What's the difference between anxiety and depression?
Anxiety and depression are separate mental health conditions which can affect each person differently, with their own set of symptoms and triggers.
Depression is not just a case of feeling unhappy or sad for a few days, depression is where you feel continually sad for several weeks or months. Some of the main characteristics include feeling unhappy, helpless, or losing interest in hobbies and activities you usually enjoy. It can also cause physical symptoms like loss of appetite, tiredness, and sleep problems.
Anxiety is a feeling of worry, unease, or discomfort when faced with certain situations. An anxiety disorder is when these feelings happen frequently, and start to impact your day-to-day life.
How are depression and anxiety linked?
While anxiety and depression affect people in different ways, both of these conditions have similar causes. This is why mixed depression and anxiety is so common, as what causes each can actually lead to someone developing both.
A genetic predisposition is responsible for approximately 40% of depression and anxiety cases. With anxiety disorders there is often a family history which helps to explain the genetic cause of the condition.
Environmental or social factors is an umbrella term for a variety of different causes of anxiety and depression. For example, traumatic experiences growing up or during adulthood are a common cause of mental health issues. Problems with your physical health can also become a trigger for anxiety or depression as can your current life situation.
Chronic pain is linked to psychological distress including anxiety and depression. Some medical conditions like nerve pain syndromes, fibromyalgia, lower back pain, and irritable bowel syndrome often trigger mental health conditions and may even share similar biological pathways.
The good news is, both anxiety and depression can be treated, so there is no need to suffer in silence with either of these conditions. There are a range of treatment therapies including medication, talking therapies and lifestyle changes which can be used in combination and are effective at treating both anxiety and depression at the same time.