Most psychotherapists would agree that depression is anger and sadness that has been repressed. And it can lead to a state where the afflicted feel there is nothing they can do to change their situation. A hopelessness emerges.
Another key characteristic is anxiety. But scientists have recently focused on a specific type of worry that is significantly linked to depression. This is anxiety about feeling anxiety. Here a person thinks that something catastrophic is going to happen if they allow themselves to feel anxious.
The scientists had 94 above-average worriers take a variety of anxiety questionnaires and two tests for levels of depression. But they controlled for worry and generalized anxiety in order to isolate specific anxiety about feeling anxious. The research is published in the December issue of the Journal of Anxiety Disorders.
The two dimensions of so-called anxiety sensitivity that are most strongly linked to depression are fear of loss of cognitive control and fear of revealing anxious symptoms in public. The other dimensions, fear of respiratory and cardiovascular symptoms showed no link to depression.
The authors note that current depression therapies focus on depressive symptoms and not anxiety sensitivity. They suggest therapists might want to consider helping people change their perception of anxious emotion, to not see it in such a negative light.
Of course, this reminds us of Franklin D. Roosevelt’s sage words at his first inaugural address: “…let me assert my firm belief that the only thing we have to fear is fear itself—nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror which paralyzes needed efforts to convert retreat into advance.”