Unlike the common cold or the flu anxiety disorders follow a much slower progression. It could all start with panic attacks, then hypochondria, racing thoughts, palpitations and then, well then depression becomes a real possibility. After years of being anxious a person can and often will develop depression and I want to detail how one can tell the difference between anxiety and depression. Let’s start by taking a look at the symptoms for both anxiety disorders and depression.
Cold chills or hot flashes Fatigue and decreased energy
Dizziness Feelings of guilt, worthlessness
Feeling of falling Feeling pessimistic
Heart palpitations Trouble getting out of bed
Muscle twitching or muscle aches Eating too much or too little
Numbness Lost of interest in things you like
Shooting pains Thoughts of suicide
Easily startled Frequent thoughts of death
Lump in the throat Crying Spells
Frequent urination Trouble making decisions
Diarrhea Low sex drive
Fear of dying Headaches
Fear of going crazy Hypersomnia - Sleeping too much
Memory loss Apathy
Problems concentrating Feelings of deep sadness
Feelings of unreality Feelings of anger
GERD or frequent heartburn Chronic pain
Fear of heart attack
There is more … but you get it.
After looking at the various symptoms what jumps out at you right away? Probably a couple of things but the one big difference is how anxiety is rooted in the body and mind, whereas depression lives more in your feelings. Feelings about yourself, people you love, things you love, and your general outlook on life.
Anxiety can do this too to some degree since it can create a sense of frustration and impatience with being anxious for long periods of time. Depression however is in many ways more sinister precisely because it can create a sense of emotional detachment and deep sorrow. It’s the kind of sadness that hurts.
How an anxiety disorder can give life to depression isn’t really rocket science. That frustration and anger I mentioned about having anxiety, well overtime this can “settle” in your thoughts and feelings. Anxiety is the thing that makes you afraid and makes you grab at your chest, depression is the thing that makes you say, “damn it I’m tired of this”. It literally sucks the life and joy out of a person.
Anxiety disorders are clearly a more phyiscal ailment. Anxiety disorders are based on phyiscal symptoms that give rise to disturbing thoughts. Those thoughts, over time, can and often do morph into depression. Taken together this is the world’s nastiest soul crushing combo. And although anxiety disorders are not the only possible cause of depression, far from it, it can play a significant role in developing depression.
But even with all this in front of us, there is hope to be had. Depression and anxiety are treatable. And later this week I’ll be talking about the best coping strategies to deal with this two headed monster. Until then stay frosty and don’t let anxiety or depression impress you too much.