HUNTSVILLE, Ala. — According to the Centers of Disease Control, 1 in 5 Americans currently live with mental illness. Of that number, the two most common diagnoses are anxiety disorders and depression. While they share many similar qualities, they are also extremely different from each other.
The American Psychological Association defines depression, also known as major depressive disorder, as a common and serious medical illness that negatively affects how you feel, think, and act..
"You can have suicidal thoughts," explained Cheneka Moss, licensed counselor at Huntsville Psychotherapy & Counseling Services. "You can lose your appetite. You can eat a whole lot. It can cause a lot of stress. It'll put you in the state of having irrational thoughts, 'I'm not good enough. My family doesn't love me.'"
The APA also says that anxiety disorders differ from everyday feelings of nervousness and anxiousness.
"You get into a place where irrational thoughts come into play and you kind of don't know how to settle yourself," Moss said. "You think that everybody may be against you, or you really don't know how to do things."
While depression involves more changes in mood, and anxiety involves overthinking, the two disorders can run into each other - that is, someone with depression may also battle with underlying issues of anxiety, and vice-versa.
Moss provides a sample case:
"Let's say somebody is very, very depressed about what's going on in their life. And so they start to overthink, they start to self-harm, and they start to have suicidal ideation. They start to isolate themselves from one another because they're so anxious about what it is that's going on."
Whether diagnosed or not, health experts urge you to reach out for professional help if you experience any feelings of depression or anxiety.
"Find you a professional to talk to, someone outside of your family," said Moss. "We serve as a non-biased entity and that's why we do what we do."