Anxiety vs. Depression

Panic Attack

While it is not uncommon to hear people use the terms “anxiety” and “depression” interchangeably, these are actually two different conditions.

The two have overlapping symptoms and the unfortunate reality is they are often comorbid, meaning they often show up together. The National Alliance on Mental Illness estimates that 60% of people who have an anxiety disorder will also experience depression. Another study reported that nearly half of people with major depressive disorder also had histories of one or more anxiety disorders.

This side-by-side comparison may help illuminate some of the differences between anxiety and depression.

Depression

  • Ongoing sadness or hopelessness — more than just “the blues”
  • Reduced or increased appetite
  • Irregular sleep, either too much or too little
  • Seemingly constant lack of energy
  • Recurring suicidal thoughts or attempts
  • Mental fog, including difficulty thinking or concentrating

Anxiety

  • Worrying excessively or feeling anxious out of proportion to actual events
  • Inability to stop worrying
  • Feeling constantly jittery or on edge
  • Feeling overwhelmed by making choices
  • Trouble concentrating
  • Fatigue and difficulty sleeping
  • Nervousness
  • Irritability

Between different kinds of therapy and medication, there are many ways to treat anxiety and depression. If you have been experiencing some of these symptoms for more than two weeks, and they have caused a change in your level of functioning or are interfering with your life, you should speak to your doctor. If at any time you experience suicidal thoughts, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 or visit suicidepreventionlifeline.org to chat with someone who can help you immediately.

RESOURCES:

What Is Depression? (psychiatry.org)
Depression (major depressive disorder) – Symptoms and causes – Mayo Clinic
The Critical Relationship Between Anxiety and Depression | American Journal of Psychiatry (psychiatryonline.org)
The Comorbidity of Anxiety and Depression | NAMI: National Alliance on Mental Illness