Depression and Anxiety: Differences | Symptoms | Treatments


Whenever we hear about people suffering from mental health problems, the two most common ones we come across are anxiety and depression. We all experience some form of anxiety, i.e. excessive fear or worry, in our lives due to reasons like routine disruptions, just before an exam, before taking a big decision like getting married, on our way to an interview for a job, etc. However, this feeling usually lasts for a few minutes for up to a few hours and often has a positive effect on the mind. Our reflexes tend to get more focused when we are anxious and help us perform well in the task; we are more concerned about.However, a large number of people today suffer from this anxious feeling all the time, and it is difficult for them to control or calm themselves down. This condition is known as anxiety. Persistent anxiety lasts for months or years (if not treated in time), is tiring to the mind, impacts sleep and overall quality of life of the individual. There are different types of anxiety and are grouped under anxiety disorders. Depression, on the other hand, is a mood disorder characterized by sadness or a general loss of interest in routine activities. These feelings may be felt by all of us, but when these feelings last for many months to years, the person is said to be suffering from depression. Depression is believed to be more common in women than in men. The WHO has termed it as the world's most common illness and is said to cause a large number of disabilities too.

What are the Symptoms for Each of Them?

The causes and symptoms of both anxiety and depression can be similar, but the pathology that causes these two mental disorders are different.

Anxiety Symptoms

Being chronically anxious, can be both physically and emotionally exhausting. Common anxiety symptoms are:

  • Chronic fatigue and tiredness
  • Sweating
  • Constantly racing mind
  • Tension in the muscles
  • Grinding of teeth
  • Difficulty in sleeping well
  • Restlessness
  • High heart rate
  • Irritability
  • Always in a state of panic
  • Overtly emotional
  • Gastrointestinal problems such as diarrhoea or constipation

Depression Symptoms

  • Chronic fatigue and feeling tired all the time
  • Changes in appetite
  • Sudden weight loss or weight gain
  • Difficulty in sleeping
  • Vague pains, cramps, aches
  • Inability to focus or concentrate
  • No interest in routine activities and hobbies
  • Constant feelings of hopelessness, sadness, and emptiness
  • Thoughts of having no goal or hope in life
  • Thinking about ending one's life or attempting a suicide

What Causes Anxiety and Depression?

Anxiety and depression do not occur due to any single cause. Both conditions arise due to a complex interplay of multiple reasons.

Anxiety can occur because of:

  • Withdrawal symptoms or drug abuse
  • Trauma during childhood
  • Constant exposure to stressful situations in life such as financial issues, relationship issues, work stress, a bad marriage, growing up with a divorced parent, etc.
  • Other mental illnesses

Depression can occur due to:

  • Genetics
  • Changes in hormonal or neurotransmitter levels inside the brainPsychosocial factors
  • Drug Abuse
  • Sudden major life event
  • Some drugs
  • Childhood trauma

What to do if you suffer from the above symptoms?

One of the first things you must note is that if you feel any of the above symptoms, it is not normal. Feeling upset, sad or anxious once in a while is acceptable but suffering from the above symptoms for days or months at a time may be the first clue that you may be suffering from anxiety or depression, based on your symptoms.

It is advisable that one must contact a psychologist or speak with a loved one to understand why you are feeling these symptoms.

How do you prevent and manage symptoms?

If you are suffering from anxiety, here are a few ways to manage your symptoms and them from showing up again.

Treatment of Anxiety:

Self-Management- In many cases, the individual can control or manage his/her anxiety symptoms by performing relaxation techniques, going for a quick walk or run, talking to a friend or family member, or deliberately avoiding stress-causing situations at home and work.

Counselling/Therapy Sessions- The following standard method of managing anxiety is by opting for counselling or therapy session with a professional that involves determining the trigger factors and developing coping mechanisms for each patient.Medications- There are several medications that are prescribed to help the individual calm down and reduce his/her anxiety. These include antidepressants, tricyclics, benzodiazepines etc.The best way to prevent anxiety is by avoiding trigger factors, staying away from substance abuse and avoiding dependence on medications.

Treatment of Depression:

Just like anxiety, depression is a treatable disorder. Some common ways to treat this condition are:

  • Finding Social support with family or friends
  • Improving lifestyle by eating healthy foods, regular exercises, relaxation techniques and getting good sleep
  • Psychotherapy that involves cognitive behavioural therapy and talking to counsellors
  • Medications

If you have any of the mentioned symptoms for anxiety or depression, then consult a mental health specialist on DocsApp!