Anxiety and Depression: What Is The Difference?

The difference between anxiety and depression isn't as clear as one might initially assume. While they are different disorders with different diagnostic criteria, they often occur together and there can be overlap in symptoms.

Some people who struggle with an anxiety disorder will go on to develop depression as well, as a secondary condition related to their anxiety. The opposite also happens--people who are depressed may react to their depression by becoming anxious. And some people simply suffer from both disorders, without either being a clear primary condition.

Since SSRIs are used to treat both depression and anxiety and it appears that the neurotransmitter serotonin plays a role in both anxiety and depression, it's not surprising that the two disorders often occur together.

Anxiety and Depression Have Many Common Symptoms

There are a number of symptoms common to both anxiety and depression. These include fatigue, difficulty concentrating, insomnia, headaches, muscle tension, loss of appetite, weight loss or gain, feelings of guilt, and feelings of worthlessness. However, there are some important characteristics of anxiety and depression that are different.

People suffering from depression are overwhelmed by feelings of hopelessness and sadness, and often have a lack of energy and loss of motivation. Depressed people tend to lose interest in activities they once enjoyed, including social situations, and they may have thoughts of self-harm or suicide.

People with an anxiety disorder are preoccupied with feelings fear and apprehension that are out of proportion to the actual situation, and often have accompanying physical symptoms like heart palpitations, nausea, shortness of breath, and hot or cold flashes. As with depression, people suffering from anxiety may avoid social situations; however, this is usually because those situations provoke anxious feelings, not because of a lack of interest.

Photo: Pixabay

More Articles

The revised psychiatric diagnostic manual, the DSM-5, has an interesting addition: Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder (PMDD).

So ladies, if...

Mental health disorders, particularly anxiety disorders, are very common and often quite treatable. However, many of them remain poorly or...

Anxiety is a normal reaction to certain situations, and in some instances can be very beneficial. The proper amount of anxiety experienced at the...

If you experience anxiety in various unfamiliar situations, you’re not alone. It’s estimated that 40 million Americans suffer from situational...

One problem that anxiety can cause is head pressure. It is not a symptom discussed as often as some others, maybe because not everyone who...

More Articles

Around 40 million American adults suffer from some kind of anxiety disorder. While there are effective therapies and medications that make it...

If you're feeling overwhelmed by constant anxiety, or even just bothered by occasional bouts of stress, there are some lifestyle and health habits...

One way to help ourselves manage discomfort, whether chronic pain or anxiety, is to think about it in specific terms.

Words such as pain...

Vivactil (generic: protriptyline) is a tricyclic antidepressant that is sometimes prescribed to treat anxiety disorders such as panic disorder,...

Specific phobias are the most common type of anxiety disorder that is defined as an irrational fear of or aversion to a situation or specific...

Practicing small daily rituals that bring comfort, inspiration, beauty, tranquility, or encouragement into our life anchors us, and can help...

Stress and anxiety are largely a result of mental or emotional distress, causing feelings such as apprehension, fear, frustration, and anger....

SAM-e, or S-Adenosylmethionine, is a chemical that naturally occurs in the human body and is essential for many biological processes. Although SAM...

Beta-blockers are a class of drugs most commonly used to treat heart conditions, although they are useful in the treatment of a variety of other...

Everyone who has anxiety should have a few breathing techniques in their coping first aid kit.

The regular practice of controlled breathing...

Making deep emotional connections with family and friends reduces stress, creates happiness, and can actually keep you healthier. In other words,...

Agoraphobia is a disorder that develops when a person begins to avoid situations associated with anxiety. It arises from an anxiety condition that...

Librium, known generically as chlordiazepoxide, is a benzodiazepine used to relieve anxiety and to control the agitation that is a side effect of...

Over the course of my 14 plus years of having an Anxiety disorder, I have read so much information and learned so many techniques for controlling...

There are a lot of techniques and good advice available on how to overcome panic disorder, from watching what you eat and drink to changing the...