23 'Red Flags' That Might Mean You Have Both Anxiety and Depression

It didn’t take me long to realize I had anxiety. I knew enough about it to identify its symptoms: the racing thoughts, pressure in my chest, pain in my back, panic attacks, plus the fact that anxiety was rampant in my family.

It wasn’t until years later I realized I lived with depression, too.

While I experienced more “classic” symptoms of anxiety, nothing about my depression jumped out at me as being depression. I was going to work and school. I didn’t have a hard time getting up in the morning. I never self-harmed (although I thought about it). Instead, my depression looked like neglecting self-care (“I’m just too busy to shower!”), isolating myself (“I’m too tired to go out with friends!”) and a sense of deep purposelessness I was always trying to fill with busyness and work. But it was still depression, and I couldn’t fully focus on my mental health until I addressed that sad, numb part of me, too.

Depression and anxiety affect people in different ways. They also commonly come together — about half of those with anxiety also experience symptoms of depression. We wanted to know how people with anxiety and depression realized they had not just one mental health condition but two, so we asked our mental health community to share with us how they knew they had both anxiety and depression.

Here’s what they told us:

1. “Having an anxiety attack and then self-harming to feel better.” — Shaley R.

2. “Mostly the fatigue and emotional bleakness when my body has run low on adrenaline. The tiredness and body pain… I was relieved actually to find out what it was.” — Aaron H.

3. “I can go from caring about everything to caring about nothing.” — Jessica B.

4. “Being both tired and full of adrenaline at the same time.” — Sharni R.

5. “Growing up as a happy and optimistic kid, I knew something wasn’t right the moment I felt I couldn’t be fully happy. With all the blessings and contentment, there’s always something that will remind me I don’t deserve it and that everything’s temporary.” — John B.

6. “No motivation to do anything, but not doing anything makes me anxious.” — Kayla C.

7. “Wanting to do nothing but sleep, but being unable to because my brain won’t shut up.” — Amorith E.

8. “When one part of mind is going a million miles a minute screaming at me to do something, while another part screams back, ‘Why bother?'” — Rachel C.

9.Depression tells me I don’t care. Anxiety says I care too much. Having both is war in my head. Sometimes depression wins, sometimes anxiety wins. A huge red flag for me was when I was cooking and my mom and sister stopped and looked at me and my sister ‘whispered,’ ‘She’s singing and cooking again she even left her room.’ She asked my mom if I was me again or the stranger that was still in my body. She will never know what she woke me up to: my reality of not being OK and thinking it was normal.” — Rebecca B.

10. “Wanting so badly to die, but being so terrified of not having a future.” — Alyssa J.

11. “When I’m too depressed to do housework, but have panic attacks about people seeing how dirty my house is.” — Elisabeth R.

12. “Overanalyzing everything, while not having the energy to do anything about it. Freaking out about work or friendships, but not being able to get out of bed.” — Chealsey G.

13. “Losing interest in and refusing to do the things I know would normally help with anxiety.” — Lauren G.

14. “Staying up very late because I couldn’t handle the thought of living another day, and then staying in bed late [in the] morning because I was anxious about the day.” — Annabelle W.

15. “When I would get really under the weather, I would fight with myself to go into a class I was one hour late to. Then, I would stand outside without ever having the courage to go in. I would end up breaking down back in my dorm, wondering why it had to be this way.” — Frida P.

16. “I cycle. I go from thinking I can do something, getting overwhelmed, then I feel like I’m not good enough, then I get depressed. This happens constantly with every single decision I have to make and every good thing that happens in my life.” — Skye J.

17. “When I get invited to things but my anxiety won’t let me for fear of standing out like a sore thumb, and depression makes me feel like I let my friends down because I said maybe and didn’t show.” — Megan N.

18. “I began sleeping more than I was awake. I could sleep 10 hours a night and still take a five-hour nap in the afternoon. Then I would get anxious that my family and friends were mad at me for sleeping so much. Repeat cycle.” — Ashley U.

19. “The constant binaries at work in my own mind. Depression says, ‘Don’t get out of bed.’ Anxiety says, ‘So many things to do.’ Depression says, ‘There’s no point. Anxiety says, ‘Too many people will notice.’ Depression says, ‘No one loves me.’ Anxiety says, ‘Everyone hates me.’ Depression says I shouldn’t be alive, and anxiety says I’m never good enough.” — Rosie B.

20. “[I went to] see a psychiatrist for what I suspected was postpartum depression. ‘Are you here with concerns primarily regarding depression or anxiety?’ My thoughts were, ‘Anxiety? What is he talking about? I don’t have anxiety!’ I had no idea that my 24/7 worrying was a concern!” — Carrie M.

