What Are The Main Differences Between Depression and Anxiety?

Anxiety is a generic expression for numerous maladies that cause edginess, panic, angst, and distress. These symptoms get in the way of the way one lives their daily lives and can be debilitating if not checked early. Anxiety is not a simple disorder. It exhibits itself in myriads of different ways.


Any person experiences anxiety before many situations spanning from attending an interview, to taking a test or anything challenging, but anxiety at a higher level is when it interferes with daily routine living and restricts normal living, by causing sleep disorder, or inability to face any situations or with a lack of appetite.


What are the different types of Anxiety?


1: Generalized Anxiety Disorder

The most common type of anxiety is GAD. This is the most prevalent one in the society, affecting tens of millions of people throughout the world.


GAD is symptomized as a continuing state of psychological and/or physiological nervousness and tenseness, usually without a precise cause and with perpetuity.

In other words, if you feel yourself constantly on edge, worried, anxious, or stressed (either physically or mentally) and it’s disrupting your life, you may have generalized anxiety disorder.


2: Social Phobia

This is an unfounded fear of social situations. Shyness in public is a normal phenomenon, but when it stretches to an anxiety that is present in everyday living, while speaking up for the most basic of things, it is a cause for concern.  This leads to an obsessive behavior where one is constantly living with a perpetual fear of being judged. People with social phobia display evasive behaviors. They avoid social gatherings and situations to avoid being judged.


3: Panic Disorder

Panic disorder can be debilitating and causes severe anxiety. This is so severe that it may need hospitalization and treatment. Panic attacks can have symptoms like rapid palpitations, cold flushes after perfuse dizziness and even at times trouble breathing.


There is an eternal sense of doom attached to panic attack and this means that the person experiencing this type anxiety needs to seek medical help.


4: Agoraphobia


The fear of losing control makes the person to just stay indoors and it sets into an anxiety disorder where one cannot step out. Sometimes this is caused after a traumatic event where they have experienced something like an accident or seen a gunfire exchange etc.  That fear manifests itself into a constant need to stay indoors in the blind belief of protection.


Some of the more usual symptoms include:

Fear of socializing that is almost causes an obsession. Severe stress in any environment other than home. Even a basic routing like going to a grocery store causes severe anxiety.


5: Specific Phobias


Some people have a specific anxiety disorder for specific things like closeness of space like claustrophobia, or fear of spiders called arachnophobia. People avoid these situations and can go their entire life without taking any medical treatment.


6: Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

When a human being has been through a very traumatic experience like a near death experience or seen some one die, it causes a lot of posttraumatic anxiety.  This anxiety affects the people going through it when:


  • The person relives the traumatic situation- This can mentally and physically transpose them to that point and debilitate them.
  • A trigger in that memory – like a noise or a scent can transpose them and create anxiety.
  • The fear of the episode recurring



7: Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD)

Obsessive-compulsive disorder, or OCD, can be a disparaging disorder. People with OCD often exhibit behaviors that can complicate the lives of themselves as well as the ones around them.

The obsessive behavior is thought based while the compulsive behavior is behavior based.

For example an obsessive behavior is that you feel one may lose the job and the compulsive behavior is to knock of wood every time one thinks about the job.

When these habits become more obsessive that people around them are also

affected, it requires some medical help.


What is Depression?

 Depression is an advanced depressive syndrome, which is very treatable.

Depression symptoms swing from minor to severe and include:

  • Feeling a sense of sadness and helplessness leading to a depressed outlook.
  • A sudden loss of interest even in things that used to excite a person
  • A swing in the eating patterns- either not feeling the interest to tempt the palate or binge eating to keep oneself from thinking
  • Insomnia or over sleep.
  • A sense of fatigue in everyday life with very little energy
  • A feeling of unworthiness and sometimes even guilt
  • Difficulty in concentrating and making decisions
  • Thoughts of death or suicide



What are the different types of depression?

 Major Depression

When a person is depressed most of the time and all the symptoms, or at least most of them begin to affect their everyday life.  Usually if 3-4 of these symptoms persist it would be termed as major depression.


This type like all other types need medical attention. The common treatment for this would be

Electroconvulsive therapy (ECT)

Repetitive trans cranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS)

The former uses electrical pulses and the latter uses magnetic stimulation to stimulate certain parts of the brain to push it into better activity mode.


