Anxiety refers to experiencing feelings of fear, uneasiness, worry or dread. Generally, feelings of anxiety are considered to be normal when appropriate to the situation. However, if anxiety is nearly constant and severe, the condition may be considered a disorder.
Depression is a state of consistently being in a low and sad mood, sometimes accompanied by weight loss, restlessness, insomnia and in worst cases, suicidal tendencies.
Although depression and anxiety can seem to be the same thing, they are not.
Similarities of the Two Disorders
Anxiety can be a symptom of depression. Depression and anxiety can occur at the same time. Both mental conditions can interfere with a person’s general activities, whether they are physical or mental. Some symptoms of anxiety such as insomnia, fatigue, low energy and poor concentration can also be exhibited by a person suffering from depression. Irritability and being easily angered can be exhibited by a person having anxiety attacks or is suffering from depression. Both conditions need to be observed for at least half a year in order to make a diagnosis.
Differences Between the Two
There are symptoms of the two conditions that set one apart from the other.
Anxiety stems from extreme fear. A depressed person might do things that are exact opposites of what an extremely anxious person does. While a very anxious person is easily alerted or startled, a depressed person will feel less alert and less reactive to anything that is happening around him. He may sometimes be oblivious to whatever is happening and will often wallow in his moods.
Symptoms of anxiety include tension (restlessness and trembling), hyper-vigilance (easily startled, edgy), and a hyperactive nervous system (heart palpitations, lightheadedness, profuse sweating).
In contrast, a person suffering from depression has a decreased response to being startled and experiences slowness of speech and movement. A depressed person also shows extended periods of being sad, agitated or emotionally numb. A depressed person may also show feelings of guilt, low self-confidence, shame, or pessimism. Having suicidal thoughts is a definite sign of being depressed. With regard to core emotion, depression stems from extreme sadness.
Treating Depression and Anxiety
To treat depression or anxiety, or both, therapy or medication will be needed. In some cases, both may be necessary. How effective treatment is depends on whether the patient is diagnosed as having two disorders or only one. In cases where both conditions are diagnosed in the patient, treatment should address depression and anxiety independently in order to be most effective.