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Understanding the Difference Between Depression and Anxiety

Nancy MacGregor MA, ATR-BC, LPC, ACS, Clinical Director

Perhaps the two most common mental health issues nearly everyone will experience in their lives is depression and anxiety. Often, the two conditions lead to the other. But depression and anxiety aren’t the same even if their symptoms may overlap. Knowing the difference between depression and anxiety is vital to maintaining and improving mental health. Without a clear understanding of each condition, individuals may come to erroneous conclusions about the kind of help or therapy they need to get healthy. Fortunately, Harmony Bay Wellness offers therapy for both anxiety and depression near Washington Township, NJ. Learn more about these conditions so you or a loved one can get the support necessary.

What is depression?

It’s important to understand that when someone is experiencing depression, they aren’t merely sad. Depression is a mood disorder characterized by a loss of interest or enjoyment in people, things, and activities. What separates depression from a passing sadness is these low feelings persist for several weeks, if not months. An individual’s mood doesn’t ever lighten, and finding pleasure becomes more and more difficult. As the condition worsens, those suffering from depression begin to feel guilty, helpless, and worthless. Such extremely low confidence pushes individuals closer and closer to suicidal thoughts.

Also, it’s not uncommon for someone suffering from depression to attempt to self-medicate to alleviate their discomfort. Unfortunately, this does nothing to address the mental health issue. In fact, self-medicating with drugs or alcohol can cause the condition to become more severe and lead the individual into substance use disorder, that is, addiction.

Understanding the difference between depression and anxiety involves recognizing the symptoms of each. For instance, some of the symptoms of depression include:

  • Lack of interest in previously enjoyed activities
  • Extreme and sudden changes in appetite such as either eating too much or not enough
  • Sleep issues like insomnia, sleeping during the day, or excessive sleeping
  • Slowed movement and slowed thoughts
  • A general lack of energy
  • Persistent and excessive negative feelings about oneself
  • Difficulty concentrating on even simple or routine tasks
  • Suicidal thoughts or behavior

If you, a loved one, friend, family member, or co-worker, exhibit five or more of these symptoms for at least two weeks consecutively, then depression is likely. Fortunately, Harmony Bay Wellness offers an online depression self-assessment tool that can be a good first step in reaching out for help.


Since it is also a mood disorder, anxiety is similar to depression. Like depression, anxiety is more complicated than it is sometimes imagined. Someone enduring an anxiety disorder is not simply overly worried. Instead, they may be suffering from generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) or several other disorders that fall under the term anxiety, such as phobias (intense fears of specific things) or panic attacks.

Identifying an anxiety disorder requires knowing its symptoms, which include:

  • Excessive if not irrational worry
  • Restlessness
  • Fatigue
  • An inability to concentrate on a single task or thought
  • Regular irritability
  • Sleep issues
  • Muscle tension and discomfort

When someone experiences these symptoms more often than not over several months, they are likely suffering from a general anxiety disorder. While there are overlapping symptoms, a difference between depression and anxiety is those with anxiety tend to be overly energized while those with depression appear dulled. Also, individuals suffering from generalized anxiety disorder have difficulty in not obsessing over possible future events. Typically, depression involves some version of resignation.

These symptoms may come and go, but usually, they are present in one form or another most days. Thus, an individual is living in constant distress.


When you understand how depression and anxiety impact a person, you’re better able to help them heal. At Harmony Bay Wellness, we not only know the difference between depression and anxiety but offer a variety of mental health therapies. Our goal is to help people improve their mental health and heal from mental disorders. Some of our therapeutic services include:

Also, we provide specialized programs for couples, those married, and families. So if you or a loved one is wondering if there is quality therapy or psychiatric service in Mt. Laurel, NJ, and the greater South Jersey area, Harmony Bay Wellness can help. Good mental health is something we all need to work towards. Harmony Bay wants to help you be as healthy as you can be. So contact us today at [Direct] to learn more about how we can give you the support you need.

Treatment with Harmony Bay

Harmony Bay is an outpatient behavioral health service that offers primary mental health treatment for a variety of mental health disorders. Our mission is to make mental health care convenient and affordable while providing an unmatched experience to our clients. contact us today by calling 855.765.6399.