Anxiety or Depression?

Anxiety or Depression?
March 29 08:17 2017

Over 50 million people suffer from stress, depression and anxiety per year, and that is just in the USA alone! The numbers are even greater in other places like Europe. Of these people suffering from depression and or anxiety, whether diagnosed or not, a good number of them are almost always not sure if they are suffering from depression, anxiety or an association of both. In fact, many people are always asking about the differences that exist between then two conditions. In order to manage and treat either of the two conditions, it is essential to know the important differences between anxiety and depression.


Understanding anxiety and depression

The two conditions depression and anxiety are easily confused with each by many people. Many people think the two conditions are similar but the differences that exist between them are quite vast. Most probably the reason why the two conditions are often confused with each other is that they are usually treated in a similar manner with the same medications and therapy. According to statistics released by PyschCentral, 85% of people diagnosed with extreme depression are also diagnosed with anxiety, this could also lead to the belief that the two disorders are the same.


The relation between depression and anxiety 

Usually depression comes from the pressures and situations people go through in life, as work and life push them, they are made to subdue a lot of pressure in their minds and body, because of this situation that the body finds itself in, it responds by releasing a stress hormone called adrenaline. The presence of adrenaline in the blood for an extended period of time causes depression, fast beating of the heart and a whole lot of other effects immediately follow suite.

Such a situation eventually leads to what is called anxiety. Anxiety is when the mind begins to worry, and that worry is projected to the rest of the body. Worrying too much or being over anxious about something often leads to serious body effects like chest pains, shortness of breath, dizziness and eventually a panic attack.

Now that there is a better understanding of what depression and anxiety is and how it comes about, these are the most common causes of depression and anxiety:

  • Moving to a new place or country
  • Starting a new school or job
  • Financial problems
  • Troubles at school or work
  • Having an illness or injury
  • The death of a family member or close friend
  • Getting married and starting a family


 How to identify depression and anxiety syndromes?

There are many ways that depression and anxiety can manifest in an individual, as you may already know, people are different so the way stress impacts lives may differ a lot. Some people can find themselves in super depressive states and even contemplate suicide, some may project on the rest of the body leading to symptoms like diarrhea and vomiting. Here is a short guideline list of the most common signs of depression and anxiety:


Signs of depression

A person a depression problem shows different behavioral patterns as compared to anxiety. Rather than worry about what will happen in the future as with anxiety, a person suffering from depression will show the following signs:

  • Feelings of sadness
  • Feelings of hopelessness
  • Lack of interest in the things that they used to find enjoyable and interesting
  • Physical body pains without any known physical cause
  • Challenges with concentration and or making decisions
  • Problems with appetite which can eventually cause weight loss or gain
  • Changes in sleeping patterns
  • Decrease in sexual desire
  • Altered job performance
  • Frequent infections
  • Social attitudes
  • Tentative of suicide


The signs of depression described above may not all be present, usually they appear gradually with suicide thoughts being the most severe state of depression.


Signs of anxiety

Contrary to Depression, Anxiety is characterized by thoughts of the future. It is usually a fear of future events which brings about a sense of doubt and vulnerability. Anxiety can range from mild to severe, various symptoms project upon the body according to the severity of the anxiety disorder. The following symptoms may be present in an individual suffering from an anxiety disorder:

  • Increased pulse rate
  • Fast heartbeat
  • Palpitations
  • Sweating
  • Trebling and twitching
  • Panic attacks
  • Trembling and twitching


Differentiating between depression and anxiety

From the information discussed above, it becomes easy to differentiate between depression and anxiety. The important differences between depression and anxiety include:

  • In cases of depression, the person in question generally feels emotions of hopelessness accompanied with despair and eventually anger depending on the state of the depression. When a person is in this state their normal life is impaired and they are not able to live and do things that they normally would be doing. In anxiety disorders though, there are strong feelings of fear which leads to panicking in extreme cases.
  • In anxiety disorders, thoughts of the future are the primary focus. Some specialists describe it as the fear of prospects, generally a person suffering from anxiety attacks has strong feelings that an upcoming event is going to turn out badly. This causes them to enter into a state of panic if the condition is not managed. Depression on the other hand is caused by past events that trouble the mind and cause negative attitudes and behavioral changes. The only similarity in the two circumstances is that the person’s ability to socialize, work and enjoy life is affected.
  • There are also differences in physical manifestations of the two conditions on the body. People suffering from depression tend to experience appetite changes, body aches and pain, sleep disorders and sexual disinterest. People suffering from anxiety on the other hand experience increased heartbeat and pulse rate, heavy breathing, palpitations, sweating, and trembling.
  • Depression has severe mental manifestations and fewer physical symptoms while anxiety has severe physical symptoms with mild mental manifestations.


Can the two disorders, depression and anxiety exist at the same time?

The simple answer would be no, the two can not exist exactly at the same time but it is a bit more complicated than that. A person can suffer from one of either depression or anxiety and then have that one condition develop into the other. It is also possible to suffer from conditions alternatively, one after the other. This is a disorder called Bipolar.


Bipolar Disorder

Bipolar disorder is a condition that involves both depression and anxiety but not really at the same time. It is a mood disorder characterized by involuntary mood shifts from high moods to low. The mood changes can be triggered by events or situations, sometimes they can happen very suddenly with no known trigger.

When a bipolar person is in a high mood they tend experience racing thoughts, unusually high levels of energy with poor judgment accompanied by less need of sleep. They also have very high levels of enthusiasm and positive attitudes. They speak very fast and adopt an impulsive behavior.

When the mood swing occurs, you find the exact same person in a state of depression as described earlier on.


How to cope with depression and anxiety

Treatment for depression and anxiety is often the same. To manage depression, anxiety or both, the following treatment methods may be applied:

  • Cognitive-behavioral therapy           

Cognitive-behavioral therapy works as a preventive measure, control measure and curative measure. It is often used in treating anxiety disorder that is associated with depression. In cognitive-behavioral therapy, patients are taught and trained to manage their thoughts and fears, and control their minds to avoid or relive symptoms related to both anxiety and depression.

Part of the treatment involves uncovering the causes of the disorder that is affecting them. By uncovering the cause, both depression and anxiety can be controlled.

  • Antidepressant medications

Antidepressant medications can be used to manage both depression and anxiety. Most of the times, antidepressants are prescribed together with cognitive-behavioral therapy, used in association the two treatment methods are very efficient in managing both depression and anxiety.

  • Prescribing exercise

Exercise is known to release what are known as feel good chemicals in the body and mind. These chemicals can help the mind relax and be at ease there by controlling symptoms of depression and anxiety. Exercise can range from taking walks to working out, and playing sports.

  • Relaxation techniques

Relaxation techniques like meditation and yoga can be prescribed to ease signs and symptoms of both depression and anxiety.

So in conclusion, there are big differences between depression and anxiety in terms of causes and symptoms but the two conditions are often related and treated together. It is possible to find someone who suffers from both depression and anxiety constantly, one disorder after the other. Knowing the symptoms of each disorder and seeking professional attention is an important part of managing the two disorders.


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