What is the Difference Between Anxiety and Depression?
I’ve helped many people suffering from anxiety learn to recover from their symptoms, using both psychotherapy and psychopharmacology.
The first step, which sometimes is the most difficult one, is to diagnose the condition, because most of the times, even the patient doesn’t really know what’s happening with himself. That’s why we have developed a rating scale in order to simplify the feelings and experiences that the patient is developing and causes the discomfort to him.
Patients are invited to take one sample of this test and complete it quietly at home, so they can give it back to the Clínica San Felipe if they want it to be assessed by the psychiatrist.The test is a revealing way to understand your disorder more and get started on treatment as soon as possible, so you will increased the possibilities of a successful treatment.
As all of we know, treating Mental health is not easy because the truth is that many disorders have a great deal of overlap, which can make it fairly difficult to differentiate between two separatemédicas condigions. And from my own professional experience, the most important is to start from the correct diagnose in order to apply the proper treatment.
One of the most common issues that my patients ask to me in my surgery is the difference between anxiety and depression. While the two disorders share a lot in common, they are separate conditions, and to understand this, could be the key factor in the development of a successful plan of treatment.The best way to understand the difference between the two disorders is with the primary symptoms, starting with the mental symptoms. And I’m going to resume them as the psychiatrist do with the international list of symptoms, assisted by the World Health Organization.
A) Excessive anxiety and worry (apprehensive expectation), occurring more days than not for at least 6 months, about a number of events or activities (such as work or school performance).
B) The person finds it difficult to control the worry.
C) The anxiety and worry are associated with three (or more) of the following six symptoms (with at least some symptoms present for more days than not for the past 6 months). Note: Only one item is required in children.
(1) restlessness or feeling keyed up or on edge
(2) being easily fatigued
(3) difficulty concentrating or mind going blank
(5) muscle tension
(6) sleep disturbance (difficulty falling or staying asleep, or restless unsatisfying sleep)
Apprehension over what’s about to happen and what could happen in the future.
Worried thoughts, or a belief that something could go wrong.
Feeling like you need to run away or avoid things that could cause further anxiety.
Feeling of sadness about the future, as though it’s hopeless.
Listlessness, and a lack of belief that positive things will occur.
Little worry, but instead a certainty of future negative emotions. Possible suicidal thoughts.
Those with anxiety often find themselves feeling like something bad might happen and they’re worried it will. Those with depression often assume a bad future and don’t expect anything else or think there’s anything worth preventing.
Depression can occur after someone experiences anxiety, because someone that deals with severe anxiety may end up feeling drained and hopeless once their anxiety or anxiety attack is over. That’s why the two conditions can be difficult to tell apart. Similarly, those with depression can still fear certain things getting worse, despite already being of the belief that the future is less positive or bright.
Physical symptoms can be very different as well. Though again, there are similarities. Both anxiety and depression can leave you feeling drained and fatigued. But in the case of anxiety, it tends to occur after intense anxiety, while with depression it tends to be more constant, without necessarily any triggers. Other physical symptoms include:
Fight or flight response symptoms, such as shaking, sweating, feeling the need to run or move.
Physical symptoms that resemble health disorders, especially if accompanied with health worries.
Fast heart rate, bowel issues, hyperventilation, and other «energy» causing symptoms.
Severe lack of energy or drive.
Flat affect (complete lack of emotion) along with slowed thinking and behaviors.
Severe appetite changes, headaches, and sleep problems.
Depression actually tends to have fewer physical symptoms, but the mental symptoms can be so dangerous (especially the potential for suicidal thoughts) and the lack of energy so pronounced that many people with depression deal with intense struggles daily that certainly rival the symptoms of anxiety.
How to Tell the Difference Between Mania and Anxiety
Depression isn’t just a single condition. Bipolar disorder, for example, can also cause what’s known as «mania,» which is a period of pronounced, intense energy that can also come with what resembles anxiety symptoms. But the two are also easy to differentiate, because mania also comes with a feeling of euphoria – something that anxiety rarely has.
Commonalities Between Anxiety and Depression
One of the reasons that the two have a great deal in common is because both cause changes in neurotransmitter function – especially serotonin. Low serotonin levels play a role in both anxiety and depression. Dopamine and epinephrine play a role in both as well.
Because of these shared neurotransmitters, they can also share symptoms, and the two can contribute to the development of each other. The most common is anxiety eventually causing depression. Poor coping combined with intense anxiety symptoms can commonly lead to a feeling of hopelessness that creates depressive symptoms, and when left unchecked it’s possible that the depression becomes more severe.
It’s also important to note that both anxiety and depression – because of the neurotransmitters involved – can feel natural, and thus both often do not receive adequate treatment. Someone with depression rarely thinks to themselves «I have depression» because their mind genuinely believes the emotions they feel are «true.» Someone with anxiety often feels the same way, though with anxiety people are a bit more prone to realize they have a problem.
They Also Share the Ability to Recover
The good news is that both are incredibly treatable. Research has developed ample ways to ensure that you’re able to control and even cure both anxiety and depression, provided you make the commitment to improving your mental health in the long term. No matter how hopeless it may feel, there are actual, effective ways to improve your mental health in the long term, provided you’re prepared for a few bumps that may occur along the way.
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Dr Antonio J Gomis Devesa
Medicina del Sueño
Licenciatura de Medicina y Cirugía en la Universidad de Valencia
Medicina del Sueño, Neurofisiología Clínica y Medicina del Trabajo
Cursó su periodo de formación como especialista en Neurofisiología Clínica y Medicina del Sueño en el Hospital General Universitario de Castellón. Al mismo tiempo se formó como especialista en Medicina del Trabajo en la Universidad Miguel Hernández de Elche entre los años 2003 y 2006. Ha trabajado compaginando sus dos especialidades médicas desde que finalizó sus periodos de formación en distintos hospitales y mutuas del trabajo. Además, es Experto Universitario en Medicina Psicosomática por la Universidad de Alcalá de Henares y Magister en Medicina Naturista y Homeopatía por la Universidad de Valencia.
Ha participado en numerosas publicaciones de artículos científicos tanto en revistas de ámbito nacional como internacional en el campo de la Medicina del Sueño, así como en congresos nacionales e internacionales como ponente en multitud de ponencias científicas. Además es Profesor