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Difference Between Anxiety And Depression And How They Manifest For Someone

Anxiety and depression are generally used synonymously, and very wrongly so. Understanding the difference between anxiety and depression is key to understand how to handle the mental disorders.

difference between anxiety and depression

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Today we will be exploring the differences between anxiety and depression, and how anxiety and stress are not the same thing. Finally, we will be talking about the challenges a person faces if she or he is dealing with both anxiety and depression at the same time.

Suggested read: How It Is For Someone Living With Anxiety: My Story

Stress is something everyone goes through, every now and then. I think we can safely say that there isn’t a single day when we do not feel stressed in one or the other way.  Usual work deadlines, an interview, running late for a meeting; there are a number of reasons minor/major that can cause stress.

So we can say that stress is an integral part of our everyday lives. So how is it different from anxiety. Let’s find out.


Usually, stress is caused by a change. Change makes us feel pressured, because it is the unknown, it is something we feel we are not prepared to handle. That is when we sense the animal in us asking us to fight or flee the scene. This is also popularly called the ‘flight or fight’ response.

When our ancestors lived in the jungles, they had to outrun wild animals to keep themselves safe and alive. Though we don’t live in the wild anymore, our first reaction to an unknown experience is to run away from it.

Stress, in some cases, is caused by outside factors, like the traffic, coping with a difficult roommate, a change in shift at work, etc. It can also be caused by internal factors like an chronically active mind, illogical thinking etc.


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Now here is how stress and anxiety are different: Anxiety is a feeling of stress that continues long after an offending occasion has passed. It is a constant feeling of stress, though the person suffering with anxiety does not seem to be in an obvious stressful situation.

Anxiety gets manifested in the form of an everyday uneasiness. There is constant apprehension and constant fear even about something that has not happened. You feel a pit in your chest and your stomach churns. Though the person might appear financially stable to you, she or he might be constantly apprehensive about her/his finances.

Money concerns are not the only cause of anxiety, however. One can be in a constant state of worry about the people they love, or job security or all the bad things that are happening in society. When anxiety gets out of hand, the person is likely to feel panic attacks.


Let me start by telling you what depression is not, before getting into what it is.

Depression is not sadness. Depression is not a sense of feeling low. It isn’t something that can be treated by developing a stronger will power. It is debilitating. It gnaws at you like a reptile. It feeds on you. It digs a deep pit in your heart, and fills it with feeling of hopelessness. It makes you want to not continue.

The taboo around depression makes it a topic that should only be discussed as something that happens to others. You aren’t supposed to tell your own experience of living with this monster lest everyone thinks you are mad.

It is very human for people to feel low from time to time, but depression is more intense and comes in waves. It can last for weeks, months, and in some cases, even for years.

A person going through depression finds it difficult to function. Ironically, depression is the most common mental illness today, and yet, it is least talked about. According to statistics, one of every five persons in the world suffers from depression at least once in their life.

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There is a relation between stress, anxiety and depression, and can be stated this way:

Generally, stress is followed by anxiety, and anxiety is followed by depression.

This is usually the case, but not always.

Now that we have discussed the difference between anxiety and depression, let’s find out how it is for someone who is suffering from both.

Suggested read: Anxiety Is Love’s Greatest Killer, And Here’s Why

How it is for someone living with both anxiety and depression 

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In many people, anxiety and depression go together.  According to statistics, half of the people diagnosed with depression are anxiety patients.

Depression and anxiety need proper medical attention in order to be treated. The sad news is only a third of the people who are diagnosed with these mental illnesses ever seek help from a counselor or a doctor.

The causes of anxiety and depression are usually life events, but they can also be passed on through the genes.

Going through the two disorders at the same time can be extremely daunting, but you need to remember that it is not impossible to treat them. Repeat with me: It is not impossible.

Explaining your mental struggles to other people s difficult because it is hard for them to understand how one person can be fighting two battles at the same time.

Also a major struggle for people with both anxiety and depression is sleep. Chronic insomnia is a problem some deal with while other have to cope with sleeping too much. What happens with me is at night I cannot sleep because of my anxiety which then triggers panic attacks, and in the morning, I cannot muster the courage to leave the bed because of my depression.

Keeping up with personal relationships is very difficult for people with anxiety and depression. My anxiety, for instance, tells me constantly that I am not good enough to be friends with anybody. Coupled with this is the constant irrational fear of losing people. Since we fear we are going to lose this person eventually, we prefer not be friends with them in the first place.

We are people who will frequently cancel plans, and some people might even consider us flaky, but we are anything but flaky.

With anxiety and depression already bogging us down, managing the stress at work gets really challenging. As we just discussed, depression feels people with a feeling of hopelessness and because of this being excited about new developments or projects at work is difficult. As a person with anxiety, not being jobless does feel great because there is a routine to follow, and that is a stabilizing feeling for an anxious person. However, there is a constant worry about giving one’s best at work, the constant worry of being fired though you are the best employee.

Physical exercise is supposed to be of great help for people with anxiety and depression, but getting oneself motivated to do it is rare. Here’s why: Though my anxiety will try to motivate me to burn off the “bad” energy (manifested in the form of fear), my depression will tell me I am too tired to even open my eyes.

How I combatted this was by doing small workouts at home. I started with stretches, and slowly upping the ante.

For a person with anxiety and depression, taking care of oneself is very important. But these mental conditions discourage you to do that. The depression will make you want to rip your heart out and throw it in the ocean. It will make you neglect yourself. Even showering or doing your own laundry will be a tussle.

Living in a house that is messy will take a toll on your mental health. While your anxiety will force you to clean and fix everything your depression will immobilize you so you cannot get any work done. Being miserable about living in a messy space, but not being able to rally the strength or energy to clean up, feels like you are in a tug of war, where depression and anxiety are pulling you from opposite sides.

Suggested read: 9 ‘Facts’ About Depression That Are As Mythical As Unicorns & Werewolves!

When one is suffering from anxiety, there is this lingering fear that something is going to happen to the people you adore and love. You will continuously worry about your family, your friends, you colleagues, and even the strangers you cross paths with. If you also have depression, then you will not be able to check in with them to see if they are fine. Phone calls are scary and meeting someone in person is out of the question! Here’s the saddest part: Because you do not check in with them, your loved ones think you do not care, but that is far from the truth!

Getting the right combinations for your medications will be a little tough. It will take time and a lot of your patience. But it is important. There is no one pill that will help deal with both the conditions because the two conditions though linked, produce opposite responses, and so, it is a possibility that a pill that reduces your anxiety, worsens your depression. But with help from your doctors and your therapist, you will find the right concoction. Believe. :)

That is a wrap on today’s post on the difference between anxiety and depression. Let us know if you liked what you just read. To give us suggestions, please use the comment section below.

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Article Name
Difference Between Anxiety And Depression And How They Manifest For Someone
Anxiety & depression are NOT synonyms. Let's find out the difference between anxiety and depression, to get a better understanding of both.
Riya Roy

Riya Roy

“If my doctor told me I had only six minutes to live, I wouldn't brood. I'd type a little faster.” This Isaac Asimov line, embraces my love for writing in the finest and most desperate way that it is and should be! I was tormented by the earnestness of the written word not very early in my journey. But once smitten, it has helped me devour life twice over; savoring the moment and indulging in its memories. As a flâneuse, I wander to understand the intricacies of human relationships. Realizing that, they are just different manifestations of the same feeling of love, has been my greatest learning. I seek to share its opulence through the words I type.