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June 11, 2019

Understanding the Difference Between Anxiety and Depression

Two of the mental health conditions that most people are aware of are anxiety and depression. However, when asked to explain the difference between the two, some people are at a loss. This is due in large part to the fact that there are many symptoms that overlap. Also, many people with depression are also diagnosed with anxiety and vice versa.

So how does one know how to make a distinction between the two? In order to answer this question, it is necessary to understand exactly what each of these disorders are and then make a comparison between the two.


What is depression?

A person with depression, which is often diagnosed as “major depressive disorder,” is determined by a mental health professional such as a psychologist or psychiatrist. The disorder is diagnosed by observing whether or not certain symptoms are present. Some common symptoms of the disease are depressed mood, changes in appetite, sleep disturbances and an inability for a person to enjoy activities that they enjoyed in the past.

If a patient has experienced five or more of the symptoms of depression over a period of 2 weeks or more, the clinician may render a diagnosis of depression. These symptoms could also result in a diagnosis of similar mood disorders such as bipolar disorder, dysthymia and premenstrual dysphoric disorder.


What is anxiety?

Anxiety is characterized by many psychiatric symptoms. Some of these include excessive worrying, trouble sleeping, irritability, muscle tension and restlessness. People who experience several symptoms of anxiety nearly every day for over 6 months are likely to be diagnosed with generalized anxiety disorder. Other possible diagnoses also include panic disorder, various types of phobias and separation anxiety.


How do the two disorders differ from each other?

One will notice some similar symptoms for both conditions, including sleep disturbances, trouble concentrating, fatigue and irritability. However, people who have anxiety don’t have a tendency to move slowly or exhibit a melancholy mood. People with anxiety will tend to be more keyed up. Also, depressed people will tend to have dull reactions and are not plagued with worry about the future. In any case, in order to really be sure if a person is afflicted with a psychiatric disorder, it is important to consult a professional.


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