Anxiety and depression often appear in such close proximity that some people may think they are the same or always coexist. If you have anxiety, you must also have depression and vice versa. However, this is not always the case. In fact, studies suggest that roughly 50% of people diagnosed with an anxiety disorder have also been diagnosed with clinical depression. Anxiety can be a symptom of depression, but depression is less frequently a symptom of an anxiety disorder. Many people experience one but not the other, and depression is more common in women than men.
While anxiety and depression share a few symptoms such as fatigue, irritability, and difficulty sleeping and concentrating, there are very clear differences between the rest of the symptoms experienced. People dealing with depression often move slowly, feel hopeless about the future, and experience sadness, guilt, shame, anger, or reckless behavior.
People suffering from anxiety are often more keyed-up, struggling to contain their thoughts and worrying about the future. At the moment, it may be hard for people to recognize how they are feeling and whether they are fearful or hopeless about the future, but it is important for them to reach out for help managing their anxiety and depression symptoms and hopefully identifying their triggers.
Another reason why anxiety and depression are so closely linked is that they often have similar treatment plans. Whether you or a loved one has received a medical diagnosis of anxiety or depression or it was a self-diagnosis, you may find it helpful to ask for some clarification about what you are experiencing from your medical doctor or your therapist.
While some medications have been proven to help people experiencing either anxiety or depression or both, talk therapy or other types of therapy provide consistent opportunities for individuals to work through what is going on in a safe space. Counselors and therapists are experienced in helping people struggling with anxiety and depression, and many people notice improvements in their symptoms and overall well-being soon after they begin regular sessions. Many people have found that tracking their daily symptoms and feelings has helped them to better understand their triggers and this is a great resource for their therapist to use as well.
Doctors and therapists will likely also recommend certain lifestyle changes in conjunction with your treatment plan such as a consistent sleep schedule, social support, stress reduction techniques, starting and maintaining a healthy lifestyle, and avoiding alcohol and tobacco consumption. In the absence of healthy lifestyle changes like these, people are more prone to unhealthy coping mechanisms.
Anxiety and depression should not always be treated the same, but the important thing to know is that they are both very treatable. If you or someone you know are struggling with any of life’s difficulties, please reach out.