Health Advocate Blog

Understanding depression and anxiety

If you or a loved one is suffering from depression or anxiety, you are not alone. Depression and anxiety are two of the most common mental illnesses in the United States. In fact, depression affects 7 percent of Americans, while anxiety affects 18 percent. One-third of people suffering from depression also suffer from anxiety. Depression and anxiety often occur together. Despite the prevalence of these mental illnesses, many people go untreated, even though both conditions are highly treatable. Getting help for depression and anxiety can greatly improve the quality of life for those affected. Read on to learn more about depression and anxiety as well as where to go to for help.


The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) defines depression as “depressed or sad mood, diminished interest in activities which used to be pleasurable, weight gain or loss, agitation, fatigue, inappropriate guilt, difficulties concentrating as well as recurrent thoughts of death.” To be diagnosed as depressed, 5 or more of the aforementioned systems must occur for a continuous period of two weeks or more.


According to the CDC, the definition of anxiety is “characterized by excessive and unnecessary worry about everyday tasks or events, or may be specific to certain objects of rituals.”

Effects on overall health

Both depression and anxiety can be considered chronic diseases on their own. They can also increase your risk for chronic diseases due to behaviors people may use to cope with these mental illnesses such as overeating, undereating, physical inactivity, smoking, and drug and alcohol use. Depression and anxiety often co-occur with chronic health issues such as obesity, diabetes, heart disease, sleep disorders, hypertension, and drug and alcohol addiction. At the same time, it possible that people who suffer from chronic diseases experience depression and anxiety as a result of their illness.

Where to turn for help

Support is important for those struggling with depression and anxiety. If you or a loved one needs help you may find it by:

  • Calling Health Advocate (if you’re an eligible member)
    • If you’re a Health Advocate member with access to our EAP+Work/Life Program, call us today to speak to one of our Licensed Professional Counselors. It is a good place to start to help you begin to work on your depression or anxiety as well as help you cope if you have a loved one dealing with these issues.
    • If you’re Health Advocate member with our Advocacy services, contact us to speak with a Personal Health Advocate that specializes in behavioral health. The Personal Health Advocate can help you locate in-network providers, inpatient and outpatient programs, understand treatment options as well as research low cost resources in your community. Your Personal Health Advocate can also help you find out if your employer offers an EAP outside of Health Advocate.
  • Visiting your company intranet, benefits website or calling your insurance company if you are not a Health Advocate member, to determine what resources are available through your employer.
  • Finding a support group. There are many support groups available to help you or your loved one. The Anxiety and Depression Association of America has a comprehensive database that can help you find a group in your area. You can find the database here. The Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance also has a directory where you can find support groups here.
  • Visiting for information about depression, anxiety and more.
  • Visiting the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) for help and resources concerning mental and behavioral health issues. They also have a hotline you can call for assistance: 1‑877‑SAMHSA7 (1‑877‑726‑4727).