What is the Difference Between Depression and Anxiety?

Two of the most common mental health conditions, depression and anxiety are often conflated. While they share similarities, the two are entirely different conditions. Much of the confusion stems from overlap in symptoms, as well as the fact that the two often present in conjunction. In today’s post we’re looking at how the symptoms, causes, and treatments of these two diagnoses overlap, as well as where they differ.

What is depression?

Depression is a common mental health condition that adversely affects the way an individual feels, thinks, and acts. In contrast to anxiety, which is often considered a high-energy state, depression is typically characterized by low energy levels and is known to cause persistent thoughts of sadness, hopelessness, apathy, and even suicidal ideation. For individuals with major depressive disorder (MDD), these thoughts can persist almost unrelentingly for weeks on end.

Some of the manifestations of depression include:

  • Alterations in appetite
  • Malaise
  • Insomnia or hypersomnia
  • Lack of energy
  • Trouble with concentration and memory
  • Feelings of guilt and/or worthlessness
  • Suicidal thoughts

What is anxiety?

     While depression and anxiety are often associated and even directly related, the two are not synonymous. Rather, individuals with anxiety are characterized by uncontrolled worry, negative thoughts about the future, and avoidant behavior.

By itself, anxiety is a natural response to stress. However, where individuals struggling with anxiety run into issues is when their perception of danger becomes disconnected from reality. While the concerns that create the anxiety are typically not unfounded, they tend to be disproportionate to the actual risk and can quickly become debilitating. Currently, anxiety is the most common mental health struggle in the U.S., affecting nearly 20% of the population every year.1

Symptoms of anxiety include:

  • Difficulty sleeping and/or staying awake
  • Dizziness
  • GI issues
  • Muscle tension (especially in muscles of the head, neck, and upper shoulders)
  • Increased heart rate, blood pressure, and perspiration
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Irritability
  • Fatigue

How are anxiety and depression related?

     Depression and anxiety can be closely tied to one another. In fact, nearly 60% of individuals with anxiety also suffer from depression.2 This relationship may be caused by a feedback loop in which anxiety triggers overwhelming worries and concerns that may lead to depression. A biological component predisposing individuals for both conditions, however, may also be partially to blame.

Treatments for depression:

  • Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) – CBT is a form of psychological treatment used to help patients find new and more constructive ways to behave through improving their thought patterns.
  • Psychodynamic therapy – A form of talk therapy based on addressing the foundation and formation of psychological thought processes.
  • Interpersonal therapy – An approach that focuses on improving the quality of interpersonal relationships and social interactions.
  • Antidepressants – Talk to your doctor about appropriate pharmaceutical interventions.

Treatments for anxiety:

  • Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT)
  • Support groups – An opportunity to share personal experiences, emotions, and coping strategies with others going through similar struggles.
  • Stress management and relaxation techniques – Techniques that decrease stress and tension while promoting calmness by activating the body’s parasympathetic nervous system. Examples include mindfulness and breathing exercises.
  • Anti-anxiety medications

Mindboost helps users suffering from anxiety and depression.

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At Mindboost, we are proud to be able to offer a wide range of evidence-based psychological modalities designed to help users strengthen the attributes that allow us to thrive and connect. Learn more about how our revolutionary app can help provide mental health support for your college, school, or workplace community through our emphasis on holistic emotional wellbeing.


1.          Facts & Statistics. Anxiety & Depression Association of America. Updated September 19 2021. Accessed February 13, 2022. https://adaa.org/understanding-anxiety/facts-statistics

2.          Salcedo ME. The comborbidity of anxiety and depression. National Alliance on Mental Illness. Updated January 19, 2018. Accessed February 13, 2022. https://www.nami.org/Blogs/NAMI-Blog/January-2018/The-Comorbidity-of-Anxiety-and-Depression#:~:text=In%20mental%20health%2C%20one%20of,with%20depression%20also%20experiencing%20anxiety.