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Anxiety vs. Depression: Knowing the Difference

Anxiety vs. Depression: Knowing the Difference

In recent years, we’ve heard people throw around terms like “anxious,” “depressed,” and “panic attacks.” But what do they actually mean?

We live in a world where more attention is being given to mental health and mental illnesses. That doesn’t mean they’re being discussed with the nuance and sensitivity they deserve. One of the most common things I’ve noticed is that people often don’t know the difference between anxiety and depression.

The Relationship between Anxiety and Depression

Anxiety and depression are often mistaken as one because of their shared biological basis. Photo by Noah Buscher on Unsplash

One of the reasons for the confusion is that anxiety and depression share a biological basis. Both are often triggered by low serotonin levels and neurochemical imbalances. The difference lies in how the affected person experiences the effects of these conditions.

Anxiety and depression can also occur sequentially or simultaneously. Some people take this to mean that they are interchangeable. In other cases, people think that if you have one, it’s normal to have the other.

Understanding the Difference in Symptoms

The difference between depression and anxiety are found in their symptoms; the former is marked by thoughts of suicide or death whereas the latter isn’t. Photo by Juan Pablo Serrano Arenas from Pexels

To understand what the difference is between anxiety and depression, you should look into their symptoms. Although anxiety and depression share some symptoms, familiarizing yourself with the differences will help you identify the root cause.

The Symptoms of Anxiety

The symptoms of generalized anxiety disorder affect a person’s emotional and physical state. In some cases, these symptoms became so intense that they are debilitating to the affected person.

  • persistent or excessive worry
  • restlessness or feeling on edge
  • dread or panic
  • high irritability
  • easily fatigued
  • difficulty concentrating
  • short-term memory loss
  • muscle tension
  • chest palpitations
  • sleep difficulties

The Symptoms of Depression

It’s normal to feel down once in a while; it doesn’t necessarily mean you’re depressed. However, there are some symptoms to look out for if you’re worried you’re suffering from a major depressive disorder.

  • loss of interest
  • persistent feelings of sadness
  • hopelessness
  • high irritability or anger
  • feelings of worthlessness or helplessness
  • thoughts of suicide or death
  • changes in weight or appetite
  • decreased energy or easily fatigued
  • sleep difficulties
  • difficulty concentrating or making decisions

If you or anyone you know is suffering from these symptoms, consider calling the National Center for Mental Health Crisis at 0917-899-USAP (8727).

Common Questions about Mental Illnesses

Anxiety is different from being anxious over something; the latter being a normal part of everyday life and the former requiring professional diagnosis. Photo by Arnel Hasanovic on Unsplash

Can you have anxiety but not depression and vice versa?

Yes. The reason anxiety and depression get lumped together is because they have overlapping symptoms. However, just because you’re diagnosed with one doesn’t mean you will get the other in the future.

Is being anxious the same as having anxiety?

No. Feeling anxious is part of life, especially when you have several stressors. However, it doesn’t necessarily mean you have an anxiety disorder. The latter is a legitimate and diagnosable psychiatric condition. If you think your anxiousness could be more than typical worry, consider consulting with a mental health professional.

Do you need to take prescription medication for treatment?

No. Although medication is an option for managing anxiety and treating depression, it is not the only option available. There are several treatment strategies for mental illnesses. It’s a matter of speaking with your doctor and finding the right one for your situation.

Can you cure mental illnesses with a “mind over matter” attitude?

No. Both anxiety and depression are legitimate illnesses. Although most of their symptoms are emotional and mental in nature, both can affect your physical condition and health.

I believe society is past the point of belittling mental health and its illnesses. Now that the conversation has started, it’s our job as Modern Filipinas to steer it toward informative resources and critical thinking.

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