Anxiety is the feeling of being nervous or anxious to the limit that it can interfere with a person’s ability to lead a normal life. Depression is severe dejection and despondency usually felt over a certain period of time and followed by feelings of inadequacy hopelessness.

Comparison chart

Anxiety versus Depression comparison chart
Edit this comparison chartAnxietyDepression
Introduction Anxiety is an unpleasant state of inner turmoil, often accompanied by nervous behavior, such as pacing back and forth, somatic complaints and rumination. Depression is a state of low mood and aversion to activity that can affect a person's thoughts, behavior, feelings and sense of well-being, often accompanied by low self-esteem and loss of interest.
What one Feels The feeling of nervousness, worry, or unease, usually about an impending event or something having an uncertain outcome. Severe dejection and despondency, usually felt over a certain period of time and followed by feelings of inadequacy hopelessness, often thoughts of suicide.
Primarily characterized by Fear Prolonged sadness that may interfere with life
Causes Chemical changes in the brain; low serotonin levels, change in dopamine and epinephrine Chemical changes in the brain; low serotonin levels, change in dopamine and epinephrine
Mental symptoms Nervousness about a future incident, wanting to run away, avoid things that can cause anxiety Prolonged sadness, hopelessness, indifference, often suicidal thoughts
Physical symptoms Sweating, shaking, restlessness, fast heart rate, bowel issues, hyperventilation Lack of energy, no emotion, insomnia, change in appetite, slow responses, slow thinking, headaches, early-morning wakefulness or excessive sleeping, digestive problems that do not ease with treatment, headaches, cramps.
Treatment options Psychotherapy, cognitive behavioral therapy, stress management exercises and medications Psychotherapy, Cognitive-behavioral therapy, medications, ECT, rTMS and hospitalization.
Focus on Future; fears or is anxious something bad is going to happen Present/past; thinks things are bad already and can't get much worse anyway


Anxiety is characterized by a sense of fear, doubt and vulnerability about future events. The attention of anxious people is focused on something in the future, and fear that it will be bad.

Vincent Van Gogh's famous At Eternity's Gate, said to portray his own depression at the time
Vincent Van Gogh's famous At Eternity's Gate, said to portray his own depression at the time

Depression is not characterized by the fear and uncertainty that anxiety is. Depressed people are not as anxious about the future, as they are dejected about the present, mostly as a result of something that has occurred in the recent or remote past. They don’t expect anything different from the future and may often assume the future to be as bad as the present, or think there's anything worth preventing.

Symptoms of Anxiety vs Depression

Mental Symptoms



Physical Symptoms



Screening Test

The Web-Based Depression and Anxiety Test (WB-DAT) is a clinically accepted[1] series of questions designed to help screen for depression and anxiety disorders. It takes about 15 minutes to complete. It is recommended to show the final report of this test to your doctor.

The video below also provides a brief but insightful glimpse into anxiety and depression:


Some of the common types of anxiety are panic disorder, social anxiety disorder, obsessive compulsive disorder, generalized anxiety disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, and specific phobias. Panic disorder is characterized by a feeling of terror or enhanced worry. Obsessive compulsive disorder causes people to indulge in obsessive behaviors like washing hands frequently, arranging desks or closets, cleaning dust, etc. Social anxiety disorder or social phobia pertains to the fear of being ridiculed or embarrassed in public. Special phobias could be fear of insects, height, water, fire or flying. Post traumatic stress disorder happens to people after they are involved in some natural disaster, accident, physical or sexual abuse. Generalized anxiety disorder is excessive and irrational worry about anything.

The most serious type of depression is major depression disorder, also known as clinical depression. It can seriously inhibit a person’s capability to work, study, eat or sleep. This depression can have drastic effect on a person’s quality of life. Another prolonged type of depression is dysthymia, which is comparatively less serious than major depression but can impact quality of life too. Another type of depression is bipolar depression which is marked by dramatic mood swings, depression and maniacal thinking.


Both anxiety and depression are caused by chemical changes in the brain, specifically the neuro-transmission function. Low serotonin and levels of dopamine and epinephrine are responsible for anxiety and depression.

Treatment Options

Anxiety can be treated with the help of psychotherapy, cognitive behavioral therapy, stress management exercises and medications.

Some of the same treatment methods like psychotherapy, cognitive-behavioral therapy and medications can also help in depression but serious depression may require ECT (electro-convulsive therapy), rTMS (repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation) and hospitalization.

Some of the medication prescribed for anxiety and/or depressive disorders include Lorazepam, Alprazolam (Xanax), Clonazepam (Klonipin), Diazepam (Valium), Prozac and Zoloft. The medication depends on various factors like the type and severity of disorder, the patient's response to the medication, other harmful side effects, among other things.

There are some online screening tests available to help with the diagnoses of some disorders. These tests do not claim to be accurate, but are rather an aid for mental health professionals in their analyses.


According to the National Institute of Mental Health, about 18% (40 million) American adults are affected by anxiety disorders in a year; women are 60% more likely experience an anxiety than men.


Adults between 30-44 years of age are most likely to experience depression, about 120% more than adults over 60 years. Adults 18-29 are 70% more likely and 45-59 years are 100% more likely to experience depression than older adults. Overall, women are 70% more likely to experience depression than men.

Depression among Adults by Age
Depression among Adults by Age
Depression among Adults by Gender
Depression among Adults by Gender


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