Are you unsure of the differences when it comes to anxiety vs. depression? You’re not alone. Anxiety and depression are two of the most commonly diagnosed mental health disorders in the United States. They are easily mistaken for one another because they share similar symptoms ,but they are two distinguishable illnesses.
Despite their differences, one of the key similarities between the two mental health conditions is the ability to improve symptoms with the help of mental health professionals. If traditional and online therapy isn’t working, you may benefit from a more intensive form of treatment available through inpatient or outpatient services in your area.
Below you’ll learn about the key differences between anxiety vs. depression including the mental and physical symptoms and what you can do to treat both disorders.
How Are Anxiety and Depression Connected?
Anxiety and depression commonly occur together, but they can also be experienced separately. When comparing anxiety vs. depression, it’s important to note that they are two different types of disorders. However, anxiety and depression share biological commonalities because of how they affect neurotransmitter function. Because of this, they are frequently associated with one another.
For example, depression can be triggered by anxiety disorders such as generalized anxiety disorder, panic disorder, and separation anxiety. Reoccurring stressful situations that leave individuals feeling powerless over their thoughts and emotions can lead to depression symptoms.
Similarly, anxiety can occur as a symptom of major depressive disorder. Persistent uncontrollable feelings of sadness and loneliness can cause stress and worry as a result of feeling powerless in their thoughts and emotions, similar to anxiety.
This cycle of worry and sadness is what makes these disorders difficult to separate, but there are important differences that are important to know so you can get the proper treatment.
What Are the Differences Between Anxiety vs. Depression
You now understand the general connection between anxiety and depression, but what makes them different? When you take a look at anxiety vs. depression, one of the first major differences is the disorder types. Staying true to its name, anxiety is a type of anxiety disorder along with obsessive-compulsive disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, and other forms of anxiety. Depression, on the other hand, is a type of mood disorder. Other mood disorders include bipolar disorder and seasonal affective disorder.
With this in mind, mental and physical symptoms are the biggest indicator of whether someone is experiencing anxiety or depression. From there, individuals can find help for their disorder through medication or therapy according to what is best for their symptoms.
Mental Symptoms of Anxiety vs. Depression
It’s common for people with anxiety to:
- Worry about a variety of past, present, and future events
- Have uncontrollable racing or obsessive thoughts
- Avoid situations that cause them stress or fear
Individuals with anxiety may also frequently think about death, especially in association with symptoms or situations perceived as dangerous or life-threatening. While intense worry can be a normal response to major life changes and assessing danger is a natural human instinct, it can be a sign of an underlying issue when these thoughts affect daily life.
People with depression often feel:
- Hopeless that their circumstances will not significantly improve
- It’s not worth it to improve their thoughts, feelings, or behaviors
- Who they are and what they do in life is not valuable
Those with depression may also frequently think about death but from a different perspective. Adults struggling with depression are at a higher risk of suicide because of the presence of suicidal ideation. They may consider themselves to be a burden to others or that their life is not worth living. In this case, it’s essential to seek help immediately.
Physical Symptoms of Anxiety vs. Depression
Physical symptoms of anxiety can present as:
- Racing thoughts affecting concentration or the ability to sleep
- Gastrointestinal distress
- Increased heart rate and blood pressure
- Excessive sweating
- Muscle tension
- Shortness of breath
These symptoms are typically associated with the body’s heightened state of arousal, also known as the flight-or-fight response.
Physical symptoms of depression can include:
- Difficulty concentrating and focusing because of rumination
- Memory problems
- Lack of energy or motivation
- Appetite changes
- Sleep habit changes
- Moving or talking slowly
- Unexplainable body aches and pains
When it comes to treating anxiety vs. depression, effective medication types differ. For example, there are different types of reuptake inhibitors: selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) and serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs). The difference between these two are how they interact with the brain’s neurotransmitters.
Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, which are considered antidepressants, limit the amount of serotonin that is transported to increase the levels of serotonin in the body. This makes it easier to manage symptoms of major depressive disorder but can also be used to treat different types of anxiety. They can take several weeks to come into effect but they’re proven to minimize symptoms.
Benzodiazepines are a type of anti-anxiety medication typically used to treat short-term anxiety symptoms. They’re fast acting but not recommended for long-term usage because the effects don’t last long and they increase the risk of physical dependence. Unlike SSRIs that can be used to treat both anxiety and depression, benzodiazepines tend to be used specifically for anxiety disorders.
On the other hand, serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors block the transport of serotonin and norepinephrine to create a balance in the brain. Medications in this class can also treat both disorders. However, deciding which type of medication is best for you depends on whether you have an anxiety disorder or depression and the severity of your symptoms.
Treatments for Anxiety vs. Depression
The most important element when it comes to the topic of anxiety vs. depression is that you should seek professional help if one or both of these disorders impacts your life. The mental and physical symptoms may not be the same but untreated anxiety and depression can be equally detrimental to your overall well-being.
With that said, unless you’re struggling with severe symptoms, treatments for anxiety are similar to treatments for depression. Additionally, treatment modalities can be used to treat anxiety and depression together or separately. You can benefit from these treatment modalities through an intensive inpatient treatment program or an outpatient partial hospitalization program.
Such therapy methods include cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), a common type of talk therapy. This therapeutic technique focuses on being able to identify, challenge, and reframe negative thought patterns and behaviors. This can help with rumination or obsessive thoughts that contribute to unhealthy emotions and behaviors. In addition, support groups and group therapy can help those struggling feel less alone in their mental health battle.
Through inpatient or outpatient treatment, you can learn the skills you need to manage your mental health.
Get Help for Your Mental Health Condition Today
Now that you know more about anxiety vs. depression, you can look for the right type of treatment. Springbrook Behavioral Hospital, which is located right in Hernando County, provides evidence-based therapeutic methods to treat both disorders.
Our treatment center provides a safe and supportive environment for adults who are struggling with anxiety or depression and need help. Our mental health experts are here to work with you. If you want to know more about how we can help you overcome your mental health challenges, call us at 352-600-3288 or submit a confidential contact form online. Take another step toward improving your mental health today.