Exploring 15 Symptoms Of Depression And Anxiety

Medically reviewed by Paige Henry, LMSW, J.D.
Updated April 30, 2024by BetterHelp Editorial Team
Content warning: Please be advised, the below article might mention substance use-related topics that could be triggering to the reader. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance use, contact SAMHSA’s National Helpline at 1-800-662-HELP (4357). Support is available 24/7. Please see our Get Help Now page for more immediate resources.

Anxiety and depression are the most common mental illnesses in the US, and their prevalence is rising. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that there has been a significant increase in the percentage of people in America exhibiting signs of anxiety or depression since 2020.

Anxiety and depression can each have a profound impact on work, school, relationships, and personal life, so it can be valuable to receive a proper diagnosis to take steps to manage your mental health. One of the first steps in reaching out for support may be understanding whether your symptoms align with those commonly associated with anxiety and depressive disorders.

Getty/Sarah Waiswa
Do you have symptoms of anxiety or depression?

The differences between depression and anxiety symptoms

Anxiety and depression-related symptoms may take different forms depending on age, gender, socialization, cultural background, and personal differences unique to each individual. For example, in men, anxiety and depression can manifest as anger, irritability, and reckless behavior. Women might be more likely to exhibit symptoms like feelings of worthlessness, guilt, and persistent fatigue. Symptoms can vary in children and young adults from separation anxiety and clinginess to defiant behavior and trouble in school.

If you are concerned that your child could be experiencing anxiety or depression, consider looking into children's mental health and bringing up any concerns with their primary care provider. For older adults and seniors, depression and anxiety symptoms can include memory loss, substance misuse, and loss of interest in hobbies and activities. Many people want to avoid feeling like a burden in these situations, but reaching out for help can often be meaningful and life-changing. 

The presence of certain cognitive, emotional, and physical symptoms could signal that an individual is living with an anxiety or depressive disorder. There are several conditions that fall under these broad categories. 

Depressive disorders

An individual who has experienced feelings of sadness and hopelessness, lost interest in previously enjoyed activities, and undergone physical changes (e.g., weight gain/loss) may be living with a depressive disorder. People with a family history of depression are at increased risk of developing a depressive disorder. For many individuals, these genetic factors may combine with other biological factors (e.g., abnormalities in brain function) and environmental influences (e.g., heart disease), causing depression. The following are two of the most common depressive disorders. 

Major depressive disorder

Characterized by low mood, decreased energy levels, fatigue, and loss of interest, major depressive disorder is a serious mental health condition that can significantly impact an individual’s well-being and ability to function. According to the fifth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-V, American Psychiatric Publishing Inc., 2013), major depressive disorder may be diagnosed if depression occurs most of the day, every day, for a two-week period. 

Persistent depressive disorder

People living with less-severe depression symptoms may be experiencing persistent depressive disorder. Individuals with persistent depressive disorder usually have a depressed mood for longer periods than those with major depressive disorder. 

Anxiety disorders

According to the World Health Organization, anxiety disorders are the most prevalent mental health conditions globally. Like depression, anxiety is thought to be caused by a mix of biological factors (e.g., genetics, alterations in brain structure and function) and environmental influences (e.g., financial problems, the use of recreational drugs, a medical condition). While the symptoms an individual experiences will typically depend on the disorder, feelings of tension and nervousness—along with cognitive symptoms like trouble focusing—are common across most types of anxiety. The following are two common anxiety disorders. 

Generalized anxiety disorder

Marked by excessive worry and nervousness, generalized anxiety disorder is a common mental health condition, with symptoms that can arise out of varying situations. To be diagnosed with generalized anxiety disorder, an individual must experience symptoms most days for a six-month period. 

Social anxiety disorder

Also called social phobia, social anxiety disorder is a condition characterized by intense nervousness and worry in social situations. Symptoms of social anxiety often occur due to an individual’s recurrent thoughts that other people are evaluating them negatively.  

Common symptoms of depressive and anxiety disorders

While mental illness varies from person to person, there are a few common signs of depression in men, women, and non-binary individuals, as well as psychosomatic symptoms to look for. The following are common symptoms of anxiety and depressive disorders. 

