Anxiety and depression often go hand in hand, and indeed, their symptoms often overlap. However, anxiety and depression are not the same, and it is important to recognize and understand the difference between these two separate conditions.
Symptoms of depression:
Depression is different from occasional sadness. More than a sad feeling or a bad day, depression is a serious and persistent change in perception, mood, and physiology.
Hallmark symptoms of depression include:
- feelings of sadness and hopelessness
- loss of interest in activities one used to enjoy
- change in appetite (increase or decrease)
- inability to sleep or sleeping too much
- worry and restlessness
- feelings of worthlessness or guilt
- thoughts of suicide or attempting suicide
- anger and irritability
Symptoms of anxiety:
We all get worried from time to time but chronic anxiety is different, feels overwhelming, and often occurs without an apparent reason.
Hallmark symptoms of anxiety include:
- persistent excessive worry
- trouble concentrating
- difficulty handling uncertainty
- becoming tired easily
- sleep disturbance
- muscle tension
- stomach problems, nausea, diarrhea, or IBS
These above symptoms are for generalized anxiety. Other anxiety disorders are more specific such as Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder, specific phobias, panic disorder, and social anxiety. To see a full list, click here.
Symptom overlap and treatment
Looking at the above symptoms, you’ll likely see some overlap. Feeling tired, irritable, difficulty sleeping, and changes in appetite are all signs of both disorders. Sometimes both disorders occur together, but other times they don’t. Both anxiety and depression can feel debilitating. However, there is good news: anxiety and depression are treatable.
Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT) is effective for both anxiety and depression. The theory behind CBT is that our thoughts, beliefs, and attitudes govern how we feel and behave. While we cannot control most situations, we can control how we react to them and interpret them. With CBT, we can challenge and restructure negative thinking patterns in order to start feeling better. CBT is consistently demonstrated as one of the most efficient and effective treatment approaches for anxiety and depression. CBT, often combined with medication (prescribed by a psychiatrist), can be an excellent treatment approach.
If you are struggling with anxiety, depression, or both, please know you CAN do something about it. Effective treatment is available and therapy can provide you with the tools to start feeling and living better.