Anxiety and depression are both two of the most common mental health issues. After all, emotional and work overload and mood disorders affect millions of people and can show up in virtually any type of situation in life.
However, it is also true that it is not always easy for the person who is not expert in the matter to know how to recognize the symptoms of the two alterations. In this article, we will see, as an indication, what are the main differences between anxiety and depression, Two psychological states capable of making us suffer a lot, albeit in a different way.
The differences between depression and anxiety
In order to be able to detect the typical characteristics of anxiety and depression, take the following keys as a reference.
1. The degree of motivation
People with depression often experience a symptom known as abulia. Abulia is, fundamentally, the lack of desire to do things, of initiative. That is, in the main variants of depression, which suffers us state feeling no motivation to do anything, Although it is proposed to perform seemingly fun activities that do not require effort.
In contrast, people who suffer from anxiety do not meet the above characteristic. Their state of mental exhaustion can make them more likely to tire right away, but they often find it difficult to rest and instead try to find entertainment to keep busy and not have to think about what is worrying them.
2. Its causes
The causes of anxiety can respond to an almost endless variety of factors that, being present in everyday life, lead us to this state: lack of sleep, drug addiction, certain social or economic problems, etc.
Depression, on the other hand, it frequently appears endogenously, No clear reason to explain it. When the onset of symptoms coincides with a specific event, it is usually one-off, and the mere passage of time should not cause depression to “go back to normal”.
3. The presence or absence of concerns
People with anxiety are characterized by being in an almost constant state of worry. Ruminating, which is the habit of constantly returning the same thought (however negative it may be) is a vicious cycle from which they can hardly escape.
This is so because the reason for anxiety is keep us alert very useful when there is a danger but which, if chronic, causes problems.
In depression, however, there is little or no direct concern in the most severe cases. These types of disorders are not an extension of an evolutionary useful activation mechanism, but its origin is much more mysterious and, as of yet, little is known.
The feeling of discomfort felt in depression should not be so much related to the awareness that there is a danger nearby but, on the contrary, to a feeling of melancholy and the loss of reason to get out of bed.
4. The ability to profit
Another of the most important differences between depression and anxiety is that people with depression they tend to lose the ability to profit, Although it is not a psychological pleasure but rather linked to a physical stimulation. It is a symptom known as anhedonia.
Anxious people, on the other hand, do not have anhedonia, although it is true that their ability to enjoy can also be impaired due, among other things, to the fact that it is difficult for them to stop thinking about what worries them. on the one hand, since his physical condition is not optimal, on the other hand, due to the wear and tear they suffer from daily due to lack of sleep or poor management of working time.
In depression, therefore, this inability to experience pleasure is of a rather endogenous type, as there are mismatches in the levels of neurotransmitters and in the patterns of activation of specific parts of the brain. However, in anxiety, although there are also changes in the nervous system, the causes of these difficulties in enjoying are more related to the constant state of alertness, that is, it depends on interaction with the environment.
5. Degree of predisposition to achieve objectives
Neither depression nor anxiety are states in which people are geared towards achieving their goals. However, the absence of this predisposition is much more pronounced and noticeable in the case of depressive disorders.
In anxiety, we often postpone tasks that can lead us to solving what worries us, because the mere thought of facing this task scares us again. However, the most common thing is that once labor has started, everything is going more normally.
In depression, however, we don’t even consider if there’s something we need to do: It is as if the obligations cease to exist. In fact, if there’s anything you yearn for, it’s to relive the times when depression didn’t start. Indeed, if people with anxiety think a lot about the future, for patients with depression it does not matter more than the current situation.
- Davison GC (2008). Abnormal psychology. Toronto: Veronica Visentin. p. 154.
- Tillich P. (1952). The courage to be. New Haven: Yale University Press. p. 76.