What is the Difference Between Anxiety & Depression?

Anxiety or Depression?
Anxiety or Depression? (Image: "KARPOV THE WRECKED TRAIN" is Copyrighted by Flickr user: karpov the wrecked train (kenny) under the Creative Commons Attribution license.)

Depression is a symptom sometimes experienced by people with anxiety disorders, and anxiety is sometimes a symptom experienced by people with depression. The person experiencing the depression or anxiety often can tell which came first and which is more dominant.

Symptoms Common to Both Anxiety and Depression

There are some common symptoms between those suffering from anxiety and those suffering from depression. They are: difficulty concentrating, agitation, fatigue and difficulty sleeping.

Classic Anxiety Symptoms

Anxiety usually centers around excessive worry that is hard to control. There are often physical symptoms, including shortness of breath, heart palpitations, trembling, choking sensation and more.

Tense (Image: "IMGP2049" is Copyrighted by Flickr user: russelljsmith (Russell James Smith) under the Creative Commons Attribution license.)

Types of Anxiety Disorders

Anxiety disorders often involve panic attacks, like in panic disorder; fears and avoidance of things, people, or situations like in social phobia, agoraphobia and other phobias; and recurrent terrifying thoughts, as in obsessive-compulsive disorder, or flashbacks, like in post-traumatic stress disorder.

Classic Depression Symptoms

Depression usually centers around a depressed mood or loss of interest in all activities that were once pleasurable. This may be accompanied by a noticeable physical change. Some people become keyed up, others look like they are in slow motion. Tearfulness may also be noticed.

Sad (Image: "llorar a lágrima viva" is Copyrighted by Flickr user: nyki_m (Nicole Makauskas) under the Creative Commons Attribution license.)

Other Depression Symptoms

Other classic symptoms of depression include weight loss or gain, too much or too little sleep, feelings of inappropriate guilt and worthlessness and thoughts of death.

Treatment for Anxiety and Depression

Cognitive-behavioral treatment and antidepressant medications are effective for both anxiety and depression. Anti-anxiety medications are often given in addition to antidepressants for anxiety. There are effective, specialized treatments for many of the specific anxiety and depressive disorders.

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  • The American Psychiatric Association's Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 4th Edition
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