Anxiety and depression are two of the most common mental health diagnoses in the United States today. And while they each have a distinctive set of experiences and symptoms, there is substantial overlap – and many people live with both disorders at the same time.

Understanding the difference between depression vs. anxiety relies on knowing the unique profile of each disorder. Additionally, finding the answer to the question, “Am I depressed or anxious?” has real-world treatment implications, as seeking out the wrong type of care can impede your path to recovery.

Let’s explore the differences and similarities between depression vs. anxiety, as well as provide some practical tools to help you start your journey to holistic mental health.

What Are the Symptoms of Depression?

Although there are a number of different depression diagnoses, they all have a common set of symptoms. Common symptoms of depression include:

  • A pervasive low mood
  • Loss of interest in hobbies or activities
  • Sleep disruption, including either insomnia or hypersomnia
  • Unexpected weight changes
  • Trouble concentrating
  • Chronic fatigue
  • Thoughts of death
  • Lack of motivation

A number of different factors can increase your likelihood of developing a depressive disorder. Genetics, burnout, stress, difficult life experiences, and even medical illness can all raise your chances of developing depression symptoms.

Whatever the cause or circumstance may be, depression can be debilitating. It can interfere with your work, relationships, social life, and much more. Thankfully, there are a number of different depression treatments that can dramatically reduce your symptoms and potentially help you achieve total remission.

Different Types of Depression

While the core symptoms are typically the same, there are several different types of depression.

Major Depressive Disorder (MDD)

MDD is characterized by severe, transient episodes of depression that last for more than two weeks.

Persistent Depressive Disorder (PDD)

People with PDD experience a constant, low-grade depression for at least two years. While people with PDD may experience more severe bouts of depression, their “baseline” is a chronic sense of low mood, self-esteem, or other related difficulties.

Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder (PMDD)

PMDD is a type of depression that happens just before a woman starts her period. PMDD can range in severity and is separate from premenstrual syndrome.

Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)

SAD is a cyclic cycle of depression that happens in time with the seasons. Typically, SAD happens during the fall and winter months and improves during spring and summer. SAD is more likely to happen to people who live far from the equator in places where there is limited sunlight during the colder months.

Determining which type of depression you or your loved one is experiencing requires a formal diagnosis from a mental health professional. Since there is significant overlap between the different types of depression, an expert can help delineate which category best describes your condition.

What Are the Symptoms of Anxiety?

Whereas depression is characterized by symptoms of low mood or fatigue, anxiety is characterized by a frequent experience of fear, nervousness, or restlessness. Some of the hallmark symptoms of anxiety include:

  • Trouble making decisions
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Sleep difficulties, particularly insomnia
  • Feeling a sense of impending doom
  • Elevated heart rate
  • Stomach discomfort
  • Feeling tense or irritable

Anxiety can occur for a number of different reasons. Depending on your specific diagnosis, you may feel anxiety in response to specific stressful situations, or you could have a more general anxiety that seems to occur randomly.

Anxiety can feel paralyzing. It can cause you to question every decision, imagine the worst possible outcomes, and leave you frozen in place. For some people, it can even cause panic attacks — sudden and overwhelming physical and emotional responses to stressful situations.

A number of holistic anxiety treatment options have been developed to help people with these challenges. Anxiety treatment can substantially reduce your symptoms and let you get back to living life without interruption.

Different Types of Anxiety

The different anxiety diagnoses can all lead to symptoms in different situations. Some of the more common types of anxiety include:

Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD)

GAD is one of the most common types of anxiety. People with this disorder tend to feel anxious about many different events and tasks and have trouble controlling their worries.

Panic Disorder

Panic disorder is characterized by having frequent panic attacks. A panic attack is a sudden wave of anxiety that often leads to a racing heart, shortness of breath, nausea, and an overwhelming sense of fear or dread.

Social Anxiety Disorder

If your anxiety only seems to appear when you are performing for others or in highly social situations, it might be social anxiety disorder. People with this type of anxiety have extreme difficulty meeting new people, speaking in public, or performing for others.

Specific Phobias

A specific phobia is an intense feeling of fear related to a specific place, object, situation, or feeling. For example, a person terribly afraid of spiders may have a specific phobia called arachnophobia. Fear of small, enclosed spaces is known as claustrophobia.

Finding a professional to assess and diagnose your anxiety can ensure that you start a treatment program that fits your particular needs. While the core experience of anxiety is similar across each type of disorder, the treatment options can vary significantly.

Can Depression and Anxiety Overlap?

Many of the symptoms of depression and anxiety overlap, which is why so many people ask themselves the question, “Am I depressed or anxious?” Sleep difficulties, trouble concentrating, and irritability are common symptoms across both disorders, making it difficult for some people to differentiate between the two.

