Anxiety can cause depression if untreated: Empower Counseling as featured in Psych Central.

I recently had the honor of contributing to an informative article by Hilary Lebow in Psych Central. Hilary has many helpful articles published on Psych Central, including “How Does Your Body Remember Trauma?”, so it would definitely be worth your time to check them out! This article in particular is all about what can happen if anxiety goes untreated. If unaddressed and untreated anxiety can lead to depression and other complications in your life, like ruined relationships.

Can Anxiety Lead to Depression? Anxiety can cause depression

Anxiety shrinks lives by keeping us in our comfort zones, which is a misnomer because our comfort zones aren’t really comfortable. Often times anxiety starts with having a thought about something you want to do or need to do, like going to a high school dance or giving a presentation at work. Anxiety tells you, “I can’t do this. This is scary”. So you don’t go to the dance or you find a way to pass off the presentation. Now self-criticism starts because you didn’t do the hard thing that was important to you, that you wish you had done. Self-esteem, and self-confidence decrease because you have proven to yourself you can not do the hard things that are important. This is one way anxiety leads to depression.

Here are Three Ways Anxiety can lead to depression:

Avoidance of what makes you anxious: Anxiety can cause depression

Our brains convince us that if something makes us nervous or anxious, we should not do that thing. Seems reasonable, doesn’t it? Well our brains make this response seem like the right one for sure but our brains are not being helpful in this situation. In actuality, avoidance is the beginning of sliding downhill toward worsened anxiety and likely depression.

If anxiety is left untreated it can keep you stuck in your comfort zone. You think of something hard you need or want to do and that anxiety alarm goes off in your brain. This causes you to think “I can’t do that” or “I shouldn’t”. Our brains tell us that thing is dangerous and should be avoided. What anxiety is really telling us is that thing is important to us and we should move toward it. If we avoid it, we feel badly about who we are. This leads to self-criticism and a lack of faith in self. Thinking this about yourself leads to doing fewer and fewer scary things until you are stuck in a very small life. This is when depression kicks in.

Changed Self-Perception

Anxiety and depression typically stem from what we say to ourselves about ourselves. There are three common negative core beliefs that tend to be at the root of anxiety and depression. These are unworthy, unlovable, and not enough. During childhood we make meaning out of life and our experiences, we tend to make everything mean something about us. If we have had trauma or difficult experiences, it is easy to make these experiences mean something negative about us. However, we can have perfectly wonderful childhoods and still come to the conclusion we are not enough, unlovable, or unworthy. Whatever we believe about ourselves because of our interpretation of our experiences, we carry into adulthood, unless we work through these stories. The core belief of “not enough” tends to lead to anxiety, always needing to do more. Unworthy tends to lead to depression, a belief we don’t deserve much.

You might start out with the negative core belief “not enough” which fuels anxiety. Anxiety then fuels avoidance of anxious thoughts and feelings. If you were not self critical before, you will be when you begin avoiding the things you want to be able to do.

If you find yourself unable to start or follow through with things you need to do due to anxiety, it can change the way you see yourself and your ability to do hard things.

Anxiety Depletes your resources:

I agree with LPC, Katie Luman who also contributed her expertise to Hilary’s article. She states that anxiety causes your fight or flight response to be triggered which can deplete the stress hormones in your body. Depletion of your stress hormones can negatively affect sleep and appetite, which can contribute to depression.

The moral of this story is, if you are suffering from anxiety, do not wait to get the treatment you need, You do not have to live this way. Empower Counseling’s knowledgeable and compassionate counselors are all trained in ACT. Acceptance Commitment Therapy is a scientifically proven effective method of treatment for anxiety and depression. Kathryn , Adam, and Kristine offer counseling for teens, counseling for college students, young adult counseling and counseling for professionals. Anxiety counseling is not the only treatment offered in our Birmingham area counseling clinic. Empower Counseling offers counseling for depression, difficult life transitions, and counseling for addiction.

We will help you every step of the way. It is easy to get started. Just call 205-730-6570 today and begin your path to a better life.

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