Excessive worrying

Excessive worrying can be a common symptom of anxiety which may also occur with depression. While some worry may be a regular part of everyday life, people going through anxiety experience excessive worry, including negative thoughts about subjects that others might not find significant. These worries are often intrusive and can affect your thoughts and emotions even when you try multiple techniques to avoid them.

Getty

Feeling restless or on edge

Feelings of unexplained restlessness and tension can be another common symptom of anxiety. Restlessness can include a sense of impending doom or disaster, sometimes accompanied by fear or panic. These feelings can be concentrated on a specific event, like the loss of a job or a natural disaster, or they can be abstract. If you feel like you're constantly waiting for the other shoe to drop, you may be living with an anxiety disorder. These feelings can also occur with depression when an individual feels bored or struggles to complete tasks they may have once enjoyed. 

Muscle tension

Muscle tension is a physical symptom often accompanying mental health issues, including anxiety and depression. This constant tension can leave you feeling sore and physically exhausted, even when you haven't been physically active. This prolonged tension can often be the source of chronic pain and other recurring illnesses. Consult your primary care physician for support if you're concerned about your muscle tension. 

Feelings of worthlessness

People living with depression and anxiety often experience a persistent feeling of worthlessness and low self-esteem. This feeling can be general or related to a specific area, such as work, school, or personal relationships. While many people go through periods of self-doubt and uncertainty, the symptoms experienced by those coping with depression tend to be more intense and persist regardless of external factors.

Excessive guilt

Like feelings of worthlessness, excessive guilt can be another common symptom of depression. People may feel guilty for actions they have or haven't taken, often dwelling on past actions to an unhealthy extent. People can also feel guilty about their mental illness and how it affects their personal and professional lives. 

These feelings of guilt can be compounded by the other common symptoms of depression, such as withdrawal from personal relationships and failure to fulfill obligations at work and school. Guilt over symptoms of depression can be a vicious cycle, so it may be valuable to reach out to a licensed therapist if you're experiencing it. 

Withdrawing from family or friends

If you withdraw from relationships with friends and families, you could be going through depression. Those living with depression often remove themselves from otherwise happy, healthy relationships and struggle to form new connections with others.

These individuals may feel like a burden to those who care about them or feel too exhausted and overwhelmed to manage more social interaction. Lack of close relationships can also be a factor that leads to depression. Regardless, social withdrawal can often further exacerbate existing mental illness because humans biologically need connections with others to stay healthy. 

Getty/AnnaStills
Do you have symptoms of anxiety or depression?

Reckless behavior

Mental illness often accompanies reckless behavior, including increased substance use and unsafe sex. Symptoms might also include risk-taking activities like reckless driving or getting into physical conflicts. More common in men than in women, these behaviors can often be dangerous in addition to acting as a warning sign of mental health issues. Consider seeking support if you find yourself drawn to reckless behaviors regardless of the consequences. 

Fatigue

One of the most common symptoms of depression and anxiety is fatigue, lethargy, and constant tiredness. If you feel like it's a struggle to get out of bed each morning or do anything other than the bare minimum, it could be a symptom of depression and anxiety. 

These feelings of tiredness and exhaustion can encompass both physical and mental sensations and can often negatively impact your professional and personal life. While chronic fatigue can have other medical causes, including autoimmune disorders and other issues, it can be worth having a professional check to ensure you aren't experiencing a mental illness.

Changes in sleep patterns

Another frequent symptom of depression and anxiety is a significant change in sleep patterns. These changes might mean you're getting more sleep than in the past and finding it challenging to stay awake throughout the day. It can also manifest as persistent difficulty sleeping and insomnia. 

Other common sleep-related symptoms could be trouble falling asleep or waking up earlier than usual. After a stressful or traumatic life event, it can be common to experience disruptions to your sleep. If these symptoms persist, however, you might be living with a mental health condition. Difficulties with sleep can also have an outsized impact on the rest of your day, making it a beneficial symptom to combat.

If you are experiencing trauma, support is available. Please see our Get Help Now page for more resources.

