Healthcare Training Institute - Quality Education since 1979
CE for Psychologist, Social Worker, Counselor, & MFT!!
Many times, I have found that clients with panic or anxiety disorder seem to also suffer from some form of depression. The first trouble we have in this finding, however, is the question of which is the primary disorder?
In this section, we will examine depression co-occurring with anxiety disorder. We will examine primary depression; primary anxiety disorder; and the combination of both primary depression and anxiety disorder.
♦ #1 Primary Depression
In conjunction with these anxious symptoms, clients also manifest the tell-tale signs of depression. Some may sleep for long hours during the day. Many experience weight gain, listlessness, hopelessness, or the urge to cry at inappropriate times. Maxine was a client of mine who had originally been referred to me as an anxiety disorder client. She had reported grinding her teeth and feeling restless. However, her anxiety did not meet the criteria for an anxiety disorder.
Instead, many of her other symptoms such as her overeating seemed to affect her daily life more than her anxiety. I asked Maxine how she had been feeling lately and Maxine stated, "Actually, not so good. I just went through a terrible divorce, so I feel like a wreck. I don’t feel like getting out of bed in the morning. But then I feel restless by staying in bed. All I want to do is watch Maury and eat sugary stuff. This isn’t like me at all. I used to feel great about myself. Now, since there’s no one there that I need to look good for, I’ve stopped trying."
As you can clearly see, Maxine fit the diagnosis for depression not anxiety disorder.
♦ #2 Primary Anxiety Disorder
Usually, I have found that clients whose anxiety disorder occurs primarily tend to have less intense depressive symptoms than those whose depression occurs primarily. Denise was an anxiety disorder client of mine who had reported feelings of depression. Denise stated, "When my sister was sick for a long while in the hospital, I was feeling almost as sick with anxiety. I kept expecting that call with the doctor on the other end saying, ‘We couldn’t do anything for her.’ Even though I knew the cancer was in remission, I had this overwhelming feeling something awful was going to happen. This went on for about three months, and after a while, all I felt like doing was laying in bed and crying."
As you can see, as a result of her anxiety, Denise had developed depression. I explained to Denise that these feelings of listlessness were a symptom of her anxiety. Her body had been so overwhelmed by worry that it was starting to shut down emotionally.
♦ Technique: Best Case Scenario
Denise wrote, "Bet will come home from the hospital, smiling and energized. In a few days, we will be able to take walks again and have our chats over coffee or lemonade, depending on the season. Her cancer won’t come back for a long time, and even if it does, the doctors will treat it once again and she will beat it once again."
I asked Denise to put this scenario in a place she could easily see it. Denise framed it and put it on her bedside table. Whenever Denise felt like staying in bed, she would look over to see her Best Case Scenario and her anxiety would be somewhat eased. Think of your "Denise". Could he or she benefit from a "Best Case Scenario"?
♦ #3 Both Primary Depression and Anxiety Disorder
To obtain a differential diagnosis, I must ascertain a client’s mental health. To do so, I use the following list of criteria when interviewing a client for one of the first introductory sessions:
Using these criteria, I map out a line of questioning that will adapt for each client.
In this section, we discussed depression co-occurring with anxiety disorder. We went over primary depression; primary anxiety disorder; and when both depression and anxiety disorder are primary.
Peer-Reviewed Journal Article References: