Depression vs. Anxiety?

What Is The Difference Between Depression and Anxiety?

While depression and anxiety can seem very similar, or even be present at the same time, there are some key differences between the two.

Although people can self-identify as depressed or anxious at times, it is important to understand what would qualify as a clinically diagnosable disorder, and also what the differences are between clinical depression and clinical anxiety.



Within the broad medical term “depression,” there are several sub-classifications, the most common of which include:

Major Depression (also called Major Depressive Disorder, or MDD): a set of at least five of the following symptoms including changes to sleeping patterns, changes in appetite, loss of energy, inner tension, overwhelming gloominess, and lack of interest in surroundings and others for two weeks.

Persistent Depressive Disorder: a depressed mood that last for at least two years, not always as intense as MDD on a daily basis.

Bipolar Disorder (also called Manic Depression): episodes of low energy depression as well as high energy or activity called mania.

Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD): symptoms of depression emerge throughout fall and winter, likely due to lack of light exposure.


Similarly, anxiety includes the following major subtypes:

Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD): some combination of above-normal levels of inner tension, concern about the future, irritability, fatigue, and restlessness across six months.

Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD): recurring unwanted thoughts or behaviors

Panic Disorder: frequent and unexpected moments of intense fear and accompanying physical symptoms.

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD): developed after experiencing an emotionally intense event where physical harm may have occurred.

Social Phobia (also called Social Anxiety Disorder): abnormal levels of self-consciousness in common social situations.

Depression vs. Anxiety

The most prevalent form of clinical depression is Major Depressive Disorder, and the most common form of clinical anxiety is Generalized Anxiety Disorder. However, even though both of these disorders are relatively common, they can still be challenging to differentiate. In fact, they are not mutually exclusive, and around 50% of people who are diagnosed with depression will also be diagnosed with a form of anxiety! Here are some of the key similarities and differences between MDD and GAD:

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Overall, the biggest difference is that those with depression have a lack of interest in the future because of pessimistic beliefs that it will not go well. People with anxiety are the opposite, and place intense focus on the future because they are unsure of how things may turn out. With either disorder, however, you could still experience transient episodes of depressed mood or anxious behavior, which would make it harder to self-diagnose your condition.

The best way to understand whether you may have depression or anxiety is to take an online quiz, and then follow up with a physician or counselor based on your results.

Rule Out Depression

 Please take this survey to see if you’re having symptoms of depression:

If you score greater than a 10, you should contact a clinician, such as a doctor or therapist:

Please Reach Out If You Need Help

If you’re looking for evaluation and treatment for depression, please feel free to be in touch anytime:


American Psychiatric Association. (2013). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders (5th ed.). Arlington, VA: American Psychiatric Publishing.

Lader, M. (2013, November 17). Anxiety and Depression. Retrieved from

Major Depression. (2017). Retrieved from

Maddock, R. (2008). Checkup on Health: When is anxiety a clinical condition? Retrieved from

Smith, K. (2018, February 13). Anxiety vs Depression - Tips to help understand the difference. Retrieved from