Depression can be like an old blanket -- a smothering, sometimes comforting cloak between you and the world. Unfortunately, getting free of its symptoms is not as simple as crawling out from under the blanket. Most people experience ups and downs in the journey from depression. The fluctuations are normal, and professionals have ways of dealing with them.
Anxiety is a normal reaction to stress, but when it takes on a life of its own it becomes an unhealthy, generalized reaction that affects the body and mind. Symptoms can include rapid heartbeat, aches and pains, and muscle tension.
According to the National Institute of Mental Health, more than 18% of adults in the United States suffer from an anxiety disorder in any given year, and anxiety disorders are prevalent in 25% of children ages 13 to 18. Like depression, anxiety is thought to arise from a combination of both genetic and environmental factors.
What Is an Anxiety Disorder?
Although anxiety is not always present in depressive disorders, most of the time it lurks beneath the surface. But true depression differs from an anxiety disorder in that a depressed mood is typically its most obvious symptom, whereas anxiety is the primary sign of an authentic anxiety disorder.
Previously, two other conditions -- obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) and posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) -- had been classified by the American Psychiatric Association as being subtypes of anxiety disorders. However, in the most recent edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5), each of these conditions is now classified as its own separate type of disorder.
Anxiety disorders affect women twice as frequently as they do men. And many studies show that people with depression often experience symptoms of an anxiety disorder.
An anxiety disorder that's left untreated can cause unnecessary suffering and impairment for both the person who has one and the person's family.