Many people struggle with depression, anxiety, or both. These two disorders are some of the most common and often co-occur. Anxiety and depression can fuel each other in an unhealthy cycle if left untreated, which is likely why many people have trouble distinguishing these conditions. The symptoms of both are similar and, at times, overlap. However, depending on the person, they may not be treated in the same way.

Let’s take a closer look at some of the ways depression and anxiety overlap, how they differ, and how they can be treated.

What Are the Symptoms of Depression?

It’s easier to tell depression and anxiety apart when you understand the specific symptoms of these disorders. The most common depression symptoms are:

  • Pervasive sadness or hopelessness
  • Loss of interest in hobbies or other activities you enjoy
  • An increase or decrease in appetite
  • Sleep issues such as insomnia or constantly feeling tired
  • Lack of energy
  • Difficulty concentrating on school or work tasks
  • Thoughts of self-harm

A diagnosis of clinical depression occurs when a patient experiences a combination of these symptoms for at least two weeks or longer.

What Are the Symptoms of an Anxiety Disorder?

The most common symptoms of an anxiety disorder are:

  • Excessive worry or fear about things that may not happen
  • Restlessness or difficulty relaxing, falling asleep
  • Chronic fatigue
  • Difficulty concentrating on work or school-related tasks
  • Panic attacks
  • Muscle tension, particularly in the jaw or shoulders

Anxiety disorder is diagnosed after experiencing a combination of these symptoms for at least six months or longer. When anxiety disrupts an individual’s ability to function normally in daily life, it may be a sign that they are struggling with an anxiety disorder.

What Are the Differences Between Depression and Anxiety?

Anxiety is characterized as general fear or apprehension about what could happen in the future. Sometimes that fear has a direct cause, such as the fear of having a car accident after recently experiencing one. But generalized anxiety disorder doesn’t always require a “reason” for the anxiety beyond genetics or neurological issues.

Depression is characterized as pervasive sadness or hopelessness that does not have to be linked to a specific cause. It, too, is caused by complex genetic and neurological factors. Both can be treated with medication, therapy, lifestyle changes, or a combination of these.

The overlap comes into play when anxiety attacks fuel depressive thoughts or feelings of hopelessness. Anxiety can worsen when a depressed mind agonizes about the future. In both circumstances, a tired, “drained” feeling is familiar.

Still, there are notable differences between the two conditions. For example, a clinically depressed patient may move slower due to dulled reactions and emotions. Because anxiety disorder fuels panic, someone with an anxiety disorder may experience bursts of energy if they feel emotionally “worked up” by racing thoughts.

While pervasive fear can be present in both depression and anxiety patients, those with just depression may not worry about the future because they believe that things will continue as they are. In other words, they do not think change is possible. By contrast, the person with anxiety may imagine several different possible scenarios, which fuels the feeling of panic. The future is not determined by bleak feelings of hopelessness but rather by how they feel in a given moment.

What Does Depression Treatment Look Like?

No matter how hopeless a depressed person may feel, their condition is treatable. Sometimes the most challenging part is mustering the energy to make the phone call to a doctor and show up for the appointment. While the treatment may take a few tries to get right, we can confidently assure you that reaching out for help is worth it. After an initial intake of your medical history, we may recommend a combination of medication and therapies.

For those who may not respond well to medication, lifestyle changes such as getting outside or exercising regularly can also help relieve depression symptoms. Mental health experts say that a combination of therapy and lifestyle changes, such as regular exercise, can be just as effective as antidepressants alone. Exercise provides endorphins, and therapy helps identify depressive causes and triggers.

A therapist will also help you develop skills to combat depression symptoms. Many people with depression find it highly beneficial to simply have a licensed professional validate feelings and offer encouragement when achieving small goals in your healing journey.

What Does Anxiety Treatment Look Like?

A combination of counseling and medication has been shown to help most patients with anxiety disorders. However, not everyone responds positively to medicines, so your doctor may tweak the dosage a few times to get it right or recommend a few different types before you find the right one.

There is no “one size fits all” approach to treating anxiety disorder. Many people find it helpful to discuss their fears and anxious thoughts in the safety and privacy of a therapist’s office, while others find it beneficial to make lifestyle changes. Incorporating regular exercise into your daily routine is one such example. No matter what treatment plan works best for you, most people who reach out for help with anxiety report positive changes and are overall healthier and happier.

At Crownview Co-Occurring Institute in Oceanside, California, we understand that whether you have anxiety, depression, or both, reaching out for help can be the most challenging part of healing. Our licensed, compassionate therapists are well equipped to work with you to find solutions that work for your circumstances and lifestyle. With therapy or medication, or both, we can help you combat the symptoms of anxiety and depression. Having the right coping skills is one of the most critical tools in a depressed or anxious person’s arsenal. We have helped hundreds of patients with anxiety disorder and clinical depression manage their symptoms in healthy ways to experience happiness and thrive. To learn more about our services, you can call us today at 760.433.4357. Because we recognize that phone calls are intimidating for some, we also offer a contact feature on our website to book your appointment.

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