Depression, anxiety and panic: know the differences and symptoms

Today, we will investigate and discuss anxiety, panic and depression , as they are some of the most common emotional disorders.

Emotional disorders are psychological dysfunctions that cause a lot of pain and suffering. Therefore, they are often accompanied by physical symptoms and are generally associated with depression.

Today, you will discover the differences between anxiety, panic and depression, and what’s more, you will understand how the diagnosis is made, what the symptoms, causes and, of course, the main treatment options are.

Depression, anxiety and panic: are they all the same?

The speedy answer is no. Despite the fact that depression, anxiety and panic condition are all psychological issues, they have various characteristics. In fact, the three circumstances are part of a wide variety of mental issues.

What are mental disorders

These are changes in thoughts, emotions and behavior that cause extreme distress and negatively interfere with someone’s daily life.

Depression is perhaps the most popular example of this kind of problem, yet as we already know, it isn’t the only one. Unfortunately, it is not just anxiety and panic syndrome that accompany depression in the world of mental disorders.

We could give other examples: social phobia, bipolar affective disorder, manic disorders and many others. two

Since the term defines a wide variety of problems related to mental health, it is quite difficult to differentiate. But this is a challenge we will accept!

But we will do this little by little, because first, we will establish the difference between depression, anxiety and panic:

Definitions of depression, anxiety and panic

It is very important to understand the difference between the different types of emotional disorders, as this makes it easier to adopt preventive measures against triggers and crises. Likewise, the investigation of possible causes becomes much more uncomplicated, which favors the indication of more appropriate treatments.


Depression is a psychiatric and chronic illness. Completely different from that sadness we all feel from time to time.

In cases of depression, sadness (which is natural due to something bad that happened to us) simply doesn’t go away . Emotional discomfort may even have no apparent reason.

Some symptoms of depression include:

  • Insomnia;
  • Irritability, anxiety and anguish;
  • Discouragement, fatigue and easy tiredness;
  • Lack of interest and lack of motivation;
  • Feelings of fear and insecurity;
  • Pessimism, guilt and low self-esteem;
  • Feeling of uselessness and failure;
  • Decreased desire and difficulties in sexual performance;
  • Loss or increase in appetite and weight;
  • Thoughts regarding suicide.

Normal anxiety x generalized anxiety disorder

Anxiety is a relatively natural state of mind. The expectation regarding an important event such as an entrance exam, a possible promotion at work, a visit from someone special, are all situations that really affect our emotions.

However, it is important to pay attention to whether this feeling – which should be a mix of expectation, joy and a slight concern – becomes a reason for suffering.

People who have an anxiety disorder feel extreme worry and fear in simple , routine situations. Some have physical symptoms, which disrupt their daily activities and become a great agony.

Also known as (GAD), generalized anxiety disorder is a state of persistent anxiety that is difficult to control. For diagnosis, this feeling must be present for at least six months and be accompanied by three or more of the following symptoms:

  •  Restlessness;
  • Fatigue;
  • Irritability;
  • Difficulty concentrating;
  • Muscle tension;
  • Sleep disturbance.

Psychological symptoms of anxiety

  • Constant tension or nervousness;
  • Feeling that something bad is going to happen;
  • Constant fear;
  • Loss of control over thoughts, especially difficulty forgetting what worries the person;
  • Problems sleeping;
  • Irritability.

Physical symptoms of anxiety

  • Chest pain or tightness and increased heart rate;
  • Panting or shortness of breath;
  • Increased sweating;
  • Shaking of the arms and legs;
  • Feeling of weakness or tiredness;
  • Dry mouth;
  • Cold or sweaty hands and feet;
  • Nausea;
  • Stomach pain or diarrhea.

One of the great aggravating factors of anxiety is that – without adequate treatment and control – it can evolve into other manifestations of emotional disorders, such as panic syndrome , which we will talk about below. Check out:


Panic syndrome is a worsening of anxiety. In other words, they are sudden attacks of acute anxiety , marked by a lot of fear and despair, associated with terrifying physical and emotional symptoms.

