Depression and anxiety are very different and some people actually experience both.

Depressive Disorders:

  • Depressive disorders is an umbrella term for a number of different disorders, which differ in duration, timing or cause. They all significantly impact on the person’s ability to function.
  • There are three areas that we notice changes when a person is experiencing a depressive disorder – physical changes, changes in how they feel, and changes in how they think
  • Changes in how a person feels may include:
    • Prolonged feelings of sadness
    • Feelings of hopelessness
    • Feeling empty
    • Feeling more irritable
  • The physical changes may include:
    • changes in appetite (either loss of appetite or overeating) and/or weight loss or weight gain
    • changes in sleep (poor sleep or oversleeping)
    • decrease in energy levels and fatigue
  • The changes in thinking may include:
    • Poor concentration
    • Difficulty making decisions
    • Loss of interest or pleasure in activities
    • Low self-esteem
    • Thoughts of death, thoughts of suicide, and/or suicide attempts
  • Everyone feels unhappy at times in their lives. When these feelings stick around for long periods, and the changes I’ve just mentioned really impact on a person’s ability to function in their lives, then we might consider that they are experiencing one of the depressive disorder.

Anxiety Disorders:

  • Anxiety Disorders include different disorders that all involve excessive fear and anxiety.
  • Again, we need to remember that everyone feels fear and anxiety at different times. It is part of what makes us human, in how we have evolved to keep aware of potential threats in our environment. However, when the fear and/or anxiety persists over a long period (usually more than 6 months) and is not what would be expected for the age of the person, then they might be experiencing an anxiety disorder.
  • The anxiety disorders vary based on what is causing the fear or anxiety and the changes in thinking that can go along with that.
  • Some examples of the different anxiety disorders are:
  • Specific phobia is when a person is fearful or anxious about a certain object or situation, like a fear of flying, a fear of a particular animal, or a fear of a particular situation. The person may actively avoid the object or situation. The level of fear or anxiety is persistent and out of proportion to the actual risk posed.
    • Social anxiety is when a person is fearful or anxious about social situations that might involve being scrutinised or judged by others. A common example would be meeting unfamiliar people. The person may also actively avoid these situations. The focus of the person’s thinking is that they will be negatively evaluated by others, embarrassed, humiliated or rejected by others.
    • Panic Disorder occurs when a person has recurrent unexpected panic attacks and is constantly worried about having more panic attacks. Again, the person might avoid certain situations or locations which causes issues for their everyday functioning.
    • Panic attacks occur when there is a surge of intense fear or discomfort that reaches a peak within a few minutes and is accompanied by physical changes and changes in thinking.
    • Agoraphobia is when a person is fearful and anxious about situations involving being in public. The situations almost always bring on the fear or anxiety and the situations are often avoided and require someone else who they trust to be with them.
    • Generalised anxiety disorder involves persistent and excessive worry and anxiety about many areas, which the person finds difficult to control. There are also physical changes that occur with the worry.