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Anxiety vs Depression: What's the Difference and How to Deal with Them?

Anxiety vs Depression: What's the Difference and How to Deal with Them?
From Lifehack - April 6, 2018

Mental health awareness has come a long way in the past few years. Yet whilst anxiety, depression and the like are talked about far more now than they ever were, most conversations on the subject seem to lump all mental health issues together. The truth is that despite the tone adopted by any number of articles on the subject, anxiety and depression are not two interchangeable words to describe the same thing.Mental health awareness has come a long way in the past few years. Yet whilst anxiety, depression and the like are talked about far more now than they ever were, most conversations on the subject seem to lump all mental health issues together. The truth is that despite the tone adopted by any number of articles on the subject, anxiety and depression are not two interchangeable words to describe the same thing.

Its possible to have anxiety and depression at the same time. Its even possible that one could lead to the other. Yet thats not always the case. Its increasingly frustrating for those trying to get to the heart of their struggles and eventually get them under control.

Today, Ill eliminate those frustrations for good by answering the key questions you have about anxiety, depression, and their relationship with one another.

Anxietywhen fight or flight goes awry

Believe it or not, a certain level of anxiety is actually helpful.

Left over from our days spent roaming the land as primitive cavemen, when every turn presented a possible threat to our existence, anxiety can prove useful in keeping us alert and focused, and in triggering a fight, flight, or freeze response when confronted with actual danger.

Healthy anxiety can be the bodys way of telling us to run the heck out of a burning building or, for a less extreme example, to bunker down and study hard if weve got a big test coming up.

Where anxiety becomes a problem, however, is when that fight, flight, or freeze response is triggered when no real danger exists, or at when said danger isnt nearly as severe as the level of anxiety would seem to suggest.

Thats certainly not to say that those suffering from anxiety are over-reacting or that there isnt a genuine problem. Rather, its that the situation triggers anxiety to such an intense level that, instead of being helpful, it becomes crippling.

Take our earlier example of having an important test on the horizon. Again, a healthy level of anxiety might remind us that this is important and that wed better study. However, our anxiety levels were too high, this could be so debilitating that not only does it prevent us from studying effectively (thus increasing the likelihood that we fail the test, thus, in turn, increasing the likelihood that well be even more anxious about future tests) but create all manner of symptoms that stop us from functioning normally.

This is when we find ourselves with an anxiety disorder, a serious -albeit treatable- condition that can cause any number of symptoms, including:

Depressionthe lowest of lows

Contrary to what some may believe or have told you, depression is just feeling a bit unhappy every now and again, its a prolonged and mostly persistent sense of being severely low, often to the point that those going through a bout of depression will lose all sense of pleasure from things they previously enjoyed.

Whereas the world can seem very intense and relentless for someone dealing with anxiety, depression often makes the world seem slow, grey and miserable.

Such is the varying extent to which depression affects people that it would take (indeed, has taken) whole books to adequately describe all the ways that it could manifest itself in someone.

At one end of the scale, for example, you may experience depression as low mood, a loss of motivation and a general feeling of lethargy, whilst at the extreme end of the scale, you may experience severe symptoms such as a complete lack of hope and even suicidal thoughts.

That said, there are some common symptoms that may be familiar to many people suffering from depression. These include:

The links between depression and anxiety

Though its important to remember that anxiety and depression are not the same thing, thats not to say that the two dont occasionally cross paths.

Its not uncommon for anxiety to ultimately cause depression.

All that tension, panic, and being constantly on edge can be severely draining, leaving a person feeling lethargic and hopeless. Its not uncommon for a bout of depression to follow on from a period of anxiety.

Even more common is experiencing anxiety and depression together, a dual blow that can be paralysing for those who suffer from it.

Though even the best medical experts have been unable to offer a concrete explanation as to why, it is often observed that not only do depression and anxiety disorders frequently occur together, but that when they do, their symptoms are often more extreme than in people who only suffer from one or the other.

The differences between depression and anxiety

Despite an overlap in the symptoms of both conditions -especially when they occur at the same time- there are a few noticeable differences between anxiety and depression.

What to do if youre suffering from anxiety or depression

1. Get active

2. Try yoga or Tai Chi

3. Breathe deep

4. Eat healthily

5. Reach out

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