How are Anxiety and Depression Treated?

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Depression and anxiety can often go hand in hand. In fact, it's been determined that 45 percent of people with one of these mental health conditions also meet the criteria for the other.

Although each of these conditions appears differently in everyone, they may share similarities in regards to treatment. In some cases, the symptoms of one disorder may be more prevalent or overwhelming that it gets treated before addressing the other one. Read on to learn more about the differences between anxiety and depression and what to expect from treatment.

Understanding Depression and Anxiety

While some symptoms of anxiety and depression overlap, like having trouble sleeping, feeling irritable, or difficulty focusing, there are several critical differences in differentiating between the two.


Symptoms of depression can manifest in many ways and are often overlooked until they be-come severe. They build gradually over time and can ultimately become debilitating and disrupt your day-to-day functioning. The DSM-5 describes clinical depression, or major depressive dis-order to classify and diagnose depression, and can include any of the following symptoms:

  • Reduced energy, chronic tiredness, or fatigue
  • Trouble focusing, feeling indecisive
  • Unusual physical pain, like headaches, stomachaches, or digestive issues without any apparent cause
  • Changes in appetite
  • Trouble sleeping-falling or staying asleep
  • Loss of interest in things you used to find enjoyable
  • Low mood, persistent feelings of sadness or numbness
  • Feelings of hopelessness
  • Irritability or restlessness


We all get anxious from time to time. A healthy amount of anxiety can be helpful in various ways, but just like depression, it can become debilitating and disruptive. If anxiety becomes an issue, the effects can be physical, behavioral, and emotional. Additionally, anxiety can play a central role in triggering depression.

Physical and Behavioral Symptoms:

  • Feeling fatigued easily
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Muscle tension
  • Racing heart
  • Grinding teeth
  • Sleep difficulties, including problems falling asleep or feeling restless

Emotional Symptoms:

  • Restlessness, irritability, or feeling on edge
  • Difficulty controlling worry or fear
  • Dread
  • Panic

Treatment Options

As with any illness, treatment is tailored towards a diagnosis and your specific needs and goals. You and your therapist will address the more prevalent condition first, but it's not uncommon to start treatment for both depression and anxiety simultaneously.

In many cases, symptoms of both conditions can improve with psychotherapy, medication, or a combination of both. Some therapeutic interventions, like Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, are effective in treating both anxiety and depression. CBT can help you get to the root cause of your anxiety and symptoms of depression while learning new coping strategies.

Medications can also be helpful. Research has shown that both anxiety and depression respond well to selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) and serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitor (SNRI) medications.

The Bottom Line

With treatment, the heavyweight of both anxiety and depression can be lifted. Early intervention can prevent issues from worsening later in life. Whatever the diagnosis you’re attempting to treat–anxiety, depression, or both–the most important thing you can do is seek professional treatment as early as possible.