We have to cancel a weekend away and claim ‘we are so depressed’ . Faced with a big work presentation, we complain we are ‘dying of anxiety’.
But anxiety is not just worry and depression is not sadness. Anxiety and depression are serious mental health issues that are ongoing and beyond our control, and seriously affect our capacity to function.
Depression means we see the world and ourselves in such a negative way we struggle to see the point. Our thoughts go over all the things we said and did in the past, and we can no longer see a future for ourselves. We feel exhausted, and like our head is full of fog.
Anxiety means we are constantly convinced things are going to go terribly wrong. Our thoughts are caught up in a punishing cycle of panic, gloom, and worst case scenarios. The stress means we are constantly in ‘fight or flight’ mode. Our body is flooded with chemicals like cortisol and we experience buzzy highs, muscle tension, and things like headaches and upset stomachs.
Again, both anxiety and depression are mental health issues that last for several months or more and affect your day-to-day life. You might start avoiding social situations, and staying at home more. Your career and relationships can suffer.
And both anxiety and depression can involve:
Anxiety obsesses on the future./ Depression focuses on the past.
Anxiety is based on illogical thinking, and puts your mind into overdrive./ Depression is based on destructive thoughts, and makes your mind slow and foggy.
Anxiety makes you tense, ‘buzzy’, and high strung. / Depression makes you lethargic and exhausted.
Anxiety is fear-based and makes you panicky. / Depression is guilt-based and makes you sad.
Anxiety gives you a racing heart, sweaty hands, and muscle tension. / Depression makes your body feel full of sand and you can feel like you have a constant low-grade ‘flu’.
Yes. They don’t operate at the same time, but can come in cycles.
For some people, such as those who experienced childhood trauma and have never sought support, anxiety is their way of being when they are actually ‘managing’. Then, when life gets to much and anxiety alone can’t control their fear, depression takes over.
Life becomes a series of ups and downs. There are weeks of buzzy energy and overthinking, followed by periods where you crash out and can hardly leave the house.
If your anxiety and/or depression have been going on for more than a few months, then it’s important to seek support. Anxiety, if left unchecked, can become generalised anxiety disorder, which is harder to treat. And depression can really derail your life over time, with your relationships and career suffering.
It’s never too late to seek support. Anxiety and depression respond to talk therapy no matter how long they have been going on for.