped, helpless, or embarrassed
- Anxiety Disorder due to a medical condition – (like a CHRONIC ILLNESS) intense anxiety or panic caused by another medical condition
- Generalized Anxiety Disorder – persistent and a high level of worry and stress about activities, events, and normal routine. This out of proportion worry affects your physical well-being and usually occurs with other types of Anxiety and Depression
- Panic Disorder – frequent episodes of intense anxiety, fear, or terror that peaks within a few minutes–also know as panic attacks
- Social Anxiety Disorder – avoidance, fear, and extreme anxiety of social situations because of anticipated feelings of embarrassment, self-consciousness, and fear of being judged by others
- Specific phobias – extreme anxiety and usually the onset of a panic attack when exposed to certain objects are situations that you specifically avoid because of your desire to avoid them
- Substance-Induced Anxiety Disorder – when a person has symptoms of extreme anxiety or panic because of misusing drugs, prescription medications, being exposed to toxic substances, or withdrawal from drugs
- Other specified anxiety disorder and unspecified anxiety disorder – terms for anxieties or phobias that don’t meet the specific criteria of conditions mentioned above but cause distress and are disruptive to the patient’s life
✅ Types of Depression Treatment Options
There are many different types of depression treatment options, but most people are treated with the following two therapies — medications and psychotherapy. Most treatment plans for patients use both of these as a comprehensive approach to diminish (and hopefully stop) symptoms. For more severe and persistent types of depression where these two therapies don’t completely treat the symptoms, Brain Stimulating Therapies may be used.
I am a firm believer that you should be prescribed medications for depression only by a psychiatrist. There are simply too many different options for medications associated with treating depression. So having a specialist that is more familiar with the different nuances of each prescription medication, how they interact with other medications you may be taking, and the particular medications that are know to address your most prominent symptoms is VITAL.
Psychotherapy may sound extreme, but it simply means seeing a therapist or a counselor. There are a few different
3. Brain Stimulating Therapies
The most common and well-known therapy of this type is ECT or Electroconvulsive Therapy. Don’t let the name scare you. When I was in the hospital recovering from my manic episode, I met many other patients that have had this procedure (outpatient) and it was not painful or traumatic (like you see in the movies) and actually very helpful.
There are more recent brain stimulating therapies to treat “medicine-resistant” depression such as rTMS (repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation) and VNS (vagus nerve stimulation.) You can read more about these types of depression treatment option on the NIMH’s website, on the Brain Stim
✅ Anxiety Disorder Treatment Options
Medication and Psychotherapy are the two main Anxiety Disorder treatment options and they are most often used in conju
Psychological counseling is super important for treating anxiety disorders. Working with a therapist to overcome and learn to cope with anxiety triggers and situations teaches you life-long tools to deal with your anxiety.
There are different types or classes of medications used to treat Anxiety Disorders. The specific anxiety disorder you are diagnosed with will affect the types of medication prescribed by your doctor. It might surprise you that certain antidepressants can be used to treat anxiety. You also may be prescribed medications like sedatives to be used (PRN) for short-term relief of your symptoms and are not inten
If you don’t have a therapist that you feel comfortable with and totally trust, find one! They are invaluable and will be pivotal in the treatment of your anxiety. In counseling you learn different coping strategies and anxiety management techniques that you can rely on when things get tough and you feel overwhelmed.
3. Exposure Therapy
Often times in CBT (Cognitive Behavioral Therapy) the mental health professional will include “exposure therapy” where you are gradually exposed to your triggers to help you build confidence that you can handle the situation that makes you feel the anxiety, stress, or fear.
4. Self-Help or Support Groups
Finding and interacting with other people who experience similar things can really make you feel understood and accepted. You can also learn from other peoples’ experiences and believe it or not others can learn from you.
You can also learn new coping strategies and have a place to vent to others who understand.
5. Stress Management Techniques
Living with an anxiety disorder can leave you quite literally, “in a panic.” So having some stress-management techniques ready to use is extremely important.
