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Is Anxiety Depression?

December 15, 2019

Is anxiety depression?

Anxiety and depression do have a similar biological basis. Both affect neurotransmitter functions such as producing low serotonin levels and alter other brain chemicals like dopamine and epinephrine. Though there are biological similarities between these two different states of being, they tend to be consciously experienced differently. They can also be experienced at the same time or one after the other.

Another possibility is that one is the cause of the other. 

Psychological Symptoms of Depression and Anxiety

The main way to differentiate the two is to identify the symptoms as they are both characterized by distinct psychological features.

Anxiety symptoms include excessive worrying, racing thoughts, feelings of impending doom, fear and anticipation of danger or even death from some unavoidable circumstance.

Depression symptoms include feelings of hopelessness, thoughts of worthlessness, sadness, apathy and suicidal thoughts.

Anxiety is being stuck in a state of “flight” which can occur when there is strong anticipation of something that has not yet occurred. With depression, you may experience it from past experiences, current situations or from other factors that are all currently affecting your mind, body or well-being. 

Physical Symptoms of Depression and Anxiety

Anxiety’s physical description can be characterized by heightened arousal. Physical symptoms can include tension in the body, gastrointestinal distress, dizziness, increased heart rate, increased blood pressure, shortness of breath, inability to sleep or concentrate.

Depression is usually physically described as changes from normal baselines of things such as appetite, energy, movement, sleep, focus and memory. Both depression and anxiety have mental and physical outcomes and thus both can also be somewhat improved by both mental and physical changes. 

Some suggested physical changes that you can consider making if you are experiencing anxiety include things such as removing or decreasing caffeine intake, exercising more and being sure to get enough rest. Since hormones such as dopamine and serotonin have shown to have a direct correlation with moods. Improving these levels with physical adjustments can be helpful.

Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that regulates mood and decreases anxiety. Decreased levels of serotonin have been linked to both depression and anxiety. While reduced Dopamine levels influence a person's energy levels, attention, movement and more which can contribute to anxiety symptoms if left imbalanced. Taking good care of yourself and making sure to get enough rest does help aid dopamine and serotonin levels.


Making Changes in Real-time

Psychological changes you can make to help with anxiety include meditation, art for relaxation and the practice of grounding. Grounding helps you to realign your thoughts in a moment of anxiety to something other than what you are thinking about that is causing you to be anxious. Altering your thoughts by finding a physical experience to focus on instead is very effective for panic attacks and bouts of anxiety. One method of grounding is the 5-4-3-2-1 method which is to find five things you can see to start. Next, find four things you can feel. Then look around and find three things you can hear. Then find two things you can smell and lastly one thing you can taste. By the time you’ve accomplished the list of things to find your mind has become distracted from what was concerning you. 

Ultimately if you aren’t sure if you are experiencing anxiety and/or depression then seeking help from a qualified counsellor or medical doctor can be beneficial. It is possible to experience both and many times by treating the underlying problems and developing new skills one can overcome each issue.

If you are looking for help with your depression or anxiety do reach out to us and speak with one of our counsellors today!

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