Not Sure If You Are Experiencing Depression or Anxiety? This Is How To Tell The Difference

You’ve probably felt anxious or depressed before. They are normal human emotions, though they can turn into something much deeper and more serious. If you ask someone to name two common mental health issues, they are very likely to name anxiety and depression. If your feelings snowball into something that feels out of your control, your anxiety or depression may have shifted from the normal range of human emotions into a mental health issue.

Depression and anxiety are two very different medical conditions, but their symptoms, causes and treatments can be very similar. Around 50% of those diagnosed with depression are also diagnosed with an anxiety disorder, according to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA).

While depression is a singular illness, anxiety is an umbrella term and covers a range of singular illnesses. One of the most prevalent illnesses under the overarching term of anxiety is GAD (generalized anxiety disorder).

If you are feeling overwhelmed and seeking help for your anxiety or depression, I’m here to help.

I am an expert with a lot of experience in helping others heal from dark places of mental illness. Personally, I’ve struggled with depression and anxiety myself. The good news is: there is healing. I’ve found the way, and I’ve helped thousands of others do the same thing.

It has been a tough year. Even if you think you’ve had it good and avoided the fallout of stressors, like COVID-19, it’s easy to pick up the negative energies of everyone around you. There have been a lot of changes, restrictions, cancelations, and anger. There has been a major increase in the decline of mental health on average. It’s completely understandable that things may feel more out of control with all of these changes and disruptions to your energy. I’m so glad you are here looking for help. You can choose to get better.

In order to heal, you need to be able to take ownership of what’s bothering you. Let’s look at the difference between both mental health disorders.

What’s the Difference Between Depression and Anxiety?

One of the key differences between depression and anxiety is how you respond to the trigger.

Depression usually makes you want to sink into yourself. You draw within and it’s very hard to get anything done. You might just feel a complete lack of motivation, or you may feel worthless and lonely. Symptoms of depression include:

  • Feelings of powerlessness
  • Low mood or emotions
  • Hopeless that your situation will change
  • Don’t think the future holds potential
  • Lack self-worth
  • Feel like a burden to loved ones or family members
  • Lack of energy
  • Appetite loss
  • Unexplained muscle aches
  • Loss of interest in hobbies or friendships
  • Increased sleep

With a major depressive disorder or depressive episode, you may come to the point of feeling life isn’t worth living. If you have suicidal thoughts or considering self-harm, call the Suicide Prevention Helpline at 1-800-273-8255 to speak to a mental health professional immediately.

Generalized anxiety disorder tends to feel driven by others. Even though it is your own mind creating much of the apprehensive feelings and negativity, it is tied to others. You may feel terrified of being rejected or new social situations because you foresee the potential for bad things to happen (social anxiety). You might even feel anxious about being anxious in the future! Types of anxiety disorders include panic disorder, mood disorder or bipolar disorder. You are either overthinking about the past or worried about the future. Symptoms of anxiety include:

  • Thoughts that something is wrong
  • Racing thoughts and mind in overdrive
  • Panic or anxiety attack
  • Inability to relax or shift focus away from fears
  • Avoiding situations that could cause anxiety
  • Fear of death or perceived dangers
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Flaky and changes mind quickly
  • Heartburn or GERD
  • GI issues (nausea, IBS, constipation)
  • Increased heart rate and high blood pressure
  • Insomnia or waking in the middle of the night
  • Dizziness and muscle tension
  • Sweaty palms or shortness of breath

You might notice that those with anxiety are “keyed up,” while people with depression often move more slowly and feel the need for breaks. Once you’ve determined what is going on, we can start to work through the barriers that are imposing unwanted feelings into your life.

You might be wondering: Can you have anxiety and depression at the same time?

Yes, that is actually possible. MADD (mixed anxiety and depressive disorder) is even given its own category. In these cases, you might have symptoms of both conditions, but not severe enough for a diagnosis of either condition. The combination can be debilitating, earning it a diagnosis of its own.

