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Person asking themselves, "Anxiety vs. depression: What's the difference?"

Anxiety vs. Depression

On the surface, anxiety and depression seem entirely dissimilar. After all, people imagine anxiety as something more active and pressing, while depression is more of a backdrop. But when it comes to anxiety vs. depression, people struggling with them find few differences. Instead of the differences between anxiety and depression, there are many more similarities—and the two mental health issues have symptoms that often occur together.

A residential depression treatment center or a residential anxiety treatment center can help you determine which one you are currently dealing with and help you improve your mental health to start you on a better and happier life. Call Promises Behavioral Health at 844.875.5609 to speak to someone from our caring and compassionate staff.

Anxiety vs. Depression: What’s the Difference?

Both depression and anxiety can impact your daily life. They can make it challenging to get things done and difficult to enjoy things you once loved. But depression and anxiety are separate mental health issues, encompassing several disorders with different causes and treatments.

Anxiety Disorders

Anxiety leads to trouble concentrating, irritability, difficulty sleeping, restlessness, a feeling of exhaustion, and repeated issues with worrying. When people are anxious, they may constantly think negative thoughts or feel negative about themselves and their performance. When anxiety symptoms start affecting daily functioning or become too severe, it may signify that an anxiety disorder has developed. Common anxiety disorders are:

  • Generalized anxiety disorder (GAD)
  • Panic disorder
  • Phobias
  • Social anxiety disorder
  • Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD)

Anxiety disorders can run in families, but they may also be caused by traumatic experiences or prolonged periods of stress. Anxiety disorders are treatable with medication, therapy, or a combination of both.

Depression Disorders

Depression leads to a lack of enjoyment of previously loved activities, a hostile or apathetic mood, difficulty sleeping or a tendency to oversleep, a lack of energy, under-eating or overeating, trouble concentrating, and a general feeling of hopelessness or worthlessness. Individuals who are depressed have difficulty sustaining positive emotions, though they will often still feel them occasionally. When depression symptoms become too severe or start making it difficult to get through the day, it may be a sign that a depression disorder has developed. Common depression disorders are:

  • Bipolar disorder
  • Major depressive disorder (MDD) or clinical depression
  • Persistent depressive disorder or dysthymia
  • Postpartum depression
  • Seasonal affective disorder (SAD)

Depression disorders can run in families, but they may also be caused by medical conditions, medications, or traumatic experiences. Some people may only experience one episode of depression in their lifetime, while others may have multiple episodes. Depression disorders are treatable with medication, therapy, or a combination of both.

Similarities Between Anxiety and Depression

In both depression and anxiety, you may have trouble sleeping, feel exhausted, have difficulty concentrating, and be consumed by negative thoughts. The notable difference is that depression comes with a generally hopeless mood, and anxiety leads to fidgeting and restlessness.

Could You Have Both Anxiety and Depression?

The truth is, it’s usually not a matter of anxiety vs. depression. Many people experience symptoms of both, and a symptom of one can lead to another. People regularly consumed by anxiety generally enter into a state of depression related to their anxiety. Depression can also lead to anxiety, as some people struggle with depressive thoughts and cannot counter them.

It can be a little more complicated to treat both anxiety and depression at once, especially if you are given a dual diagnosis. However, some cases aren’t a dual diagnosis situation—meaning while you may have an anxiety disorder, you might not have a depression disorder, or vice versa. Sometimes, you may simply experience symptoms that point to both.

Professional mental health treatment is always the best way to approach anxiety and depression, whether you have one or both. A therapist can help you understand your symptoms, figure out the root cause of your anxiety or depression, and work with you to develop a treatment plan to address anxiety and depression. Medication may also be necessary to control your anxiety and depression, and a psychiatrist can help you figure out if this is the case.

How Can You Tell the Difference Between Anxiety and Depression?

With all mental health issues, it’s best to talk to a professional first. Self-diagnosis can be helpful at the beginning stages of your treatment, but it should never replace an official diagnosis from a trained professional. You can take quizzes online or keep track of your symptoms, but ultimately you will need to consult a professional or get assessed by a mental health treatment team.

Once correctly diagnosed, you can work with your doctor on a customized and comprehensive treatment plan. While both anxiety and depression disorders are treated with medication, therapy, or a combination of both, the types of medication and therapy differ.

Medication Differences

If you have anxiety, your doctor may prescribe:

  • Anti-anxiety medication like lorazepam or diazepam to help with panic disorder or acute anxiety
  • Antidepressants like selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) or serotonin and beta-blockers to help control anxiety symptoms related to performance anxiety or social anxiety
  • Buspirone to help relieve GAD
  • Serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs) to help ease anxiety and depression

For depression, your doctor may prescribe:

  • Antidepressants like SSRIs or SNRIs
  • Atypical antidepressants like bupropion or mirtazapine
  • Monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs) like phenelzine or tranylcypromine
  • Mood stabilizers like lithium or valproic acid
  • Antipsychotics like aripiprazole, olanzapine, or risperidone

There are different types of medication for anxiety and depression, so you must get the correct diagnosis before starting any treatment.

Therapy Differences

The type of therapy you receive will also differ depending on your anxiety or depression. However, both anxiety and depression disorders benefit from the following:

  • Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT)
  • Exposure therapy
  • Interpersonal therapy
  • Psychodynamic therapy

If you have anxiety, your therapist may focus on breathing exercises and relaxation techniques to help control anxiety symptoms. If you have depression, your therapist may focus on identifying negative thinking patterns and helping you change them. CBT is one of the most effective treatments for anxiety and depression, so it’s crucial to find a therapist specializing in this type of therapy.

Learn More About Anxiety and Depression Treatment at Promises Behavioral Health

Anxiety and depression can be frightening to deal with alone, but many treatment courses are available. Contact Promises Behavioral Health to start your anxiety or depression treatment plan. Call 844.875.5609 today to schedule your appointment.