A Journey To Understanding And Overcoming Anxiety – Part 3: Understanding The Differences & Commonalities Between Anxiety & Depression

Even though depression and anxiety are often mentioned regularly in conversation, people still have trouble telling them apart because they overlap in many ways. Many people who suffer from anxiety also suffer from depression and vice versa. Anxiety disorders affect roughly 50% of those diagnosed with depression. However, an accurate diagnosis ensures you can find the proper treatment. Finding the right treatment is imperative to your success in stabilising or even transcending beyond the limitations of depression and anxiety.


In this series, I will guide you through understanding the origins of your anxiety, reframing your responses to symptoms, and overcoming your limiting belief patterns.


What Is Anxiety?


One might agree that the intricacy of mental health can be complicated. From a scientific standpoint, there are distinct diagnoses for the numerous forms of mental health conditions that exist. From a hypnotherapy standpoint, we refer to these conditions as a state of disorder or disease. Furthermore, many of these conditions overlap, making it difficult to distinguish between them.


It is highly common to have both, known as “comorbidity” ‒ a condition in which individuals simultaneously experience symptoms from both disorders. Trying to break down the symptoms may cause confusion as to which condition you have since both have similar origins, triggers and effects on the body.


Anxiety disorders can be classified as:


  • Separation anxiety
  • Specific phobias
  • Social anxiety disorder 
  • Panic disorder
  • Generalised anxiety disorder


Symptoms Of Anxiety


Symptoms vary from person to person, but they can include the following:


  • Apprehension in anticipation of certain situations or outcomes
  • Feelings of uncertainty and loss of security
  • A sense of dread
  • Feelings of fear and panic 
  • Insomnia
  • Irritability
  • Heavy sweating
  • Changes in appetite
  • Obsessive thought patterns
  • Chest pains and heart palpitations
  • Nausea
  • Panic attacks


What Is Depression?


Depression is a mood disorder that goes beyond a lack of enthusiasm or having a bad day. Clinical depression is identified by extreme sorrow or apathy that persists over days, weeks, or months. Depression makes it difficult to carry out everyday tasks and may lead to a loss of hope and a sense of no longer being worthwhile.


Similar to anxiety, depression and its related conditions come in various forms. Depressive disorders include:


  • Seasonal affective disorder (SAD)
  • Psychotic depression
  • Manic depressive disorder (MDD)
  • Atypical depression
  • Postnatal depression (PND) or postpartum depression (PPD) 


Symptoms Of Depression


Symptoms vary from person to person, but they can include the following:


  • Having persistent negative emotions
  • Experiencing frequent, uncontrolled sobbing
  • Irritability
  • Trouble focusing, recalling information, and making decisions
  • Feelings of remorse, worthlessness, and powerlessness
  • Pessimism and hopelessness
  • Restlessness
  • Sleep disturbances
  • Loss of interest in previously enjoyed activities
  • Appetite changes
  • Digestive problems
  • Affected sleep patterns
  • Thoughts of self-harm or suicide


Understanding The Links Between Depression And Anxiety


Several depression and anxiety symptoms overlap, but it’s essential to keep in mind that not everyone with depression, anxiety, or both will have the same combination of symptoms.


Both conditions may develop with the following symptoms:


  • Affected sleep patterns
  • Mood swings
  • Trouble with concentration, focus, and memory
  • Irritability.
  • Unexplained discomfort and pain in the body


In addition, these conditions can trigger rumination. Rumination is a persistent cycle of unpleasant and distressing thought patterns that eventually become uncontrollable over time.


The Effects Of Anxiety & Depression On The Human Brain


These conditions are also similar in their shared capacity to alter neurotransmitter activity, particularly that of serotonin. When serotonin levels are low, it triggers and exacerbates anxiety and depression, as well as the ability to produce and use the ‘happiness’ chemical epinephrine.

It has been widely recognised because these disorders show similar neurotransmitter activity, which is why they often manifest with similar symptoms. Depressive episodes are often triggered by anxiety.

Due to neurotransmitter activity and its effect on our perception, anxiety and depression can feel natural, often resulting in inadequate or delayed treatment. The depressed person seldom ever thinks they are depressed as the emotions they experience seem normal to them. Anxiety sufferers, in the same way, become accustomed to experiencing their symptoms and accept that it is part of who they are.


The Impact Of Untreated Anxiety Leading To Clinical Depression


A person’s relationships, productivity at work or school, and social life can all be negatively impacted by the distressing symptoms of an anxiety condition. What matters is how the condition is approached and identifying the origins of the problem. It’s important to evaluate whether it’s better to address the underlying causes or its surface manifestations and symptoms alone. With hypnotherapy, we can address the deepest issues where the state of disease began.


Anxiety disorder symptoms may have far-reaching consequences for a person’s quality of life, including their ability to function in the workplace, classroom, and social circles and their ability to build and maintain meaningful relationships. 


When anxiety isn’t addressed, it can lead to depression. If you’ve been struggling with anxiety for more than five years, you may be at risk for clinical depression. It is crucial to address this issue at its core because avoiding treatment can lead to far more serious and devastating repercussions.


Take The First Step Towards Overcoming Your Anxiety Today


In contrast to pharmaceutical treatments, hypnotherapy focuses on the underlying issues that contribute to anxiety. Together we will work on overcoming your anxiety with the help of the specialised modules I have developed through years of study and practice. My innovative approach will assist you in reframing your perspective to the point where your whole being — your body, mind and spirit — may develop and progress on its own, offering you a sense of peace and well-being.

My name is Dr John Souglides, certified hypnotherapist and life coach. In this series, we’ll delve deeply into the human experience of anxiety. Now that you have learnt more about the differences and similarities between depression and anxiety. Be sure to keep an eye on my blog to learn more as we explore further.

Looking to take the first step towards overcoming your anxiety? This is a great place to start. Reach out, and let’s embark on this journey together.