22 Subtle Ways Anxiety and Depression Affect Your Daily Life

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Sarah Schuster

Sometimes when you live with anxiety and depression, it’s not just one big thing, but the accumulation of “little” things, that can make everyday life challenging. While these things may seem “subtle” to the outside world, they’re often huge for the person dealing with them. Just because others can’t see the effects doesn’t make them any less real.

To find out how these little things add up, we asked people in our mental health community to share how anxiety and depression affect their daily life.

Here’s what they had to say:

1. “My body hurts, and the aches can’t be cured with exercise or a healthy diet. It’s a pain in the soul that affects the body. It’s hard for people to understand if they haven’t felt it themselves.” — Starr P.

2. “Depression makes me want to lay in bed all day, but anxiety makes me think that if I do that, I’ll miss something, something bad will happen or I’ll fall behind in work or class.” — Cailey C.

3. “Absolutely everything I do is a fight. Even the most simple daily tasks. It’s like two opposites fist fighting in my brain. But I’m the one who gets hurt and depression and anxiety keep going strong.” — Merica M.

4. “Depression makes me want to leave work early. Anxiety tells me if I do I’ll be fired. So I end up spending my days at work being super unproductive. Then depression starts to wonder if getting fired even matters and anxiety is convinced I’ll be fired anyway since I haven’t gotten a lot done.” — Megan R.

5. “Anxiety is the stream of thoughts that can’t stop, even if you tell yourself to calm down. Anxiety is being nervous for something and you have no idea why. Depression, though… depression is the drowning in those streams of thoughts. It’s the darkness that pulls you in and makes you believe you’re nothing. Unworthy. Depression is the monster that wants to win.” — David S.

6. “Depression makes me so tired 24/7, but the anxiety keeps my brain awake which keeps me awake 24/7. I almost never sleep more than two to three hours a night.” — Suewanda B.

7. “Depression makes me have no motivation to do anything. Anxiety convinces me I’m a terrible person for not doing anything and that I have a million things I should be doing instead of laying in bed all day — and the fact I’m not doing them means I’m going to fall behind and fail at life.” — Zoe S.

8. “Instead of looking people in the face I watch the ground because I am afraid they will speak to me if we have eye contact. I am afraid I won’t know what to say back.” — Vicki V.

9. “Anxiety makes me question everything: is my boyfriend going to get sick of me? Am I smart enough for grad school? Am doing enough at work? Am I good enough? The depression makes me feel like all the negative thoughts my anxiety brings up must be true: I’m am a complete failure. I’m stupid, worthless, a burden and deserve the bad things that have happened to me. It makes me feel hopeless.” — Martine E.

10. “Some days I just don’t’ know which way is up. I don’t know where to focus because my depression pulls me one way and my anxiety another.” — Mandy L.

11. “Depression makes me not want to go to school, but my anxiety makes me freak out if I miss school. Anxiety keeps me up at night, but my depression makes me so tired. I am constantly fighting myself. It is completely exhausting.” — Jordan R.

12. “I feel like I have to create a carefully curated version of myself to cover both my anxiety and depression. When they are both in full swing, I can feel the mask slip because I can no longer perfectly portray the happy, centered version of myself people have come to expect. It’s challenging because although people routinely come to me to seek that steady, level-headed person I portray from 8-6 each day, no one sees me, and when they do see the mask slip even a little, they rebuff me. It’s incredibly lonely to feel like I can’t breath, but I have to portray calm assurance to feel like I can barely drag myself through work I typically love and know no one really sees me.” — Charity L.

13. “When my anxiety gets going and my brain jumps into overdrive thinking about the million things that need my attention, that’s when the depression shows up and says, ‘Let’s not do any of that.’” — Julia A.

14. “Often my depression is a symptom of my anxiety. I do things that are fueled by my anxiety and then afterward will beat myself up over my decision and end up in a very low spot for the rest of the day. It’s like I’m either in a state of anxiety or a state of depression. When I’m in both it’s like a hurricane.” — Kira M.

15. “They contradict each other and affect me as a student especially. Sometimes I will have no motivation to do an assignment, but yet it makes me anxious turning it in late or not doing it and receiving a bad grade.” — Joanna M.

16. “Anxiety stops me from having good relationships with people caused by repeating thoughts that they hate me, they’ll leave me, etc. Depression is not caring about anything, and both are hell. I care, but I don’t care at all. This all stops me from moving forward with anything because it feels useless.” — Amber W.

17. “The anxiety makes me worry that the reason a person isn’t replying is because they’re ignoring me on purpose or that they have better things to do. The depression tells me I’m not worth their time, and I should just leave them alone instead of bothering them.” — Randi B.

18. “When the doorbell rings and the tainted mix of anxiety and depression takes you to ‘it’s the police, something dreadful has happened,’ but you can’t bring yourself to stand up and find out.” — Heather B.

19. “I have constant arguments with myself. I know that it is good for me to speak to people and have company, but my depression means I have no motivation to go out, and my anxiety tells me that even if I did speak to anyone, I’d only bore them and keep them from something more enjoyable.: — Jenny B.

20. “Going to grocery store seems like the hardest most terrifying experience. You question your hair, your clothes, your walk, the drive, the walking down the aisles. It’s scarier than climbing Everest. I just resign myself to order in.” — Ana E.

21. “Anxiety means I always have to have an ‘escape route.’ I sit close to the door, or at the end of the row in theaters.” — Gordon M.

22. “It may look subtle to be people on the outside, but on the inside to us these subtle effects can be distressing. Not wanting to get up out of bed, not having the energy to shower, some of us either don’t feel like eating or eating becomes a big comfort. Socializing is a huge effort, it can drain every last bit out of you, and when you finally sit down the thoughts then start. I would not say there is any subtle way to explain it — there’s just silent to those around, and that is the short of it.” — Shona-Lee G.

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