Depression and anxiety are perfectly normal and natural feelings that we as humans experience. Events that occur in our daily lives can sometimes lead to us feeling anxious or depressed.
While the two feelings might be on opposite sides of the emotional spectrum (anxiety typically results in more energy while depression typically leads to less energy), depression and anxiety have more similarities than most people think.
While both are feelings that we all experience, they both can also signal a larger, more significant mental health issue. It’s also possible to experience both depression and anxiety at the same time.
In this blog, we will take a deeper look at the similarities between depression and anxiety, depression and anxiety differences, and things you can do to address your anxiety and depression issues.
What is Anxiety?
Before we get more into their similarities and differences, it’s important to understand what exactly anxiety and depression are and what feeling comes about.
Anxiety is the body and brain’s natural reaction to stress. During the day, it is not uncommon to experience some type of stress or anxiety, even if it is just for a brief moment. Several things can cause us stress in our daily lives such as:
- Making a difficult decision at work
- Experiencing a major life event (both good and bad)
- Trying something new
If you have a normal and “healthy” relationship with anxiety, you might experience anxiety when you are in a stressful situation and then that anxiety will slowly fade before going away.
However, if your anxiety lasts for an extended period after the stressful situation has passed, or you experience anxiety for seemingly no reason, it could be a sign that you are suffering from an anxiety disorder. In some instances, anxiety disorders can be so debilitating that they keep you from being able to perform daily tasks which, in turn, can lead to more anxiety.
What Is Depression?
Much like anxiety, depression is a part of life. We aren’t going to be happy and joyous every moment of every day of our lives. Sometimes things happen that make us feel sad or hopeless. When we experience these feelings of sadness or hopelessness it’s often a sign that we are going through depression.
For many people, depression is the result of biological, psychological, or environmental factors that cause us to feel “down in the dumps”. Depression can be caused by events in our life such as:
- Not getting a promotion at work
- Death of a family member or loved one
- Going through a breakup
- Having to move away from family and friends
- Getting a bad grade on a project at school
As is the case with anxiety, normal depression pops up around these events and then begins to fade away as you begin to move on from the event.
For some though, the depression doesn’t go away or, they experience feelings of depression for seemingly no reason. This can be a sign of having a depressive disorder such as clinical depression. Someone with clinical depression may experience depressive-like symptoms for weeks or even months and may feel as though there is no end in sight. This hopeless feeling can then make their depression even worse, continuing the cycle.
So, How Are Depression and Anxiety Connected?
As we touched on in the introduction, anxiety, and depression are found on opposite sides of the emotional spectrum. When you are feeling anxious or stressed, these feelings are often accompanied by high energy levels. On the contrary, when you are feeling depressed you tend to feel lethargic or like you have no energy whatsoever.
While it might seem like feelings that are so opposite can’t possibly have any sort of correlation, anxiety, and depression are more closely related than you think.
People who suffer from an anxiety disorder often experience depression as a side-effect or symptom of their anxiety disorder. They may begin to worry or think something is wrong because they can’t shale their anxiety. This can lead to feelings of hopelessness or sadness, which are both byproducts of depression. On the flip side, people who feel depressed might start to worry or get anxious when their depression doesn’t subside.
People who suffer from anxiety or depressive disorders are also far more likely to end up suffering from both. Many people who suffer from an anxiety disorder, end up developing a depressive disorder as a result of them letting their anxiety disorder go untreated.
What Are Some of the Signs and Symptoms of Anxiety and Depression?
Understanding the difference between “normal” depression or anxiety and depressive or anxiety disorders is crucial when it comes to getting the help that you need so your condition doesn’t worsen.
Let’s take a look at some of the more severe symptoms associated with depression and anxiety that could be a sign that you are suffering from a mental health disorder.
Someone suffering from an anxiety disorder will often experience anxious feelings for seemingly no reason. Additionally, when they are in situations where it’s normal to feel anxious, their anxiety will linger for much longer than it would in someone who isn’t suffering from an anxiety disorder.
Some potential warning signs of an anxiety disorder include:
- Difficulty managing your anxiety
- Sleep problems
- Brain fog
- Feeling on edge
- Experiencing feelings of panic or doom
- Muscle tension
Someone suffering from a depressive disorder such as clinical depression will often continue to feel depressed weeks or even months after the event that caused them to feel depressed initially. Even if something good happens after, they still might experience depression.
Some potential symptoms and warning signs of a depressive disorder include:
- Loss of interest in activities or hobbies
- Sleep issues
- Changes in appetite
- Weight changes
- Feelings of pessimism and hopelessness
- Little to no energy
- Unexplained aches and pains
- Stomach issues
- Feeling worthless or helpless
- Having trouble concentrating
- Inability to make decisions
- Suicidal thoughts
How Can I Get Help For My Anxiety and Depression?
Whether you are someone that experiences anxiety and depression as a part of everyday life, or you are suffering from a more serious mental health condition, it is important to remember that you are not alone. Millions of people deal with depression and anxiety daily.
Accepting that suffering from depression and anxiety doesn’t mean that you are weak or that there is something wrong with you can go a long way when it comes to getting the help that you need to address your condition.
Unfortunately, not enough people have this mindset. Many who suffer from depression or anxiety don’t fully understand what they are going through or they are too ashamed or embarrassed to ask for help. Often they will turn to drugs or alcohol as a way to self-medicate so that they can feel better. Doing so can not only make their anxiety or depression worse, but it can also ultimately lead to the development of a substance use disorder.
Below are some ways that you can healthily address your anxiety and depression.
One of the most successful treatment methods for treating mental health conditions of all kinds, including depression and anxiety is psychotherapy, also known as talk therapy or behavioral therapy.
During psychotherapy, your therapist will learn about you and have you talk through your issues. This will allow both them and you better understand what factors might have led to the cause of your depression or anxiety. By learning what these triggers or factors are, your therapist can work with you to essentially reprogram your brain so you react more positively and healthily in the future.
Some of the therapies that we offer at Alder Health to address depression and anxiety include:
- Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)
- Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT)
- Exposure Therapy
- Eye Movement Desensitization Reprocessing (EMDR)
- Individual, group, and family therapy
In some cases, therapy alone isn’t enough to properly address a person’s anxiety or depression. In those instances, it might be recommended that you also be prescribed medications that are specifically designed to help treat certain mental health conditions.
Some medications that have been proven to be effective in treating anxiety and depression include:
If you are prescribed any of these medications, it is important that you only take them as medically directed. While these medications can help address some of your anxiety or depression issues, they can also be abused which can lead to a substance abuse issue.
Want To Know More About Anxiety and Depression Differences?
If you or a loved one is suffering from an anxiety or depression disorder, it is important to get the help you need before the condition continues to worsen. Contact us today to learn more about the mental health services that we offer and how we can help you healthily address your depression or anxiety.