In the syndrome (or panic disorder) the person has crises where fear is the main feeling. For example: fear of losing control, fear of having a heart attack, fear of going crazy.

Before that, it’s worth talking a little about the specific symptoms of panic syndrome:

  • Feeling of being in danger;
  • Fear of losing control;
  • Fear of death or tragedy;
  • Difficulty breathing, shortness of breath and suffocation;
  • Chills or hot flashes;
  • Nausea and vomiting;
  • Abdominal pain;
  • Discomfort and pain in the chest;
  • Headache;
  • Sweating;
  • Tremors;
  • Dizziness;
  • Fainting;
  • Sensation of your throat closing;
  • Difficulty swallowing.

Triggers for panic attacks

In the early stages of the disorder, there appears to be no trigger for the attack, so it is very difficult to predict a crisis. Still, there is some evidence that remembering previous panic attacks can contribute to a new attack. As this is a very suffocating event, it is difficult for the person to completely forget about it, which makes it even more difficult for it not to happen again.

Difference between depression and anxiety

By now, you must have already understood the main differences between each of the diseases, right? Even so, we will summarize it for you !

In general, depression is a disease of the organism as a whole, it compromises mood, thinking, self-image and the way of seeing and feeling reality. As it worsens, depression also compromises physical well-being, changing mood, diet and even sleep.

Depression presents varied symptoms, ranging from persistent sadness and negative thoughts to changes in body sensation. We also concluded that it is very important to differentiate common sadness from depression, because this will anticipate and facilitate treatment, making it more efficient.

On the other hand, anxiety (as a disorder and not the “normal” anxiety we all feel) is a very distressing sensation. It brings exaggerated and harmful restlessness and worry . It causes a feeling of urgency and rush. It is intense and long-lasting enough to disrupt normal day-to-day activities . Furthermore, anxiety is also one of the main known mental disorders.

Difference between anxiety and panic

It has also been noticed that anxiety and panic syndrome are associated, although they are not exactly the same thing. All people with panic syndrome suffer from anxiety. But not everyone who has anxiety develops panic syndrome.

Panic syndrome is a more advanced stage of anxiety. It happens when a sudden and uncontrollable fear takes over a person , causing them to develop serious physical symptoms, such as shortness of breath, tachycardia, mental disorientation and other sensations of agony and dread.

Therefore, the main difference between anxiety and panic syndrome is the intensity of the symptoms and the fact that the panic attack is very difficult to predict and control.

Relationship between anxiety, depression and panic

Once we establish the differences, and now with greater clarity about the symptoms of each disease, it becomes much easier to talk about the relationship between the three disorders.

It is common for the same individual to be diagnosed with three pathologies: depression, anxiety and panic syndrome. Unfortunately, it is estimated that half of patients with Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) will develop depression – in time, the illness is also known as Major Depressive Disorder (MDD).

Anxiety usually comes right before depression. The logic is relatively simple: advanced anxiety (which may already be associated with panic syndrome) brings intense fears and constant agony. This accumulation of negative and persistent feelings can naturally evolve into depression.

In the midst of all this, there are still genetic factors behind each case. This means that some individuals have a biological predisposition to depression and other anxiety disorders. So it ends up being almost automatic for one thing to lead to another: the individual develops anxiety, which triggers panic syndrome, which in turn will be a trigger for depression.

When a patient has two or three conditions at the same time, symptoms tend to be more severe. The simple fact that the diseases coexist makes the condition more chronic, delays recovery and increases the relapse rate after treatment.

Furthermore, studies show that there is a greater need for hospitalization and a greater number of suicide attempts when there are several associated mental disorders. Therefore, when anxiety, panic syndrome and depression manifest together, they feed on each other, and naturally treatment tends to be more difficult.

Leave a Comment