Medically reviewed by Susan Vachon, PA-C on February 4, 2022
Anxiety and depression are not a walk in the park. They are serious mental conditions that can have effects on nearly every facet of your personal and professional life. While anxiety and depression have different symptoms, they can both result in decreased quality of life. We’ve compiled a few of the top ways that depression and anxiety can affect people to help illustrate their full impact.
1. Staying Connected with Family or Friends May Feel Difficult
It’s common for people with anxiety and depression to struggle with maintaining relationships with friends and family, but for different reasons.
With social anxiety, you may have trouble interacting with others. This type of anxiety may cause you to be worried about what people will think of you. It can force you to stay home and avoid social events. And if you do go out, you’ll be trying to plan out exactly what you’ll say in your head, so you may miss out on important context clues in conversations. Naturally, this makes it hard to meet new people or start a new relationship.
Depression is a little different. Rather than being stressed out over how you’ll be perceived, you’ll likely just have no energy or inspiration to leave the house. You might feel like isolating yourself away from the world because you feel like a failure or that you’ll let others down.
2. Your Work or School Performance Might Suffer
With both anxiety and depression, it’s common to have problems concentrating. In anxiety, it’s often because your mind is racing around all of the potential possibilities for a particular situation. For example, you may be so consumed with worry about one thing or another that you struggle with concentrating on day to day tasks.
With depression, these problems revolve more around motivation and making decisions. You may experience a feeling of being excessively tired and having low motivation which makes it more difficult to focus.
In both cases, you might find your work or school performance suffers. You’ll likely have difficulty getting things checked off your to-do list at work or studying for a big test at school. You may even panic when it comes time to speak in front of others. This can potentially lead to negative performance reviews or bad grades.
3. You Might Get Sick More Often
If you feel like you always have a cold of some kind, it could be because your anxiety and depression are wreaking havoc with your immune system. Both of these conditions can lead to an increase of cortisol in the body. This is a stress hormone that facilitates tissue repair in the body and enhances how your brain uses up its energy.
Too much cortisol can weaken your body’s immune system, making it harder for you to fight back against viruses and bacteria. This weakness in the immune system increases depending on how much stress you’re facing. For example, if you’re worried about your loved one who is in the hospital, you’ll likely have an increased chance of getting ill yourself.
A weakened immune system may cause you to need to take more days off of work or cancel plans with friends because you feel too sick.
4. Your Sex Drive May Be Reduced
Remember cortisol? Turns out, having too much of it is also linked to a lower sex drive. When you think about it, that makes total sense. If cortisol is responsible for your stress response, having too much of it means your body can’t really focus on anything other than surviving. In other words, it can make it difficult to get in the mood.
Depression also has a different reason for causing a lack of sex drive. Usually, sex is a pleasurable activity that causes a release of serotonin in the brain, reinforcing these good feelings. In depression, it’s common for people to not have enough serotonin in the brain, meaning they don’t get as much pleasure as they should from sexual activity.
Whatever the case, the end result can make it hard to maintain romantic relationships. If you have a dedicated partner, he or she might be understanding. But if you’re casually dating, it can be very hard to take your relationship to the next level and foster a deeper connection.
5. You May Experience Excessive Guilt
Depression and anxiety don’t discriminate when it comes time to assign blame. They both love to turn the self-loathing to max volume.
With both of these conditions, you might feel guilty over the smallest things. For example, with depression, you might feel guilty over letting your cat down because you’re too lethargic to play with her enough. Or with anxiety, you might fret over not spending time with friends because you are consumed with anxiety about social situations.
Research shows that this may have to do with actual differences in brain processing. One study that focused on people with depression found that the target group did not have concurrent activity in brain regions associated with guilt and knowledge of appropriate behavior — at least when compared to the control group. This means they may not be able to reflect on what should and should not be causing guilt.
Your Daily Life Doesn’t Have to Suffer
If you read through all of these scenarios and thought — that sounds just like me — you can change that. You don’t have to keep suffering. When you consult a medical professional and start a depression treatment or anxiety treatment regimen, you can slowly decrease your symptoms until you feel like yourself again.
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