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Depression and anxiety are two of the most common mood disorders. Everyone experiences both of these mental processes at one time or another. 

It is normal for a person to become depressed after the death of a loved one or the end of a relationship. It is equally common to experience extreme worry or dread regarding an upcoming event, like a speech or a flight.

While everyone experiences anxiety and depression from time to time, some people suffer from extended bouts of one or the other (or both). Because these two disorders share some common characteristics and are often intertwined, many have trouble distinguishing between the two.

The Differences Between Anxiety and Depression

Anxiety involves an extreme sense of dread, fear, or impending doom. Anxiety attacks can be triggered by external events such as crowded places, traffic accidents, and social events. At other times, anxiety attacks may occur without an obvious trigger.Depression involves bouts of extremely low mood. An individual suffering from depression may feel worthless and hopeless. The future seems bleak to such an individual, and any hope for an improvement of circumstances feels false.

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Symptoms of Depression

Individuals suffering from depression may feel hopeless and pessimistic about the future. They may lose interest in activities they once found engaging. They may contemplate self-harm or even suicide.

Other symptoms of depression include a change in appetite or sleeping habits, a constant sense of exhaustion, slowed speech and movements, and feelings of worthlessness or guilt.

Individuals suffering from depression may have trouble thinking clearly, making decisions, or concentrating. They often cannot stop performing pointless activities such as pacing or handwringing.

If such symptoms persist for longer than two weeks, the individual may be suffering from clinical depression.

Symptoms of Generalized Anxiety

Individuals suffering from Generalized Anxiety Disorder may feel tense, overly worried, or even panicked about the future. They often become overwhelmed with a sense of impending doom. They find it difficult to control their worries and are driven to avoid situations that might trigger an attack.

Anxiety disorder can also manifest into physical symptoms such as profuse sweating, bodily pain, an increased heart rate, trembling or shaking, exhaustion, gastrointestinal issues, and hyperventilation.

Similar to depression, anxiety can result in difficulty concentrating, thinking clearly, and sleeping.

Depression Treatment

There are two main avenues for treating depression: therapy and medication.

Psychotherapy helps many patients to reduce the number and length of depressive episodes. Others find group therapy and support groups to be helpful. 

Doctors can also prescribe a variety of antidepressants to help patients cope with depression. These medications affect the chemicals in the brain that control moods and can help limit the number and severity of depressive episodes.

Many patients benefit from a combination of these two avenues of treatment.

Anxiety Treatment

Similar to depression, anxiety disorder treatments involve therapy and medication. Many individuals who suffer from anxiety disorders find psychotherapy and support groups to be highly effective in managing their attacks.

Individuals with anxiety disorders can also receive prescriptions for medications that will help reduce the number and severity of their attacks.

Many people with chronic anxiety benefit from a combination of therapy and medication.

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