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Anxiety And Depression – How To Identify, Differentiate & Treat Them Individually


Do you always feel sad and fail to derive pleasure out of activities that you previously enjoyed? Sounds like depression, isn’t it? Are you anxious and constantly worried about future outcomes? Now, is that anxiety? Anxiety and Depression are not so friendly visitors after all.

It’s absolutely normal to have mood swings and suffer from bouts of depression from time to time, especially if you are going through a rough phase. However, a clinical diagnosis from a professional therapist is always recommended to get the correct diagnosis.

Ask any random person to name two debilitating mental disorders. High chances, they are going to pick anxiety and depression in their first go. These two mental conditions have become commonly talked about topics in the sphere of mental illness. We even struggle to figure out the difference between anxiety and depression.

What Does Anxiety And Depression Mean?

Anxiety can be simply explained as having persistent and uncontrollable stress and worry typically triggered by anticipation of future events. People with anxiety generally live on the extremes and within seconds they picture the worse out of any situation. Ordinary anxiety comes and goes and does not interfere with your everyday life. But anxiety in extreme form can be quite troublesome.

Depression is a mood disorder that involves a prolonged feeling of sadness and loss of interest. With depression, one may even fail to see the point of living altogether. Depression is not something that should be taken casually, and one cannot stop being depressed if he or she wants to. Depression does not work like that. It requires long-term treatment, and people get better with medication and counselling.

What Does Anxiety Feel Like?

What Does Anxiety Feel Like
Picture Credit: Verywellmind.com

Some of the prominent symptoms of anxiety are as follows:

  • Weakness
  • Shortness of breath
  • Rapid heart rate
  • Nausea
  • Restlessness
  • Cold and sweaty hands and feet
  • Dry mouth
  • Tense muscles
  • Hot flashes
  • Dizziness
  • Sleep problems

When it comes to the causes of anxiety, the researchers couldn’t blame a single cause for it but have claimed that a combination of factors is at play. The causes of anxiety may include genetic disposition, brain anomalies, and environmental stress.

What Does Depression Feel Like?

Picture Credit: Verywellmind.com

Depression symptoms may range from mild to severe, and they include:

  • Feeling sad or having a depressed mood
  • Loss of interest or pleasure in activities once enjoyed
  • Changes in appetite
  • Trouble in sleeping or sleeping too much
  • Loss of energy or increased fatigue
  • Increase in purposeless physical activity or slowed movements and speech
  • Feeling worthless or guilty
  • Difficulty thinking, concentrating or making decisions
  • Thoughts of death or suicide

Every 1 in 15 adults experiences depression in any given year. Some of the common causes of depression may include early childhood trauma, brain anomalies, family history, chronic illness or drug abuse. On average, women are more prone to depression. Research studies have emphasised that one-third of women will experience a major depressive episode in their lifetime.

“Aside of the fact that the burden of these disorders is higher among women, fewer women also seek treatment for mental health issues.”

Dr Rajesh Sagar, Professor, Psychiatry, AIIMS.

Do Depression And Anxiety Happen Simultaneously? 

The coexistence of anxiety and depression is clinically called comorbidity. Studies have shown that 60% of those with anxiety will also have symptoms of depression and vice versa. Sometimes, the causes of depression and anxiety depict similar patterns of maladjustments. We don’t know it yet why depression and anxiety happen simultaneously in so many patients. However, one theory suggests that these two conditions have similar biological mechanisms in the brain, so they appear right after one another. Another theory believes that as the symptoms of depression and anxiety overlap and so do the treatment measures, hence, people frequently meet the criteria for both. 

Psychological counselling and medications like antidepressants and mood stabilisers massively help in treating both the disorders. Lifestyle changes, such as improving sleep habits, increasing social support, using stress-reduction techniques or getting regular exercise, also have shown long-lasting effects. So, they are two different conditions, but with the overlap of symptoms, comorbidity, and similar treatment measures, they are often mentioned synonymously.

6 Natural Remedies For Anxiety And Depression

Cognitive-behavioural therapy (CBT) has given positive results when applied to patients suffering from these two mental conditions. Also, the drugs most commonly used against depression have also been proved effective against an array of anxiety disorders. However, if your condition is mild then you can resort to some self-monitored natural remedies alongside more conventional medical therapies.

1. Set A Routine And Follow It Like A Regime

If you’re depressed, following a routine is a starter to combat it. Routine gives you a structure and a sense of control. It allows you to create space for all your tasks, prioritise them, and take time out for self-care. Depression and anxiety can strip away the structure from your life. Follow a schedule and set up daily goals. The goals could be as small as waking up at a specific time or doing the dishes every other day or taking compulsory walks for half an hour every day. And as the days progress and you start feeling better, aim for more challenging goals. Setting up such small and achievable goals will help you to get back on track.

2. Make Workout A Priority On Your Daily To-Do List

Exercise burns off your anxious energy and has shown long-term benefits for people with depression. Psychologists claim that regular exercise seems to encourage the brain to rewire itself in positive ways. You don’t have to run marathons to see the benefit, just taking a walk once a day will also help.

3. Utilise The Healing Power Of Meditation

You racing and negative thoughts can be slowed down with the help of a little meditation and yoga. Practising meditation and yoga regularly will help you to manage stress and anxiety. Mindfulness-based meditation has gained immense popularity recently as it’s highly effective for people suffering from mood disorders and anxiety. 

4. Eat Healthy And Say ‘No’ To Comfort Food

It’s always a good idea to watch what you eat. Sometimes, depression makes you overeat, seeking comfort from food. Other times, you will not even feel like taking one bite for hours at stretch. Try to follow a balanced diet and remember that consuming junk food will only momentarily help you feel better but it’s never a long term solution. Include loads of fruits and veggies in your meals and stay hydrated.

5. Take Control Of Your Sleep-Wake Cycle

Depression and anxiety will give you a tough time when it comes to your sleep-wake cycle. Remember too little sleep will make your depression and anxiety even worse. Try going to bed and getting up at the same time every day. Avoid naps and ensure that you get at least 7 to 8 hours of sleep every night. Inadequate or poor sleep can cause problems with your cardiovascular, endocrine, immune, and nervous symptoms.

6. Pen Down Your Anxious And Depressive Thoughts

Finding a way to express anxiety can make it feel more manageable. Some research suggests that journaling and other forms of writing can help people to cope better with anxiety. Similarly, pen down your thoughts whenever you are feeling low as it will help you to introspect and understand your emotions and motivations in a better way. 

A study initiated by the World Health Organisation in 2015 highlighted that in India, 1 out of 5 people suffer from depression in their lifetime. However, due to the stigma attached to mental illness, lack of awareness, and limited access to professional help, only 10-12% of these sufferers ever seek help. It’s important you realise that you don’t have to suffer behind closed doors and fear how the world will perceive if you come out and seek help to better your mental well-being. Remember, early treatment is the best way to manage the conditions, giving you a satisfying and happy life. It’s never too late and there’s always a way. All you need to do is make a move in the right direction.



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