Changes in appetite

If you find yourself constantly overeating or eating much less than you used to, you could be experiencing another common symptom of anxiety and depression. Changes in appetite often accompany other symptoms like restlessness or fatigue. Anxiety and depression can also occur alongside eating disorders like anorexia, bulimia, or binge eating disorder, which can be dangerous. 

Anger and irritability

Anger and irritability can be common symptoms of major depression and anxiety, often among men. These symptoms can also significantly impact your relationships with others, potentially making it more difficult to seek support. 

Physical pain

While depression and anxiety are mental illnesses, they can often have persistent physical symptoms. Physical pain, including headaches, cramps, and muscle soreness, may accompany other psychological symptoms. If you're in pain and can't identify a clear physical cause, it could be a symptom of an underlying mental health condition. 

Persistent sadness

While it may be normal to experience sadness and melancholy after significant life events, feeling constantly sad could signify a more serious concern. Whether you find yourself in the throes of despair or feel like you're in a bad mood all the time for no apparent reason, you could be experiencing depression or anxiety. 

Difficulty concentrating

If you're struggling to concentrate on the task at hand and instead find yourself constantly worrying about other topics or losing focus completely, it could be a sign of anxiety and depression. This symptom can negatively affect work, school, and other areas of performance and can make it more difficult to perform tasks like preparing meals or completing household chores.

Suicidal ideation

One of the most serious symptoms of mental health issues like anxiety and depression can be suicidal ideation. This symptom can take the form of persistent suicidal thoughts or plans to attempt suicide. 

If you are experiencing suicidal thoughts or urges, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255) or text 988 to talk to someone over SMS. Support is available 24/7.

Through the crisis lifeline listed above, you can connect with a health care professional, join a support group, and find additional resources for addressing mental health challenges.  

What does it mean if you have the above symptoms?

While any of these symptoms taken individually may or may not be a sign of mental illness, if you're experiencing several of the above symptoms, consider taking an anxiety or depression screening with your doctor or a therapist. A healthcare professional can determine whether a more thorough medical and mental health evaluation is necessary and, potentially, provide a diagnosis and treatment plan. 

While these mental health conditions are common, they are also treatable through various methods, including anxiety or depression talk therapy and certain medications. Antidepressant medications—like selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors and tricyclic antidepressants—are often used to treat depressive and anxiety disorders. The American Psychiatric Association notes that most individuals treated for depression experience a reduction in their symptoms. 

Additionally, certain lifestyle changes, such as getting enough sleep and maintaining healthy eating habits, can help individuals who feel depressed or anxious alleviate their symptoms. Seeking social support can also help limit the effects of a depressive or anxiety disorder. Your support network may consist of friends, family members, a spiritual leader, a mental health professional, and other people who can provide you with guidance and care. 

Connect with a mental health professional online

When you're struggling with symptoms of anxiety and depression, leaving the house or organizing appointments can be difficult. In these cases, it may be beneficial to reach out to a therapist online through a counseling platform like BetterHelp. With an online platform, you can specify your needs upon signing up and get matched with a therapist unique to your preferences. In addition, you don't need a diagnosis to get started. 

Online-based therapy interventions have grown in popularity in recent years. They can be utilized to manage a wide range of psychiatric disorders, including anxiety and depression. One study found that an internet-based cognitive behavioral therapy program successfully treated symptoms of anxiety and depression, reducing their prevalence and severity similarly to face-to-face therapy. 

Takeaway

Anxiety and depression are two mental health conditions that can present unique challenges for individuals struggling with them. At times, these two conditions can co-occur. If they are left unaddressed, several physical and mental health symptoms can result. 

Consider seeking support from a professional, like a licensed online therapist, if you struggle to cope with mental health concerns. A therapist can offer you new techniques for coping with depression that may help you develop lasting symptom remission.

Depression is treatable, and you're not alone
The information on this page is not intended to be a substitution for diagnosis, treatment, or informed professional advice. You should not take any action or avoid taking any action without consulting with a qualified mental health professional. For more information, please read our terms of use.
You don't have to face depression aloneGet started