Depression and anxiety disorders are not the same, although at first glance they seem very similar. Medication for depression is frequently used to treat both depression and anxiety symptoms alike, which may explain why the two disorders are so often confused. Behavioral therapy frequently helps people overcome both anxiety and depression symptoms.
One of the most common anxiety symptoms is feeling fear or panic in situations where most people would not feel anxious or threatened. Someone with anxiety often lives with a constant nagging worry or anxiousness. Without treatment such as anxiety medication, these disorders can restrict a person’s ability to work, maintain relationships or even leave the house.
Some other common chronic anxiety symptoms include:
- Feelings of helplessness
- Unexplained feelings of dread.
In addition to these symptoms, some people also experience intense anxiety attacks. An anxiety attack is the sudden onset of panic or overwhelming worry. The heart may begin to pound, and the victim may feel dizzy or nauseous, or even faint. It is not unusual for people to feel as if they are about to die during an attack. Anxiety attacks generally last 10 to 30 minutes, although full recovery may take hours. An anxiety attack often leaves a person feeling drained and exhausted. However, anxiety symptoms don’t always include panic attacks.
Anxiety is often treated with medication for depression or other prescription drugs. The most common anxiety medication types are benzodiazepines such as XanaxÂ®. This anxiety medication is often combined with behavioral therapy. Anxiety patients who combine therapy with medication have a better rate of recovery than those who rely on anxiety medication alone.
Depression and anxiety have a tendency to develop and be present at the same time. However, anxiety symptoms can develop without any signs of depression. In the same vein, people coping with depression symptoms may not experience those associated with anxiety.
Depression symptoms include emotions such as hopelessness, despair and anger. Depressed people usually have very low energy levels, and feel overwhelmed by day-to-day tasks and personal relationships.
Other common depression symptoms include:
- Feelings of emptiness
- Loss of interest in activities that were once enjoyable
- Thoughts of death or suicide.
The most common medication for depression is a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI), such as ProzacÂ© or ZoloftÂ©. These antidepressants help regulate levels of serotonin in the brain. Serotonin is a chemical that affects:
- Mental clarity
Like anti-anxiety medications, medication for depression is often combined with therapy.
National Mental Health Association Staff. (n.d.). Anxiety disorders and depression. Retrieved June 10, 2002, from The National Mental Health Association website: www.nmha.org/camh/college/anxiety.pdf.
Segal, J., Segal, R. and Smith, M. (2008). Anxiety attacks and disorders: Signs, symptoms and treatment. Retrieved April 13, 2010, from the Help Guide website: http://helpguide.org/mental/anxiety_types_symptoms_treatment.htm.
Smith, M. and Segal, J. (2008). Antidepressants: What you need to know about depression medication. Retrieved April 13, 2010, from the Help Guide website: http://helpguide.org/mental/medications_depression.htm.