The question is, can depression cause social anxiety disorder? Or is the reverse true, and being socially anxious causes you to become depressed? It is natural to ask all this questions about why you feel depressed or why you may become socially anxious if you are depressed, given the close relationship between them.
Feeling anxious and worry about being around others thereby isolating yourself or stop participating in activities can make you feel down generally. At the same time, the fear of being around people can be a result of loss of interest in life.
Social Anxiety and Depression
Researchers have shown that there is a very strong relationship between having social anxiety disorder (SAD) and developing depression later in life. If you have been diagnosed with social anxiety disorder, you are six times more likely to develop the following:
- Bipolar disorder
Other Associated Risks
Having both SAD and depression puts you at risk for a number of other related problems like:
- Increased risk of problems with alcohol
- Impairments in social and occupation functioning
- Lesser response to treatment
- Risk of suicide
And also, you are more likely to have chronic and severe symptoms if you have been diagnosed with social anxiety disorder and also suffer depression.
SAD and Later Depression
Studies have shown that developing social anxiety disorder at an early age will lead to depression as you grow older. But not everyone with SAD becomes depressed. However, when SAD appears at a young age, adequate and prompt treatment may reduce the risk of developing depression at a later age.
Social Withdrawal Differs Between Social Anxiety Disorder and Depression
Take for instance, a young college student (either male or female) who would rather make friends, go for parties and mingle with people but he fears embarrassing himself in front of others. As a result, he stays in the dorm room day after day, and night after night, wishing he could be a part of the group. Compare this with the student who deliberately avoids social contact because it’s just not any fun for her – the thought of going to parties or getting together with friends holds no promise of enjoyment. Although both SAD and depression may involve social withdrawal, the cause of withdrawal is different. Here are the possible causes of social withdrawal:
- People with social anxiety disorder withdraw out fear of negative evaluation
- People with depression withdraw due to a lack of enjoyment
People with social anxiety disorder wants to enjoy themselves if they could interact appropriately with others and not think of embarrassing themselves in front of others, whereas those with depression don’t ever expect to enjoy themselves.
Treatment of SAD and Depression
People seek help when they feel depression, but little do they know that the underlying problem may be social anxiety disorder. Usually, people with SAD will rarely speak to anyone about the problem they face and often do not realize that they have a treatable illness. As a result, most people with SAD fail to get treatment unless the disorder occurs alongside another condition.
Unless a well trained medical professional look for secondary disorders, social anxiety disorder may continue to go misdiagnosed. In treating depression, social anxiety disorder must be addressed if not, treatment will prove ineffective. Recommended treatments for depression can also be used in treating social anxiety disorder, this treatment includes:
Cognitive behavioral therapy: A talk therapy focused on modifying negative thoughts, behaviors and emotional responses associated with psychological distress.
Behavior therapy: A therapy focused on modifying harmful behaviors associated with psychological distress.
Psychotherapy: treatment of mental or behavioral disorders through talk therapy.
- Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI): Eases symptoms of depression and SAD
- Antidepressant: prevents or relieves depression and SAD. There are a lot of misconceptions about anti depressant medication and while there is no simple explanation as how it works, it can be very helpful in the treatment of moderate to severe depression and SAD.
- Antipsychotic: Reduces or improves the systems certain psychiatric conditions
- Electroconvulsive therapy: Treating mental illness by sending electric current through the brain to trigger a seizure. Also know as shock treatment.
- Clinical psychologist: treats mental disorders primarily with talk therapy, this can help you change your thinking patterns and improve your coping skills so you’re better equipped to deal with life’s stresses and conflicts. As well as supporting your recovery, psychological therapies can also help you stay well by identifying and changing unhelpful thoughts and behavior.
Other sources of treatment
Depression and SAD can go on for months or even years if left untreated. The good news is that a range of effective treatments are available, as well as things you can do yourself to recover and stay well.
Different treatments work for different people, and it’s best to speak to your health professional about your options and preference. If you’ve taken the first step and talked through some treatment options with a health professional, you might like to try a few of the following ideas for lifestyle changes and social support. Most people discovered that a combination of things work best.
It’s important to remember that recovery can take time and just as no two people are the same, neither are their recoveries. Be patient and go easy on yourself.
- Maintain a healthy lifestyle
- Learn about you condition
- Visit support groups and online forum
- Learn relaxation training
- Visit family and friends
Symptoms of SAD and Depression
The persistent feeling of sadness or loss of interest that characterizes major depression and SAD can lead to a range of symptoms. This may include change in sleep, appetite, energy levels, concentration, daily behavior or self-esteem. This can also be associated with thoughts of suicide.
People may experience:
Mood: apathy, general discontent, guilty, hopelessness, loss of interest or pleasure in activities, mood swings or sadness.
Sleep: Early awakening, excess sleepiness, insomnia, or restlessness.
Whole body: Excessive hunger, fatigue, loss of appetite, and restlessness
Behavioral: agitation, excessive crying, irritability, or social isolation
Weight: weight gain or weight loss