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What Is the Difference Between Depression and Anxiety?

Anxiety and depression are among the most common mental health issues.

These mental health conditions can affect nearly every aspect of a person’s life, from their mood to their physical well-being. People with depression or anxiety may struggle to function in their everyday life, often requiring treatment from a therapist.

However, depression and anxiety are not the same things. Read on to learn the difference between depression and anxiety and how to identify each.

What Is Depression?

Depression is a condition causing persistent feelings of sadness or emptiness. There may be a range of causes, such as a traumatic event or biological predisposition. With depression, the negative feelings don’t just go away once things get better—they can linger for weeks, months, or even years.

There are different types of depression, including major depression, persistent depressive disorder, and bipolar disorder. They all share some common signs of depression, including:

  • moodiness and irritability
  • fatigue
  • restlessness
  • trouble sleeping
  • digestive issues
  • a change in appetite
  • loss of interest and motivation

What Is Anxiety?

Anxiety is a condition related to stress and fear. When someone experiences anxiety, they are on constant alert, looking for threats or confirmation of their worries. Some common signs of anxiety include:

  • panic attacks
  • trouble sleeping
  • inability to concentrate
  • obsessive thoughts
  • headaches
  • digestive issues
  • chest pain
  • persistent worrying

Like depression, there are a few different types of anxiety including generalized anxiety disorder, social anxiety, panic disorder, and post-traumatic stress disorder.

Anxiety is often caused by a traumatic event or a lack of stability in life. Having a family member who experiences anxiety may also increase the chances of becoming anxious.

The Difference Between Depression and Anxiety

Depression and anxiety can sometimes co-exist. In other instances, someone may only have either depression or anxiety, yet they experience symptoms that are common for both conditions.

For example, both depression and anxiety can cause:

  • physical discomfort such as headaches and digestive issues
  • rumination
  • negative thought patterns
  • restlessness
  • trouble concentrating
  • inability to carry out daily tasks
  • dread

However, these two mental health conditions aren’t the same. The biggest difference is that depression focuses on sadness or feelings of emptiness, while anxiety focuses on worry and catastrophic thinking.

They also require slightly different treatment. Many therapists, such as these Aetna therapist providers, are trained to treat both depression and anxiety. However, the types of treatments given may differ.

Those with depression may be given anti-depressant medications, as well as talk therapy to discuss depression causes and coping strategies. Patients with anxiety may be treated with behavioral therapies such as CBT, as well as exercises to reduce panic attacks.

What both depression and anxiety have in common is that they shouldn’t be managed alone. Seeking help can be the key to feeling better and getting your life back on track.

Overcome Depression and Anxiety

Depression and anxiety are common mental health conditions, but they aren’t the same. Understanding the difference between depression and anxiety can help you identify which you may have and how to get help.

For more on health and wellness, check out our other articles!

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