- Deep breathing
- Progressive Muscle Relaxation
- Calming Music
✅ Helpful Professional Organizations
If you are looking for a trusted source with the latest research on mental illness, then The National Institute of Mental Health is the best place to start. They are a federal agency that can help you find treatment, join clinical trials, and connect with many different outreach programs.
NAMI is actually a
ADAA is an international non-profit membership organization that is a leader in training health professionals and providing resources for individuals to research and find help for their conditions.
Did you know that approximately 1 in 100 adults in the U.S. have OCD? It is more common than we think. This foundation was originally formed by several individuals with OCD as a self-help group. Now they provide leading education and awareness for Obsessive-Compulsive Disorders.
This is one I am very familiar with–The Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance. They educate and provide support for people with mood disorders. One of their goals is to help people like me, and maybe like you, to achieve our life dreams even while living with Depression or Bipolar Disorder. They offer many online support groups for patients and their family members.
Read More About Living with Mental Illness . . .
- 20 Insanely Helpful Mental Health Apps For Managing Your Mental Illness
- How To Deal With Anxiety And Depression [Hope And Mental Illness]
- SAD Lights Reviews [Best Light Therapy Lamps For Depression On Amazon]
- 60+ Thoughtful Gift Ideas For Someone With Depression
- The Best Cognitive Behavioral Therapy Workbooks For Improving Your Mental Health
- 14 Top (Binge-Worthy) Podcasts About Mental Health
✅ Where to Find Support for Overcoming Anxiety and Dealing with Depression
There are various online communities that can help you deal with depression and overcome anxiety. Check out several of them and find one that seems like a good fit for you. Here are some tips for finding online communities and support groups for mental illness.
The Mighty is one of the first online communities I found. They offer support and community in several different areas-from chronic illness to parents of children with disabilities. I like to interact most with the Bipolar and Chronic Pain segments most. Their motto is “We face disability, disease and mental illness together”
Want instant access to my FREE Mental Health Resources and Printables? Just click the button below to get the super secret password and download as many as you like!
As a blogger myself, I find lots of inspiration and new ideas from other mental health bloggers. Here are a few of my favorites:
- The Brave and the Strong
- Anxious Lass
- Radical Transformation Project
- The Frozen Mind
- Jumbled Brain
- Speaking Bipolar
I also love how blogs can really help raise awareness for mental illness and combat the stigma most of us live with~~
Mental Health Books, Workbooks, and Journals
There are different types of books that can help with mental health. Some books are great because it is written by a person (just like me or you) who has experienced similar circumstances. They share the lessons learned and that also helps us feel connected.
If I am looking for a book that has information about mental illness and how to cope with it, I make sure it is written by a mental health professional (usually either a M.D. or licensed therapist.)
Journals are great books to work through feelings of doubt, guilt, and also identify strengths and life lessons. These do not need to be written by a professional. In fact, they can be blank or come with journaling prompts.
I can personally recommend a workbook that my current (and favorite) psychiatrist recommended to me years ago. The book is based on Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and I benefitted immensely from using it.
I was not aware of the Anxiety workbook version until I researched for this article. I can only imagine it would also be an invaluable resource in helping you deal with an anxiety disorder.
Currently, my depression and anxiety are under control. I feel like I am mostly leading the quality of life I want. Is say mostly because there are still blips that come up on the radar from time to time. I have to take care of myself and be proactive in my treatment. Over the years, I have developed many coping skills and habits (which you can read about here). A large motivation for starting my blog was to share what I have learned, provide encouragement, and increase awareness of depression and anxiety.
Update: Just within the past few years, I have been diagnosed with Bipolar 1 Disorder. The very nature of being Bipolar means I experience the extremes of both anxiety and depression. It has been ever more important for me to try multiple ways of overcoming anxiety and dealing with depression. Through therapy after my last manic episode, I learned the high value of self-care in my recovery and the maintaining of my mental well-being. Want to learn more about how self-care can be a game-changer in your mental health? Find the best tips on creating a self-care plan by checking out The [Easy] Beginner’s Guide to Self-Care.