21. “I always knew I had anxiety, but for a long time I didn’t think I had depression because I wasn’t suicidal. I was eventually diagnosed, but I realized when good things would happen and it didn’t necessarily make me any happier, something was wrong. It wasn’t fear; it was fears being alleviated and still not feeling any better.” — Marie L.

22. “The red flag is I want to be with people, but on the same hand I can’t be around people. My depression doesn’t want me to be lonely, but my anxiety makes me a lonely person.” — Sky J.

23. “The constant back and forth in my head. The need to be doing something all the time to quiet my anxiety, but not being able to get up and do anything thanks to my depression.” — Sharon E.

If you or someone you know needs help, visit our suicide prevention resources page.

If you need support right now, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255, the Trevor Project at 1-866-488-7386 or text “START” to 741-741. Head here for a list of crisis centers around the world.


A Good Day Vs. a Bad Day With Depression

What it’s like to have both good and bad days living with depression.

Read the full transcript:

A Good Day Vs. a Bad Day With Depression

On a good day, when I stay in bed, it’s because I want to lay there for a few extra minutes, just to stretch my legs and look at my phone…

On a bad day, I wake up with a brick on my chest, pinning me down, making getting up seem impossible.

When I’m feeling OK, I’m late to work because I got distracted, took a wrong turn and it’s just been “one of those mornings…”

When depression takes over, I’m running to late to work because I spent an hour debating whether or not it was worth going at all — or if it would be better to stay home, and climb back into bed.

Depression is distraction, not because I’m thinking about my weekend plans,

but because I can’t focus over the constant stream of negative thoughts running through my head.

It’s the difference between taking a nap because you’re tired,

and taking a nap because you want to escape, because there’s nothing worth doing when you’re awake.

It’s not doing chores, not because you’re busy

but because you can’t find the energy or motivation to get up.

What you see might be laziness. Procrastination. Forgetfulness. When I’m having a bad with with depression, it’s so much more than that. Don’t assume you know what’s going through my head.

sad woman hugging pillow and crying muted color

When a Low Mood Makes You Frightened Depression Is Returning

I am well into recovery from a severe episode of depression. I’m thankful I’m able to write that. I’m doing well in terms of medication, getting more exercise and looking after myself better. However, there’s always the fear every time a mental slump occurs that depression is rearing its ugly head once more.

There are days, even weeks, of feeling mentally stable, and I almost convince myself I’m in a great place and will remain there for the foreseeable future. Unfortunately, my mind likes to mess around with me every now and again and drag me down into the pit.

This is a place that scares and confuses me. I know even the most mentally robust of people have a bad day and just aren’t feeling it. I want to be one of those people who says “bad days happen” and gets over it.

The problem is that when you’ve been so low that you’ve tried to die by suicide, sometimes even the slightest twinge of melancholy can be frightening.

I am writing this on a day when low mood came crashing in from the moment I opened my eyes. Rather than normal waking, it was more like a heavy shutter crashed down on me, with a sign upon it stating, “closed for business.”

These days are thankfully few and far between now, but they still make me question where I am with my mental health. The problem is that a low mood day is similar to depression. I don’t want to talk to anyone, I feel angry with the world, I’m irritable, sad, out of sorts and generally just long to stay in bed all day.

The only hope I hold on these low mood days is that maybe tomorrow I will wake up and it will have passed. This is where my mind can be cruel. I’ve had low mood days plural, even as long as a week. I panic and grow concerned that I’m relapsing. I try to keep going and do all the good things that help me both mentally and physically. I battle with whether it’s worth it if I’m just going to go hurtling back down the rabbit hole of depression. I monitor myself so hard that it makes my head hurt.

This is the curse of being someone prone to depression and who has had episodes of varying severity over the past 20 years. I can never rest easy. I know that sounds pessimistic. Don’t get me wrong — I do not live life waiting to slip into depression.

Once I’m in recovery, I try my best to not only pick up the pieces but seize the new days to come. It’s just that when you’ve spent a large part of your life having at least two severe episodes a year, you cannot help but brace yourself for it to hit when you’re having a low mood day or week.

Low mood days are hurtful reminders of an illness that takes over my life. Low mood days are unwelcome signifiers of how it was and how I never, ever want it to be again.

When a low mood day comes, all I can do is hold on tight, use all the coping strategies I know and dip out of life for a while. I know self-care. I’m getting better at it.

If the housework doesn’t get done because my brain is whirring negative thoughts at the speed of light, so what? The world will not end.

If I cannot work on my novel today due to the inability to stay awake and focused, I will try to be kind to myself and not buy into the feelings of failure. I’ve come too far to quit.

Today is a low mood day.

Today I am giving myself a break and care for me. After all, I am the most important person right now. That’s not selfish. That’s survival.

If you or someone you know needs help, visit our suicide prevention resources page.

