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Learn About the Connection Between Anxiety and Mood Disorders

All mental health disorders are different, with different causes and complications. But many can be grouped with other, similar disorders that help describe these disorders to the general public. One group of disorders are known as "mood disorders," and studies have shown that those with any of the four mood disorders may be at greater risk of developing an anxiety disorder.

Your Anxiety and Your Mood

Far too many people living with mood disorders have an undiagnosed anxiety disorder, and this anxiety disorder may be hurting their treatment. Learn more about your anxiety now. Take my free 7-minute anxiety test.

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Anxiety Disorders Are Not Mood Disorders

Anxiety does affect the mood. Anxiety can cause hopelessness, fear, and several other emotions. But it is not considered a mood disorder, presumably because while anxiety affects mood, it isn't directly related to mood. Mood problems with anxiety are secondary to the condition.

To understand your anxiety better, take my free anxiety test. Mood disorders, on the other hand, refer to the following conditions:

  • Major Depression
  • Cyclothymia
  • Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)
  • Mania

Depression is clearly its own separate condition. Though it is linked to almost every type of psychiatric disorder, it requires its own special treatment. However, studies have shown that those with mood disorders have a very high rate of comorbidity with anxiety disorders. In fact, a poll by the Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance showed that _as many as 87%_ of those living with a mood disorder also suffer from depression - the vast majority of them undiagnosed.

Causes of Anxiety From Mood Disorders

There are many potential reasons that mood disorders can lead to anxiety. In these same studies, the research said that a lack of sleep was a huge contributing factor, as was difficulty in social situations. Depression also causes significant stress and fear of its symptoms, both of which can develop into anxiety disorders.

The two may also have been the result of shared experiences. Rough or stressful home life can lead to both anxiety and depression, for example, indicating that they were grown together as separate disorders that simply occurred at the same time. Often mood disorders become more obvious and pronounced, so the anxiety disorder doesn't get treated.

Anxiety Disorders May Lead to Mood Disorders

Similarly, anxiety disorders themselves can also contribute to mood disorders, not just the other way around. Several studies have linked severe anxiety - especially panic attacks - with the development of depression. Many of those with severe generalized anxiety disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, and obsessive-compulsive disorder start to suffer from depression as well.

What This Means For Mood Disorder Treatment

Because anxiety and mood disorders are separate issues, this means that you need to speak with a mental health professional about both problems, not just one. While depression and mood disorders require immediate intervention, you also need to worry less and have positive emotions if you want to overcome these conditions, and that means that you may need to address your anxiety as well.

Always discuss strategies with your healthcare provider. Both mood disorders and anxiety are treatable, but often finding the right treatment for you depends on a bit of luck and trial and error, since not every treatment works perfectly for each individual.

You should also strongly consider taking my free 7-minute anxiety test now. It's not a substitute for a diagnosis, but it will give you greater background on your anxiety and help you learn what can be done to address it.

Start the test here.


Anxiety Survey Depression and Bipolar Disorder Support Alliance, n.d. Web. 25 Feb. 2013

Mineka, Susan, David Watson, and Lee Anna Clark.Comorbidity of anxiety and unipolar mood disorders. Annual review of psychology 49.1 (1998): 377-412.

Brown, Timothy A., et al. Current and lifetime comorbidity of the DSM-IV anxiety and mood disorders in a large clinical sample.Journal of Abnormal Psychology; Journal of Abnormal Psychology 110.4 (2001): 585.

Author: Micah Abraham, BSc Psychology, last updated Nov 29, 2017.

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