Treating Anxiety or Depression

These two very different mental health issues are actually treated in very similar ways. There are two main treatments recommended for anxiety or depression:

Psychological therapy: Talking to a professional can be a huge help in restructuring your thinking and behaviors. Cognitive-behavioral therapy approaches the problem with an effort to get to the “why” behind your behavioral patterns. It then treats therapy as a problem-solving exercise to learn coping techniques to improve your behavioral health.

Medication: Though medication typically isn’t my go-to, there are times when it is very necessary. If you struggle with negative thoughts, an antidepressant can make a major impact on your thinking. The most common of these are selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), though there are many options. Getting the dosage right and choosing the best medication for effectiveness may take some time. When it comes to psych medicines, there is certainly no one-size-fits-all approach. Make sure you let your doctor know about any and all changes when taking a medication.

In most cases, anxiety and depression are treated with a combination of both medication and therapy.

Daily Changes for Healing Depression or Anxiety

While this shouldn’t replace visiting an expert for additional help, there are things you can do to work on healing your depression or anxiety on your own. When paired with professional support, these changes will really work magic in your life.

Sleep: Your brain needs sleep to reset and cleanse the buildup of toxins that occurs while you are awake. Better sleep habits will help your circadian rhythm and boost your mood. You might try taking a relaxing and all-natural sleep aid with melatonin to help your mind and body relax. Always set aside plenty of time to get a full 7-9 hours of sleep each night.

Avoid devices, computers and TV for at least an hour before laying down to sleep in order to help your mind relax. Keep your phone away from your bed if possible—use an “old fashioned” digital clock to check the time and set an alarm! This will help you feel less tempted to jump on your device if you wake up at 2 AM.

Exercise: Putting stress on your body actually alleviates the stress on your mind. You can experience a physical release while increasing dopamine levels in your brain. You will feel better and improve your health condition at the same time, so it’s a win-win! Don’t try to punish yourself during this time—look for an activity that you genuinely enjoy. You might join a yoga class, go for outdoor hikes, jog around the block, start horseback riding lessons or join a boxing class.

Aim for 3-5 workouts a week for at least 30 minutes each session. Your goal will be to regularly get in five sessions every week. Go easy on yourself and make this a lifestyle change—not a quick sprint or binge behavior that is all-in and then falls by the wayside when something else comes up.

Healthy Diet: Power your body with the food and nutrients it needs. Avoid high carb and sugar foods, since these will cause spikes in your blood sugar and insulin levels. You want to pursue a diet that is as full of vegetables as possible. Also, add in low-sugar fruits (like berries), nuts, avocados, and olives that will increase your levels of healthy fats (which is really good for your brain). Talk to your healthcare provider about the best balance of nutrition for you.

Don’t think of being “good” or “bad” when it comes to food. Eating is not a moral behavior (unless it gets into greed or gluttony). You are making choices on how to power your body. Be gentle with yourself and just keep aiming for foods that make you feel good after you swallow them. Your relationship with food should be one of honesty and gratitude.

Prayer and Meditation: Spending quiet time talking to your creator and stilling your mind will help you reduce feelings of stress and anxiety. Use this time to reflect on positive mantras that promote healthy truths in your life. For depression, focus on uplifting mantras like: “I wake up! I get up! I show up!” For anxiety mantras, focus on your value and worth: “I am enough. My friends and family care about me and want me to thrive. I can do this.”

Mindfulness: When you have a quiet time of meditation, start thinking about how anxiety or depression has impacted your life. Stop bad habits, like smoking or substance abuse, that you may have sought out for temporary fixes. Those things exacerbate issues and make your healing process take much longer.

Healing Your Anxiety or Depression

I am here for you.

I want you to find the same healing I did. There is a better outcome, and you can get there. From a place of personal understanding, I know how much this is hurting your life and I want to help.

Come join me in my Healing Center and start working on those deep struggles that are pulling you down.

With a Healing Center membership, you will be able to access my Healing Plan for Depression as well as my Healing Plan for Stress, Fear and Anxiety where I can guide you toward balanced energy and healing.

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