People suffering from mixed anxiety-depressive disorder experience symptoms of both disorders for at least a month at a time. This condition can be ongoing or come and go over a period of months or even years when left untreated.
According to the University of Hawaii, someone with mixed anxiety-depressive disorder may experience the following symptoms:
- Persistent feelings of sadness and restlessness
- Multiple physical complaints over time
- Poor work performance/attendance
- Limited social interactions
- Sleep problems
Symptoms of anxiety and depression often occur together in equal intensities. These symptoms gradually restrict a person’s lifestyle to the point where his or her emotional well-being and social connections start to decline over time.
As symptoms of anxiety and depression can closely resemble one another, making a diagnosis of mixed anxiety-depressive disorder can be tricky. A person must be experiencing symptoms of both conditions and not one or the other. In effect, it’s the interplay of depression and anxiety symptoms that most distinguishes mixed anxiety-depressive disorder from one or the other. Likewise, a proper diagnosis is necessary to ensure a person receives the type of treatment most needed.
As anxiety symptoms tend to be the most resistant to change, treating a person’s anxiety symptoms first makes it easier for him or her to engage in ongoing treatment for a mixed anxiety-depressive disorder, according to the U.S. National Library of Medicine. The type of anxiety symptoms a person experiences typically dictate what types of medications a physician will use to treat mixed anxiety-depressive disorder.
The types of medications used to treat this condition include:
- Anti-anxiety medication (anxiolytics)
- Beta blockers
- Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors or SSRIs
- Monoamine oxidase inhibitors or MAOIs
- Tricyclic antidepressants
- Serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors or SNRIs
The types of medications prescribed work to treat the various symptoms caused by depression and anxiety. With depression medication treatments in particular, it can be difficult at first to find the right medication to fit a person’s individual needs. It’s not uncommon for physicians to try two or more different antidepressants before a person finally gains relief from depression symptoms.
Of the different anti-anxiety medication options, benzodiazepines, while effective, do carry a risk for addiction. People who’ve had problems with addiction in the past may want to steer clear of benzodiazepine medications as a treatment for mixed anxiety-depressive disorder.
Psychotherapy treatment for mixed anxiety-depressive disorder comes in two forms: cognitive-behavioral therapy and interpersonal therapy. Each approach targets different aspects of the disorder. The cognitive-behavioral therapy approach works to modify the negative thought patterns that drive the symptoms a person experiences. Cognitive-behavioral therapists also work with a person to modify any negative behaviors that perpetuate his or her symptoms.
The interpersonal therapy approach deals with specific problematic relationships that may be aggravating a person’s mixed-anxiety depression disorder symptoms. In effect, therapists help a person identify specific relationship patterns that tend to make his or her symptoms worse. This may entail behavior modification exercises designed to help improve communication and overall social skills.