Depression and Anxiety: Different and Similar

Depression and Anxiety: Different and Similar

One in 5 adults in the U.S. lives with a mental health issue. You likely know people who experience depression or anxiety. Some people have both. They are different health problems, but share some of the same warning signs.

Help is available for both, but the path to feeling better may require health care and time.

Shrinking Stigma

The National Alliance on Mental Illness says loneliness, shame and blame often go along with mental illness. That can make it hard for someone to reach out for help. With their campaign — StigmaFree leaving site icon — NAMI is working to build hope, understanding and awareness.  

A mental health stigma is fueled by attitudes, beliefs and stereotypes society holds about people who live with mental health conditions. It can make people feel ashamed for something that is out of their control. Most important, it’s dangerous.

People may skip the medical care they need due to a stigma. Compassion, understanding, and open talk about the illness can go a long way toward ending fear and shame. They can improve the chance of someone getting the help they need to feel better.

Signs and Symptoms

While depression and anxiety are different, they share some common warning signs. Sleep issues, fatigue and trouble with focus affect people with both. Still, there are important differences. Here are ways you can tell them apart.

Signs of Anxiety

  • Too much worry
  • Restlessness
  • Rapid heart rate
  • Irritability
  • Muscle tension
  • Dizziness
  • Upset stomach

You can learn more about anxiety and ways to cope with it from the National Institute of Mental Healthleaving site icon

Signs of Depression

  • Low mood
  • Little interest in fun events
  • Change in hunger
  • Problems sleeping
  • Lack of energy
  • Feelings of guilt
  • Trouble focusing
  • Suicidal thoughts

For more information about depression, visit from the National Institute of Mental Healthleaving site icon

Talk to Your Doctor

If you need care, your doctor can help you find a skilled therapist, counselor or psychologist. If you need help finding a doctor, call us at the number on your member ID card.

Sources: Stigma Free, leaving site icon National Alliance on Mental Illness; Anxiety Disorders, leaving site icon National Institute of Mental Health, 2024; Depression, leaving site icon National Institute of Mental Health, 2024

Originally published 5/28/2019; Revised 2022, 2024