The National Institute of Mental Health says that (NIMH) almost 103 million American adults have problems with their mental health like anxiety or depression at some point in their lives. The organization also says that about 8.4% of all adults in the U.S. had at least one major depressive episode in 2020 alone. People diagnosed with depression are also more likely to have an anxiety disorder. Even though these are common mental health problems that people deal with on their own, they can also happen simultaneously.
But what makes anxiety different from depression? How can you tell which one you might be up against? And if you have both, what do you do?
Depression vs. Anxiety
“Anxiety and depression are both mental health issues that may have a significant influence on a person’s life and capacity to function,” says Dr. Nathan Brandon, a licensed clinical psychologist and certified clinical anxiety treatment professional
While the two illnesses have certain parallels but also significant differences.”Worry, nervousness, and fear are all symptoms of anxiety,” Brandon says. “On the other side, depression is marked by emotions of despair, hopelessness, and worthlessness.”
According to Maggie Holland, a certified mental health practitioner in Washington, anxiety is typically a struggle in predicting the future. At the same time, depression is supposed to be a struggle with looking back to the past.”Unfortunately,” she replies, “it’s a bit more difficult than that.” Each of these mental health illnesses has its own set of symptoms, and many of them might overlap. And although it is possible to have both at the same time, they are two different diagnoses.
Most people have anxiety at some point in their lives. This includes worrying about money, a project at work, your health, or your family. But if these feelings last long, it could indicate an anxiety disorder. Anxiety disorders come in many forms, such as generalized anxiety disorder, social anxiety, panic anxiety disorder, and fears based on phobias. If stress isn’t treated, it can affect a person’s relationships with others and how well they do at work.
Symptoms Of Anxiety
- Feeling nervous or unsettled. Worry doesn’t go away for at least six months and is hard to control.
- Find yourself getting tired quickly.
- Having trouble keeping your mind on one thing
- Pain in the head
- Muscle aches, stress, and stomach pains can’t be explained.
- Sleep problems, such as trouble staying asleep or getting to sleep
Depression can change the way someone thinks, feels, and acts in the world. It can also show up in many different ways, just like anxiety. Depression is usually diagnosed when the symptoms have been going on for at least two weeks. This includes bipolar disorder, general major depressive disorder, depression after birth, and seasonal affective disorder.
Some signs of depression are:
- Feeling anxious, sad, or “empty” all the time is a sign of depression.
- Having a sense of hopelessness or pessimism
- Feelings of anger, guilt that doesn’t go away, worthlessness, or helplessness
- Less interest in activities or hobbies that used to be fun
- There was a significant weight loss without dieting or doing more exercise.
- Changes in hunger and thirst
- Feeling less energetic or more fatigued
- Having trouble sleeping or sleeping too much
- Talking slowly or feeling sluggish
- Having trouble thinking, staying focused, or making decisions
- Thoughts of dying or killing oneself often, as well as attempts to do so
Treatments Of Anxiety And Depression
According to Yvette Visconte, clinical director of mental health at Families Together of Orange County Community Health Center, “anxiety and depression share comparable molecular pathways in the brain.” She claims these illnesses are often treatable with treatment techniques such as Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Dialectical Behavioral Therapy, and Motivational Interviewing.
“Ultimately, therapy is patient-specific, and it takes longer if both anxiety and depression are present,” Viscount says.”Targeting changes in sleep hygiene, learning new thinking and mental functions, and even certain psychiatric drugs target the same symptoms,” Holland explains. It may be necessary to plan for safety if the person has suicidal thoughts and talk about good eating habits and general health.