Persistent Depressive Disorder

 When a person is suffering for more than a couple of years of depression, it is termed as Persistent Depressive Disorder.

The specific symptoms for this would be

  • A severe change in the eating pattern- either eating too much or too little
  • Lack of energy and incessant fatigue
  • Too much or too little sleep
  • A low self esteem with a feeling of hopelessness

The treatment of this type would either be psychotherapy, medications including antidepressants or both.


Bipolar Disorder

 These people who suffer from Bipolar disorder have severe mood swings. They have extreme energy at times and are really happy, and switch to excessive low moods and low self-esteem.

The low depression is treated with anti depressants like other dis orders. The high phase may be treated with Lithium stabilizers to bring down the mood.


Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)

 This is common during the winter months, typically due to lack of sunlight. But goes away once spring comes in.  This is a period of major depression that most often happens during the winter months, when the days grow short and you get less and less sunlight. It typically goes away in the spring and summer.

If you have SAD, antidepressants can help. So can light therapy. You’ll need to sit in front of a special bright light box for about 15-30 minutes each day. One recommended therapy for this disorder is the SAD lamp which emits rays much like the sunlight.


Psychotic Depression

People with psychotic depression are very like major depression along with “psychotic” symptoms, such as- Hallucinations, Delusions, Paranoia.

The treatment includes antidepressant and antipsychotic drugs and ECT therapy.


Peripartum (Postpartum) Depression and Premenstrual Depression. This is a typical depression women go through after pregnancy, or during their regular mensuration cycle. The former is due to the exhaustion and sleepless nights as much as the hormonal changers. This is usually short-lived and with counseling it can be cured. But in server cases it requires some medication.



What are the different forms of treatment for Anxiety and Depression?

 Anxiety disorders and depression are correctable, and a huge margin of people can be assisted with expert attention.

The time duration varies from person to person as does the success rate. Sometimes when people are suffering from more than one disorder there is more of an issue in curing it.

Different methods of therapy is prescribed to the person according to the intensity and the type of anxiety or if it has progressed to a depression.  Some types are:


Cognitive-Behavior Therapy

It centers on recognizing, accepting, and altering thinking and behavior patterns. Benefits take about in 12 to 16 weeks to set in. Patients learn skills and are asked to repeatedly practice them.



People are exposed in different intensities to objects and situations they are afraid of, and then they begin the situations slowly.  Usually used for phobia related anxiety.


Acceptance and Commitment Therapy

The person is asked to view situations in different context and accept the decisions and commit to situations.


Dialectical Behavior Therapy

This uses a lot of meditative therapy with other forms to build up acceptance and calmness.



Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRIs)- This medication improves the moods of people, while producing lesser side effects. However it has its own set of side effects like sexual dysfunction and insomnia.

The serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitor, or SNRI, class (venlafaxine and duloxetine) used for general anxiety disorder. It increases the mood in a positive way and Side effects include stomach upset, insomnia, headache, sexual dysfunction, and minor increase in blood pressure.


This class of drugs used only for a short term. Benzodiazepines (alprazolam, clonazepam, diazepam, and lorazepam) are extremely successful in stimulating relaxation and decreasing muscular tension. Long-term use can increase dependence.

Tricyclic Antidepressants

For long term use this is the prescribed medication. (amitriptyline, imipramine, and nortriptyline). Although effective it has a lot of side effects like hypotension, constipation, urinary issues, blurry vision etc.

Transcranial magnetic stimulation

Also called TMS, is non invasive as well as safe. It uses magnetic fields to stimulate the parts of the brain that are slow or non-responsive.

Alternative Therapy

Sometimes other methods like yoga or acupuncture is prescribed to the people for people having modest anxiety and need to handle the stress.


 What is the difference between anxiety and depression?


Even though both anxiety and depression have a lot of commonalities in their symptoms, they are different disorders and have different forms of treatment. It is common for people who are experiencing depression to have some level of anxiety.


Many people who have depression also have a past of an anxiety disorder sometime n life. There is no evidence that one causes the other disorder, there is more evidence to prove that depression is a more compound form of anxiety.



About the Author: Matt Bailey is a noted writer, content marketer and Social Strategist. 

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