Depression and anxiety are both mental conditions that need proper treatment. The main difference is that while depression involves a persistent low mood and an inability to enjoy previously pleasurable activities, anxiety involves overwhelming feelings of worry and apprehension about everyday situations. While the depressive disorder can lead to suicidal tendencies, anxiety leads to panic attacks, sleeping disorders, constant worrying, and other acute conditions. In this blog post, I will explain the fine line between depression and anxiety, as well as how stigma affects those who suffer from either state.
Learn about different kinds of depression and anxiety
Depression and anxiety are closely related but aren’t the same. Depression is a clinical disorder characterized by feelings of sadness, hopelessness, and exhaustion. Anxiety can be mild or severe, but it’s generally characterized by feelings of stress and worry, often accompanied by physical symptoms like hives, nausea, or muscle tension.
Most people will experience mild anxiety at some point in their lives. The fear of public speaking, for example, is anxiety, as is worrying about making a mistake at work. Many people also experience anxiety around how others perceive them, identified as a social anxiety disorder. Some people — about 8 percent — are diagnosed with a generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), which is characterized by persistent feelings of fear, nervousness, and restlessness.
Anxiety and depression share some of the same risk factors. Both are often caused by a combination of genetics, behavior, and life experiences, like trauma, illness, or injury. Some evidence also points to environmental factors, like exposure to toxins, such as lead and asbestos.
Know what you’re up against and what you need to know
Depression and anxiety are two of the most debilitating conditions you can suffer from. They can interfere with your ability to work, sleep, enjoy social activities, and do anything else you’d do daily. They cause physical ailments, including headaches, stomachaches, and chronic pain. The conditions are so widespread and disruptive that the World Health Organization (WHO) classified them as “serious mental and psychosocial disorders” in 2005.
Without the proper care, depression can last a lifetime. But with the appropriate treatment, depression, and anxiety can often be managed effectively.
Here’s a closer look at depression and anxiety:
Anxiety. This term refers to a wide range of emotional reactions, including stress, fear, and worry. While these feelings are normal and can be helpful at times, anxiety can be debilitating.
Depression. Many people equate depression with sadness, but the condition is much broader than that. Many people who experience depression feel hopeless or helpless, while others experience worthlessness or overwhelming sadness.
Learn how to cope and seek treatment
Depression and anxiety disorders are serious mental illnesses, and many people who struggle with them say that they’ve experienced severe feelings of hopelessness, guilt, and worthlessness.
But right alongside those crippling emotions, many people also experience debilitating physical symptoms, such as fatigue, headaches, stomach problems, and trouble sleeping.
These symptoms can make it difficult to work, care for loved ones or even take care of oneself.
Fortunately, help is available.
People who suffer from depression or anxiety can seek treatment at mental health facilities, which can provide medications and therapy.
Medication for depression. Anti-depressants are the first-line treatment for depression, especially severe cases that don’t respond to psychotherapy and lifestyle changes.
There are lots of types of antidepressants, and each works a little differently. It’s essential to have a treatment plan that considers the medications you’re taking and that your doctor monitors your progress closely.
Psychotherapy for depression. Psychotherapy, or talk therapy, is another type of primary treatment for depression. It can help you learn to manage your thoughts and behaviors in ways that allow you to live a fulfilling life.
Cognitive-behavioral therapy, or CBT, is the most popular type of psychotherapy for depression. It can help you identify your negative thoughts and replace them with positive ones and teach you to challenge your negative beliefs.
Psychotherapy for anxiety disorders. In addition to medications and psychotherapy, many people also turn to psychotherapy for anxiety treatment.
Cognitive-behavioral therapy can help people identify their anxiety triggers and teach them techniques to manage their anxiety.
In addition to CBT, the APA says that exposure therapy, or “exposure and response prevention,” may be a good option for some people with anxiety issues.
Cognitive-Behavioral Approach to Being Depressed
Depression can take many forms, but it is usually characterized by sadness or feeling “down in the dumps” for an extended period. Yet, depression can have serious long-term effects on a person.
Depression has a variety of causes, and, like many other mental health disorders, it can be treated.
Cognitive-behavioral therapy, or CBT, is a type of psychotherapy that is focused on changing behavior. CBT involves analyzing patterns of thinking, feelings, and behaviors and then changing how they relate to a person’s life.
The cognitive-behavioral approach to depression involves changing negative or dysfunctional thoughts, behaviors, and feelings into positive ones. This approach is an effective treatment for depression.
CBT for depression involves working with a therapist to identify and change negative ways of thinking.
For example, people who believe that they are “bad” or “unlovable” might internalize these negative thoughts and feelings.
Through CBT, individuals might challenge these beliefs and replace them with the impression that they are worthy of love or that being inadequate or unworthy isn’t true.
CBT for depression also involves identifying and changing behaviors that may contribute to negative thoughts and feelings.
For example, a person might try to “numb out” their feelings or avoid specific people, places, or activities.
Through CBT, a person may instead learn to identify and deal with uncomfortable feelings, such as sadness or frustration, in productive ways.
CBT for depression is usually short-term, intending to help the patient productively manage symptoms.
However, some people with depression may be unable to overcome their problems through CBT. In those cases, psychiatrists may recommend medication.
A clinical trial has shown that CBT is more effective than medication.
For many people, depression and anxiety are a daily struggle, but with proper care, they can be managed. Complete health is possible for many, so get help when you need it. Our emotions are not well understood, but that doesn’t mean there’s no treatment. Learn the difference between depression and anxiety, as well as how to combat each. It is an important distinction as both these conditions require different forms of treatment. Don’t let mental health issues hold you back. The sooner you seek the help of a professional, the better. You’re not alone. Fortunately, you live in a time when there are some resources to help you cope with these issues.
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