People use the terms “anxious” and “depressed” a lot, especially during these trying times. So, how do you know if you actually have a clinical disorder, and how do you know which one?
At Compass Mental Health & Wellness (MHW), our compassionate providers understand the complexity of mental health conditions, including anxiety and depression. We recommend looking at the differences between these different disorders and what they can have in common.
Taking a closer look at anxiety
Anxiety disorders include having intense and persistent feelings of worry or anxiety that interfere with daily life. There are several types of these disorders, and they can range from generalized anxiety disorder to panic disorder and other phobia-related disorders.
Key signs of an anxiety disorder include:
- Irritability, agitation, or restlessness
- Rapid heartbeat, shortness of breath, or digestive problems
- Worry over the present or long-term future
- Uncontrollable, obsessive thoughts about negative outcomes
- Avoiding things that could cause anxiety
While specific anxiety disorders can lead to even more identifying markers, the main factor all of these conditions have in common is the disproportionate worry about the risk of something versus the reality of the situation.
What sets depression apart
Mood disorders like depression typically involve a gloomy mood. Like anxiety, there are different types of depressive disorders, ranging from major depressive disorder to bipolar disorder. However, general signs of depression often center around intense and persistent negative emotions.
Common signs of depression include::
- Hopelessness for self, others, or the world
- Worthless or unvalued
- Fatigue and sleep changes
- Loss of interest in things previously enjoyed
Depression can also lead to a persistent belief that life isn’t worth living.
When it could be both
Anxiety and depression are different disorders without a single cause. However, they both involve changes in neurotransmitter function.
Neurotransmitters are chemical messengers. Their job is carrying, boosting, and balancing the signals going between your neurons and cells, like muscles, glands, and even other neurons. You have this intricate communication system to thank for everything — from keeping your brain functioning and your heart beating to regulating your concentration and mood.
When you have clinical anxiety or depressive disorder, it impacts the neurotransmitters dopamine, norepinephrine, and serotonin. Dopamine and norepinephrine keep you motivated, energetic, and engaged while in positive times of stress, like being in love or listening to music. Serotonin not only plays a key role in your feelings of happiness, but it also helps defend against anxiety and depression.
That means if you have imbalanced neurotransmitters, you could easily have both anxiety and depression, with symptoms occurring separately or at the same time. And, if you have a neurotransmitter imbalance, you have a higher risk of anxiety, depression, or other mood disorders.
Both anxiety and depression are highly treatable. Whether you have an anxiety disorder, depressive disorder, or both, our caring team at Compass Mental Health & Wellness can help.
After diagnosing your disorder, we will work closely with you to develop a comprehensive, whole-body approach to controlling your symptoms. Our customized treatment plans may include:
- Medication management
- Sleep analysis
- Mindfulness techniques
- Lifestyle changes
- Exercise recommendations
- Nutritional counseling