Anxiety is an uneasy feeling of worry, apprehension, and distress, often about the future. Psychiatrists sometimes distinguish between anxiety, which can be thought of as a reaction to an ambiguous or imagined danger, and fear, which is a response to a real threat.

Depression, especially as laypersons use the term is a bleak mood typically characterized by discouragement, sadness, or despair. In a sense, anxiety, with its finger-drumming restlessness, and depression, with its hopeless inertia, are quite different, which is why psychiatrists classify anxiety disorders Separately from depressive disorders. Yet the two feeling states so frequently overlap and co-exist that the difference between anxiety and depressive disorders is confusing. The primary diagnosis is based on the answer to a simple question: in the life history of the patient, which state did the patient experience first?

Thus, in anxiety disorders, anxiety is the primary symptom and often the first symptom, even though frequently secondary depression is present. Anxiety disorders include:

• general anxiety disorder

• panic disorder

• obsessive-compulsive disorder

• post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

In depressive disorders, the depressed mood usually appears first as the primary symptom and is normally the most important part of the illness. However, although anxiety is not always present in depressive disorders, most of the time it lurks beneath the surface in varying degrees and may be present as one of a number of symptoms within the depressive syndrome.


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