The Difference Between Anxiety and Depression

anxiety and depression

If you were to ask someone to name two common mental health problems, chances are they will say anxiety and depression. Even though they are commonly referenced in conversation, people still struggle sometimes to determine the difference between these two conditions. This is because many people with anxiety also develop depression and vice versa.

What is depression?

Depression is more than simply feeling unhappy or fed up for a few days, we all go through spells of feeling down. When you are depressed you feel persistently sad for weeks or months. If left untreated, it can go on for years.

Some people still think that depression is trivial and not a genuine health condition. They’re wrong. Depression is a real illness with real symptoms, and it’s not a sign of weakness or something you can “snap out of” by “pulling yourself together”.

Depression is a mood disorder with a wide range of other possible symptoms, which will vary from person to person. It can develop quickly or gradually and be brought on by life events and/or changes in body chemistry. It can strike anyon, but is curable in vast amount many cases.

Facts about depression

  • Depression is one of the leading causes of disability worldwide and a major contributor to suicide and coronary heart disease
  • 24% of women and 13% of men in England are diagnosed with depression in their lifetime
  • Depression often co-occurs with other mental health issues.
  • Depression occurs in 2.1% of young people aged 5-19.
  • In 2017, 0.3% of 5-10-year-old children met clinical criteria for depression, as did 2.7% of 11-16-year olds and 4.8% of 17-19-year olds.
  • Major depression is more common in females than in males.
  • Although, in 2018, males continue to account for three-quarters of suicide deaths in the UK (4,903 male deaths compared with 1,604 female deaths. Source – http://bit.ly/OfficeNS

Resource – http://bit.ly/mhfaengland

Although anxiety and depression and are two different mental health problems conditions, their symptoms and treatment can often overlap.

Below are the differences between the two: –

Symptoms of depression

  • lacking energy or feeling tired
  • feeling exhausted all the time
  • experiencing ‘brain fog’, find it hard to think clearly
  • finding it hard to concentrate
  • feeling restless and agitated
  • feeling tearful, wanting to cry all the time
  • not wanting to talk to or be with people
  • not wanting to do things you usually enjoy
  • using alcohol or drugs to cope with feelings
  • finding it hard to cope with everyday things and tasks

Depression can often come on gradually, so it can be difficult to notice something is wrong. Many people try to cope with their symptoms without realising they’re unwell. It can sometimes take a friend or family member to suggest something is wrong.

What is anxiety?

Anxiety is what we feel when we are worried, tense or afraid. Particularly about things we think could happen in the future. The “what if’s” in life. Anxiety is a natural human response when we perceive that we are under threat, experienced through our thoughts, feelings and physical sensations.

Anxiety is all about threat and danger (either real or imagined). The fear you experience becomes irrational and out of proportion to the actual threat itself.

Many people with depression may experience anxiety in addition to their low mood. People who feel anxious often feel tense, restless, and have trouble concentrating because they worry so much. Often, they are deeply afraid that something bad is going to happen or that they might lose control of themselves.

Symptoms of Generalised Anxiety Disorder (GAD)

GAD can cause a change in your behaviour and the way you think and feel about things, resulting in symptoms such as:

  • restlessness
  • a sense of dread
  • feeling constantly “on edge”
  • difficulty concentrating
  • irritability
  • withdrawal from social contact (seeing your family and friends) to avoid feelings of worry and dread.
  • you may also find going to work difficult and stressful and may take time off sick. These actions can make you worry even more about yourself and increase your lack of self-esteem.

Physical symptoms of GAD

GAD can also have several physical symptoms, including:

  • tiredness
  • dizziness
  • a noticeably strong, fast or irregular heartbeat (palpitations)
  • muscle aches and tension
  • trembling or shaking
  • a dry mouth
  • excessive sweating
  • shortness of breath
  • stomach ache
  • feeling sick
  • headache
  • pins and needles
  • difficulty falling or staying asleep 

If you’ve experienced these symptoms most days for more than six months and they cause distress in your daily life, then you may receive a diagnosis of generalised anxiety disorder. Other types of anxiety disorders include separation anxiety, panic disorder, or phobias, among others.

The difference between anxiety and depression

If you compare the two lists of symptoms, you can see that some overlap. Sleep problems, trouble concentrating, and fatigue are all symptoms of both anxiety and depression. Irritability may also manifest in forms of anxiety or depression (in place of low mood).

There are however, some distinguishing features:

People with depression tend to move slowly and their reactions can seem flattened or dulled. People with anxiety tend to be more ‘keyed up’ as they struggle to manage their racing thoughts.

GP help

If you have anxiety, depression, or both, chances are that your GP will recommend medication, therapy or a combination of the two.

Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) are a widely used type of anti-depressant They’re mainly prescribed to treat depression, particularly persistent or severe cases and are often used in combination with a talking therapy such as cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT). Source http://bit.ly/NHSUK

Professional talking therapy

Counselling or Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) for depression can help you understand your own expectations which might be unrealistic or difficult to maintain. It can also provide you with strategies to help both alleviate and prevent depressive symptoms from recurring in future. Furthermore it can show you steps to help find alternative ways of dealing with life’s challenges

Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is also the most widely-used therapy for anxiety disorders. Research has shown it to be effective in the treatment of panic disorder, phobias, social anxiety disorder, and generalised anxiety disorder, among many other conditions.

CBT addresses negative patterns and distortions in the way we look at the world and ourselves. As the name suggests, this involves two main components:

Cognitive therapy examines how negative thoughts contribute to anxiety.

Behaviour therapy examines how you behave or respond to situations that trigger anxiety.

The basic premise of CBT is that our thoughts—not external events—affect the way we feel. In other words, it’s not the situation you’re in that determines how you feel, but your perception of the situation.

The most important quality that anxiety and depression share is that they are both very treatable. Don’t hesitate to stay informed and find the right help, so you are on the right track towards a healthier mind and body.

To find our more or book an appointment https://www.cbtandcounsellingkent.co.uk/contact-us/

For urgent help contact freephone helplines such as :

The Samaritans http://bit.ly/TheSamaritans offer a 24-hours a day, 7 days a week support service. Call them FREE on 116 123. You can also email jo@samaritans.org

 CALM (Campaign Against Living Miserably) https://www.thecalmzone.net/ have a helpline (5pm – midnight) and webchat to support men 

Papyrus –  https://papyrus-uk.org/ is a dedicated service for young people up to the age of 35 if you are concerned about a young person.

You can call the HOPElineUK number on 0800 068 4141 or you can text 07786 209697  

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