What Distinguishes Anxiety and Depression from Normal Emotional Experiences?

We all experience anxiety, fear, and sadness. However, some emotional experiences are so intense, distressing, or disruptive that they are considered a sign of an anxiety or depressive disorder. Where to draw the line between healthy emotions and clinical disorders—and, in fact, whether a line exists—is one focus of our research program. We study disorder boundaries using several complementary research approaches, including:


Why Do Anxiety and Depression So Often Co-Occur?

Most anxious individuals also suffer from depression at some time in their lives. The reasons for this comorbidity, however, are poorly understood. Research in our laboratory investigates biobehavioral mechanisms that cut across anxiety and depression and may help explain their comorbidity. We also study distinguishing mechanisms that may account for the presence of anxiety or depression in persons vulnerable to both. Our work centers on the particularly close relationship between generalized anxiety disorder and major depressive disorder. We study shared and specific mechanisms for these disorders using diverse methodological approaches, including: