difference between anxiety and depression in teens

Depression - Trails CarolinaDepression and anxiety are both major problems in America. Teenagers are hit especially hard with both as they are going through physical, mental, and emotional changes that come with puberty. It is important to be able to at least recognize some of the symptoms of depression and anxiety so as to know when to speak to a professional health care provider about them to ensure that they are getting the help they need.

Depression defined

A mental health disorder is characterized by persistently depressed mood or loss of interest in activities, causing significant impairment in daily life. Possible causes include a combination of biological, psychological, and social sources of distress. Increasingly, research suggests these factors may cause changes in brain function, including the altered activity of certain neural circuits in the brain.

Causes for depression

Depression is linked to many things and thus doesn’t have one specific cause for everyone. There are multiple factors that must be taken into consideration such as genetics, illness, and other health issues, medications including drugs and alcohol, and personalities that are prone to experience depression in the first place. It often isn’t immediately apparent but develops over extended periods of time which makes it even harder to pinpoint specific causes.

Anxiety defined

a feeling of worry, nervousness, or unease, typically about an imminent event or something with an uncertain outcome.

Causes for anxiety

Anxiety is a natural response to stressful situations. For some that might involve social interaction and others that might be thinking about what will happen in the future. Anxiety is often an indicator of an underlying disorder when thoughts and feelings start to have a negative impact on one’s day-to-day life.

Major similarities between anxiety and depression

Both anxiety and depression share many symptoms and causes. They also end up occurring simultaneously which points to similar, or at least corollary, root causes. For those that seek professional help, doctors from many studies have found that at least half of the cases for either anxiety or depression, end up having the other as well.

There is plenty of speculation and hypotheses about why. While it is hard to study the causes in a lab setting, one of the most compelling arguments is that they both have significant overlap in root causes such as humans’ biological reaction to thoughts of death and the future. Similarly, traumatic events often come with a multitude of symptoms so they could be the result of more general trauma to which the brain reacts often in the same way. It is often thought that they can either cause or at least exacerbate one another.

Major differences between Anxiety and Depression

Depression, in a general sense, is a feeling of sadness and depression emotions overall. Often accompanied by a sense of hopelessness, individuals often have intrusive thoughts that linger on negative aspects of their lives. These can even lead to suicidal ideation. Anxiety is more of a general uneasiness and worrying where your body keeps you in a fight or flight response which disrupts your natural bodily processes such as heart rate and digestion. If left unchecked, these can also lead to long-term issues of general deterioration of mental and physical health. Both can lead to extreme tiredness and fatigue as your body is not functioning properly. Though with depression, those feelings are more overarching vs anxiety is typically more short-term.

Steps for Treatment

Therapy is always a recommended first approach for the treatment of both disorders. Sometimes discussing with a mental health professional can uncover ill-conceived notions about self-treatment that can be fixed and more productive coping mechanisms can be put in place. Medication is another alternative where one needs to be prescribed something to help correct chemical imbalances in the brain and body to give the patient a return to normalcy with which to address the other outlying problems. The most effective approach is often some combination of the two so that the medicines can alleviate symptoms to make it easier to establish healthy coping strategies to deal with the lingering intrusive thoughts, pervasive fatigue, or other lingering issues. Medications often facilitate higher neuroplasticity which is the brain’s ability to change its physical structure. This allows a patient to unlearn many of the negative behaviors quicker to allow for a shorter time to heal overall.

Seeking alternative treatment

Sometimes we need more intervening therapy than seeing someone a few times a month. In these instances, a unique approach might make the most sense. Trails Carolina operates a wilderness therapy program that couples the benefits of therapy with being in nature. This enhances the overall experience and gives teens the opportunity to thrive and transition back into their day-to-day lives. Learn more about Trails Carolina here.


About admin

The team behind Your Little Professor is dedicated to providing factual information for parents and caretakers of adolescents on the Autism Spectrum Disorder. We believe in connecting families to the necessary resources in order to help individuals on the spectrum succeed in day-to-day life.