Anxiety vs. Depression: How to Tell the Difference and Get Help

Anxiety and depression are two of the most common mental health disorders in the United States. They both cause a great deal of suffering, and it can sometimes be difficult to tell the difference between them.

Symptoms of Anxiety

Anxiety is characterized by feelings of worry, nervousness, and tension.

People with anxiety may also experience physical symptoms such as a racing heart, sweating, and difficulty breathing.

Anxiety can be caused by a variety of things, including genetics, stressful life events, and medical conditions.

Other signs of anxiety to look out for include:

  • Headaches
  • Muscle tension
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Irritability
  • Fatigue

Obviously there are different levels of anxiety, with some people experiencing it more severely than others.

For some people, anxiety is a chronic condition that interferes with their daily lives. In such cases it would be best to get help from a mental health professional, who could prescribe medication and offer therapy.

In other cases , anxiety may only occur in certain situations, such as when speaking in public or during exams. This type of anxiety is not likely to require medication, and you could try to control it using techniques such as focusing on the breath or on the senses, or other mindful strategies that help you calm your mind.

Symptoms of Depression

People who are struggling with depression often experience persistent sadness, loss of interest in activities, and feelings of hopelessness.

People with depression may also experience physical symptoms such as fatigue, aches and pains, and difficulty sleeping.

Depression is often caused by a combination of genetic, biological, and environmental factors.

Other signs of depression to look out for include:

  • Changes in appetite, which then lead to noticeable weight loss or weight gain
  • Irritability
  • Insomnia or hypersomnia (sleeping too much or not enough)
  • Loss of energy
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Feelings of worthlessness or excessive guilt
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Thoughts of death or suicide

If you find yourself thinking about death or suicide please call a local suicide helpline immediately.

How can you tell the difference between depression and anxiety?

As can be seen from the brief descriptions above, the symptoms of depression and anxiety sometimes overlap, which is why it can be difficult to tell the two conditions apart.

That said, there are a few key difference between depression and anxiety.

First of all, anxiety is most often characterized by feelings of worry and tension, while depression is characterized by feelings of sadness and hopelessness.

Second, people with anxiety often experience physical symptoms such as a racing heart, while people with depression usually experience physical symptoms such as fatigue and aches and pains.

Depression and Anxiety can Coexist

There is also another complication that needs to be considered. This is the possibility that a person can have both an anxiety condition and also be struggling with depression.

This is not uncommon, and in fact, it is estimated that around one-third of people with anxiety will also experience depression at some point in their lives.

How to get better

If you think you might be suffering from anxiety or depression, it is important to seek professional help.

There are a variety of effective treatments available for both conditions, and a mental health professional will be able to help you determine which treatment is right for you.

A therapist can also you using Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT), which has been shown to be an effective treatment for both anxiety and depression. Other options include therapies such as EMDR, which is specifically designed to treat anxiety, medication and/or lifestyle changes.

There is no shame in seeking help for mental health conditions, and the sooner you seek help, the sooner you will start to feel better.

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