Are Depression and anxiety the same thing?

“One in four people in the world will be affected by mental or neurological disorders at some point in their lives” (WHO, 2014). This means that one of your friends, family or people close to you will likely suffer from a mental health condition. As the two largest mental health conditions, Anxiety and Depression are likely to be the main offenders. But what are they?

Understanding anxiety

From time to time, everyone will experience anxiety. It’s not uncommon. Sometimes, it can be a good thing to have a necessary amount of caution. However, sometimes anxiety can become too much, and if it gets to a point where it’s no longer helpful in day to day life, you may have an anxiety disorder.

The medical definition of anxiety is “A feeling of apprehension and fear, characterised by physical symptoms such as palpitations, sweating and feelings of stress”. For a more in-depth read on what anxiety is, refer to one our most recent blog articles.

Anxiety disorders are linked to something specific, like a life event currently happening with issues to do with Money, Health or something else. However, some are ‘free-floating’ with no link, and no cause.

Understanding depression

Depression is a mood disorder that causes a persistent feeling of sadness and loss of interest. Also called Major Depressive Disorder (MDD) or clinical depression, it affects how you feel, think and behave. This can lead to a variety of emotional and physical problems. You may have trouble doing normal day-to-day activities, and sometimes you may feel as if life isn’t worth living.

Depression is defined by having a feeling of a low mood, and a loss of interest in activities for a period of two weeks or longer. This is the core symptom of depression, but there are a range of other symptoms that someone can experience, such as;

  • Guilt
  • Feelings of Helplessness
  • Feeling Worthless, and having little to no confidence
  • Thoughts of death, and/or suicide


There is one main difference between depression, and anxiety. One refers to a single illness, whereas the other is an ‘umbrella’ term for a swathe of illnesses. While depression is normally caused by Anxiety, it encapsulates a lot of illnesses such as; Generalised Anxiety Disorder (GAD), Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), but can also cover things like Phobia’s, Disorders etc.

Similarly, there are two core symptoms that Generalised Anxiety Disorder can display; excessive bouts of Anxiety, or worrying on most days for more than a period of six months. There are further symptoms beyond this however that can be displayed;

  • Feeling on Edge or Restlessness
  • Irritability

Physical symptoms

Physically, there are a lot of symptoms that can appear in both Anxiety Disorders, as well as Depression. These can be;

  • Difficulty in falling asleep, and staying asleep.
  • Fidgeting, and not being able to sit still.
  • Poor Concentration (As people with anxiety generally will be unable to focus on day to day tasks)
  • Fatigue, and feeling tired (Similarly attributed to the first point)

However, there are different physical symptoms unique to each condition. In depression, symptoms may include:

  • A gain, or loss in weight often caused by a change in appetite
  • An overall slowness in your character

In Generalised Anxiety Disorder, symptoms may include:

  • Obsessive Sweating
  • An increase in heartbeat, and a loss of your breath
  • Headaches
  • Muscle Tension and Aches

Can you have anxiety and depression concurrently?

So, from reading the above you’re probably scratching your head about whether there are any differences between them, and indeed whether you can have both at the same time. Features can overlap, and that makes it a lot more difficult. But, in short, yes it is possible to experience both.

In fact, it’s not just possible, it’s a very common theme. Around half of people with a Generalised Anxiety Disorder will also be experiencing depression.

If you’re currently experiencing Anxiety, or Depression and are looking for a method to ease your feelings of Anguish, check out Ed can Help®. Our sound therapy is accessible, and can be used to treat Anxiety and Depression. You’ll find the 20-minute sessions on our app, and it couldn’t be easier to get started. Click here to Download Ed can Help® on IOS and on Google Play