If you need support right now, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255, the Trevor Project at 1-866-488-7386 or text “START” to 741-741. Head here for a list of crisis centers around the world.

We want to hear your story. Become a Mighty contributor here.

Thinkstock photo via spukkato

11 Real-Life Ways ‘High-Functioning’ Depression Can Manifest

A psychotherapist describes the signs of high-functioning depression, otherwise known as dysthymia.

Read the full version of What Are the Signs of ‘High-Functioning’ Depression and Could You Have It?8.

Read the full transcript: 

11 Real-Life Ways ‘High-Functioning’ Depression Can Manifest

  1. Difficulty experiencing joy.
  2. Relentless criticality — of self and others.
  3. Constant self-doubt.
  4. Diminished energy.
  5. Irritability or excessive anger.
  6. Small things feel like huge things.
  7. Feelings of guilt and worry over the past and the future.
  8. Relying on your coping strategies more and more.
  9. Generalized sadness.
  10. Seeking perfection.
  11. Inability to rest and slow down.

If you see yourself in this, remember you’re allowed to ask for help, even when you don’t feel “sick enough,” even when you’re still managing to get by.

Everyone deserves the help they need.

Girls positive silhouette

The 4 Words That Helped Save My Life

“Are you worth it?”

The four words that helped save my life and set me on the road to my recovery journey.

“Are you worth it?”

That is what my friend said after I revealed my depression, anxiety and eating disorder struggles to him.

It was the first time I completely opened up to anybody and took off my “mask.”

“Are you worth it?”

He said it again as I sat there feeling hopeless, scared and lost.

The words took me by surprise, but thinking back, it was the best response I could have gotten.

Am I worth it? I never really thought about it before, and I didn’t know how to answer.

“Are you worth it?”

Repeated again, I couldn’t respond. I so wanted to say, “Yes I am,” but the words just wouldn’t come out of my mouth.

But that phrase echoed inside my head…

“Are you worth it?”

Maybe it wasn’t only the words that made a difference, but the way they were said. They were said with kindness, understanding and compassion. They were said to encourage me to look inside myself and realize what others see that I can’t, because I’m so stuck inside my head. Often pain consumes my mind and I forget that others don’t see what I feel.

I took a risk and expressed what I feel and what I’ve kept hidden for years, and he didn’t look at me as if I were “crazy” or a “bad” person.

He looked at me as if I was still a friend — as if I were still “me.”

So maybe he thought I was worth it? And maybe others thought I was worth it too?

It was up to me to find my inner-worth and to start to love myself and to take care of me. His reaction to my truth was the catalyst for me to seek help for my mental illness.

Sure, there are still days when my depression covers me like a cloud… or my anxiety incapacitates me with a panic attack… or my eating disorder voices tell me I am less than…

But then I hear it…

“Are you worth it?”

Yes… I am!

If you or someone you know is struggling with an eating disorder, you can call the National Eating Disorders Association Helpline at 1-800-931-2237.

We want to hear your story. Become a Mighty contributor here.

Thinkstock photo via Alexander Panov.

woman sitting outdoors wearing jumper and has arm covering part of her face looking sad

The Important Difference Between Depression and Sadness

There is this unfortunate misunderstanding that depression is just really deep sadness.

As someone who has often experienced depression and knows many who have, this is very frustrating. Everyone will be sad at some point in their lives, but not everyone will be depressed. Sadness is your favorite sweater being ruined or losing something or someone important to you; depression, on the other hand, is a mental illness.

Depression is not simply sadness. While it often feels like sadness, it goes much further because it’s a persistent sadness that seeps into your life where it doesn’t belong. Depression as a mental illness, and is not always caused by external sources.

It’s so vital to recognize this difference because treating depression is not as simple as being cheered up after a bad breakup. The problem, however, is that people treat it like it is — that getting off the couch or watching a funny movie will make depression go away. The reality is that it doesn’t, and while it’s great people are trying to help, it really does the opposite. It puts an unrealistic expectation on someone that they have a choice and just isn’t trying hard enough.

When I hear someone tell me to cheer up when I’m depressed, I really try and when I can’t I feel like I’ve failed them. This isn’t fair to me and it isn’t fair to them, because of this basic misunderstanding of depression and how it can completely take over someone’s life. Sadness is like thinking the world is ending but clicking on the news and see that it isn’t. Depression is thinking the world is ending and not being able to even pick up the remote, and living in that state of turmoil.

Obviously being sad is not enjoyable for anyone, it’s a completely valid emotion that should be respected. However, depression is a completely different and needs to be recognized as such. Please understand when you know someone who is depressed and feel the need to tell them to cheer up, that they’re just sad. Stop yourself. Stop and remember that depression is a mental illness and can’t be cured by a pint of ice cream.

We want to hear your story. Become a Mighty contributor here.

Thinkstock photo via BalazsKovacs

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