Additionally, many people may be living with both depression and anxiety at the same time. In fact, depression and anxiety are frequently the most common combination of mental health diagnoses, with over half of people with either diagnosis having the other as well, according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness.

When you have co-occurring depression and anxiety, your symptoms can cause significant disruption. Finding a treatment program that can treat both diagnoses simultaneously is important to help you find relief, this also goes for bipolar disorder and other disorders.

What to Do if Low Mood or Anxiety Doesn’t Improve

It’s not uncommon for people to experience fleeting low moods or intermittent anxiety, and most people who experience these symptoms don’t meet the criteria for a mental health disorder. But when this experience begins to last for weeks, months, or years, it’s likely time to seek out an evidence-based treatment program.

There are dozens of different treatment options to treat either disorder. Academics and clinicians have studied treatment for decades and have evidence-based tools to help you achieve relief from your symptoms and potentially even total remission.

Traditional Treatment Options for Depression and Anxiety

Two different approaches to treating depression and anxiety have stood the test of time: talk therapy and medication management. Each of these treatment options can produce remarkable results in helping treat either disorder, and both have multiple different styles of treatment to fit varying needs.

Talk Therapy

A number of different styles of talk therapy can treat anxiety or depressive disorders. Among others, common evidence-based options include:

  • Cognitive-behavioral therapy
  • Interpersonal therapy
  • Dialectical behavior therapy
  • Acceptance and commitment therapy

Many of these therapies are offered in both individual therapy and group therapy options.

Meeting with a therapist to talk about your mental health isn’t just about having someone to listen to your problems. Instead, they can provide you with targeted strategies to help lessen your symptoms, manage them if they should arise, and make healthy lifestyle changes to support your recovery.

Medication Management

Medication management takes a different approach to recovery — using specific medications that can alter your brain chemistry, potentially leading to a significant reduction in depressive or anxious symptoms.

In medication management, you work directly with a psychiatrist who can prescribe these medications, help you determine which ones will work best for you, and who will monitor your progress throughout treatment.

They can adjust your dose and the timing of your medication, or they can prescribe new or supplemental medications as needed to help you achieve your recovery goals.

Novel Treatment Approaches at Plus by APN

As effective as traditional treatments have proven themselves to be, there is still a significant portion of people who don’t find the results they’re looking for with conventional treatments alone. However, recent years have had rapid development in innovative treatment techniques that are even effective for treatment-resistant depression or anxiety disorders.

At Plus by APN, we offer a number of these treatments to provide our clients with the best possible chances for success:

Stellate Ganglion Block

A stellate ganglion block can be a rapid source of symptom relief for people living with an anxiety disorder. The stellate ganglion is a bundle of nerves located on the lower neck that serves as a neural highway for the sympathetic nervous system. The sympathetic nervous system is responsible for the fight-or-flight response and plays a key role in many anxiety disorders.

A stellate ganglion block is a brief outpatient procedure that delivers a local anesthetic into this bundle of nerves, preventing overactivation of the sympathetic nervous system. This can provide an immediate and substantial reduction in anxiety symptoms and help your sympathetic nervous system reset to a pre-anxiety state.

While a stellate ganglion block isn’t permanent, it can provide rapid relief and long-lasting results.

Deep Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation

Deep transcranial magnetic stimulation (dTMS) is an innovative approach that applies the findings of neuroscience to anxiety and depression treatment. Certain brain regions are typically underactive in mental health disorders, and stimulating these brain regions can help restore them to normal functioning.

dTMS starts with a detailed brain map. Once the target regions have been identified, you’ll place a specialized cap on your head that contains powerful electromagnets. These magnets send impulses deep into the brain, kickstarting underactive circuits and forging new and lasting neural pathways.

dTMS is particularly exciting in its ability to treat depression that hasn’t been significantly improved through talk therapy or medication. And like many other treatment options by Plus by APN, dTMS can be combined with other treatments for even greater effect.

Ketamine-Assisted Therapy

Ketamine-assisted therapy (KAT) uses the dissociative anesthetic ketamine to accelerate the therapeutic process. A single session of KAT can spark breakthroughs in therapy that would take months in conventional therapy alone and create durable improvements that last years.

While ketamine is new to the mental health space, it has been used in medical treatment for decades. It is a safe and effective treatment for both depression and anxiety when taken under the direction of a specially trained care team.

Start Treatment at Plus by APN

When you’re ready to get started, reach out to the team at Plus by APN by calling 424.644.6486 or by filling out our confidential online contact form. Our team can help guide you toward the treatments that work best for your needs and will be there to support you every step of the way.


  • “The Comorbidity of Anxiety and Depression.” NAMI, Accessed 27 Jan. 2024.
  • Serafini, Gianluca et al. “The role of ketamine in treatment-resistant depression: a systematic review.” Current neuropharmacology vol. 12,5 (2014): 444-61. doi:10.2174/1570159X12666140619204251