What comes first depression or anxiety? This is a question I asked my therapist when I was trying to come to terms with the confused feelings I was experiencing as I fell further into the melancholic state of depression. It was one of the many questions I wanted answers for to try to gain an understanding of what was happening to me.

Some say that depression is genetic and or hereditary. From a behavioural and emotional perspective the latter is close to reality. Our upbringing strongly influences our behavioural patterns and how we relate to our external environment and this in turn affects our biological and chemical makeup. When you add to this the fact that major depression is on the increase, I think a definitive answer will always evade us.

We all get depressed and anxious at times but when it overpowers us our life can get turned upside down. It is a fact that most of the time depression and anxiety go hand in hand. I absorbed as much as I could over the last 8 years to get an answer to this, and I have come to realise that the answers come through experience.

Before I write about my experiential conclusions, I want to give my interpretation of depression and anxiety.

Depression occurs when the ability to cope with suppressed emotions diminishes. In a society where the best or first place is praised, and anything else receives only moderately enthusiastic acclaim, it is understandable why certain melancholic emotions manifest. When we add to this the destructive thoughts that produce the feeling of, ‘always doing something wrong’, depression can cause feelings of low self-esteem and poor self-worth. This in turn can create envy and jealousy as comparing to others dominates our thoughts. A cycle of seeking approval and trying to please then ensues.

Low energy accompanies depression and that is understandable as the need for approval and to please increase and overpowers our thoughts. Further energy zapping thoughts can occur with the societal tendency to uphold our image and identity at all cost. If you add the fear of failure to the equation it is no wonder that our energies become depleted.

The energy needed in seeking approval and the need to please as we try to prove our self- worth and unconsciously raise our self-esteem can overshadow the enjoyment of life. Depression and sadness can then become like a constant companion that affects all our relationships.

When the feeling of doing something wrong becomes overly strong, and takes a firm hold on our unconscious mind, fear projected future scenarios, or anxiety, is the despairing result. Thoughts of not being good enough or making a mistake can perpetuate a limbo like state of fear whereby decision making becomes unclear. Depression and anxiety can then turn into a vicious circle of confusion and lack of purpose. Low energy is the undeniable by-product.

Acute anxiety is panic and the projection of our fears into the future. These feelings may be unprovoked by external circumstances but to the sufferer it creates a false reality of terrifying panic. Fear comes from the fear of death and generates from a natural primordial instinct. When it is intertwined with the emotion of fear, anxiety becomes like an intense drama that is played out in the depth of our minds.

With all this in mind, my conclusion to the inquisitive question, “What come first, depression or anxiety”, is that depression initiates the downward spiral of low self-worth with confusion manifesting as our fears dominate our thoughts. As our fear increases so does our anxieties.

All of what I have written here is understanding through experience but to you, the reader, this is just knowledge to be absorbed, to be filed away into the hard drive of your memory. Experience through intuition will always give us the answers. It is up to the individual to follow that intuition and create an experience that is truly memorable.

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