The Differences Between Anxiety and Depression (Plus How They are Connected)
Anxiety and depression are both common mental health disorders that can affect just about anyone at any age. Despite their different symptoms, they have some similarities, so it’s easy to mistake one for the other – especially if you have not yet received an official diagnosis. However, it is essential to know the differences between these two conditions so you can get the appropriate help when necessary.
What is Anxiety?
Anxiety is a feeling of unease, worry, or fear that can be mild or severe. It often manifests as physical symptoms such as a racing heart, shortness of breath, and dizziness. Anxiety can be brought on by any number of things, including stress at work or school, financial problems, health concerns, or family issues.
Types of Anxiety
There are a few different types of anxiety disorders, each with its own set of symptoms. The most common are:
Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD): This type is characterized by excessive worry and anxiety about many areas of life, such as work, money, health, and relationships.
Social Anxiety Disorder: This condition involves intense fear or worry about one or more social situations in which others will judge you.
Panic Disorder: This type involves severe and sudden panic attacks out of the blue, even when no obvious stressor is present. Panic attacks can cause shortness of breath, chest pain, dizziness, nausea, trembling, and hot flashes.
What is Depression?
Depression can be very serious in that it affects your daily life and the people around you. It often starts gradually with feelings of sadness or low energy. However, when left untreated, depression can get worse and cause serious health problems beyond feeling blue.
Symptoms of Depression
Depression can cause a wide range of symptoms that vary from person to person. Some common symptoms include:
- Feeling sad, anxious, or “empty” most of the time
- Loss of interest in activities you once enjoyed
- Having trouble sleeping or oversleeping
- Eating more or less than usual
- Feeling restless or sluggish
How Depression Affects Physical Health
Depression is not just a mood disorder. It can also cause many physical symptoms that lead to serious health conditions like heart disease and diabetes. Physical symptoms of depression may include:
- Chest pain
- Aches and pains that don’t go away
- Digestive problems like constipation or diarrhea
- Trouble breathing
- Suicidal Thoughts and Behaviors
Depression is the leading cause of suicide, which is why it’s so important to seek help if you are experiencing any symptoms. If you or someone you know is having thoughts of suicide, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline right away: 800-273-8255.
How Anxiety and Depression are Connected
Depression is often accompanied by anxiety and vice versa. In fact, it’s not unusual for people with one of these disorders to also have the other. The reason for this connection is still unknown, but it may be due to a combination of genetic and environmental factors.
Anxiety and depression also tend to have a cyclical relationship, meaning that anxiety leads to depression and depression leads to anxiety. In some cases, anxiety may actually be a symptom of depression. For example, suppose you have severe anxiety accompanied by panic attacks and racing thoughts. In that case, you might also develop symptoms of depression, such as feelings of hopelessness or lack of interest in activities that used to make you happy.
Treating Anxiety and Depression
Both anxiety and depression are serious conditions that should be treated by a mental health professional. They may be treated alone, but if you have both conditions, your provider will be able to develop a personalized plan that addresses all of your symptoms.
Telepsychiatry for Anxiety and Depression
If you believe you may have anxiety or depression, you deserve answers. At Mile High Psychiatry, we provide telepsychiatry appointments, allowing you to speak with a provider from the comfort of your home.
We accept a wide range of insurances, making quality mental health care accessible.