Are You Depressed or Just Anxious?

Are You Depressed or Just Anxious?

You may be feeling stressed during this time due to isolation, fear of illness, lost income, social unrest, injustice, etc. but you have a lot of company. The Journal of American Medical Association (JAMA) reports half of U.S. adults surveyed say they have felt some signs of depression (hopelessness, feeling like a failure and getting little pleasure out of doing things), which is double the rate from a similar survey two years ago. The good news is, experts say the problem is angst, rather than clinical depression, for most people, but how can you know the difference? (Take our health risk assessment).

Palomar Health Behavioral Health Program Supervisor Stephanie Sambrano (a licensed marriage and family therapist) says there are signs to look for.

“If you are experiencing a change in daily habits… appetite, mood, sleep, daily hygiene, interacting with others, work… it’s a sign you need to seek professional help,” Sambrano said.

She said friends will often notice mood changes before you do.

“Friends can provide really valuable support – I think that’s a huge part of coping with stress,” Sambrano said.

But she cautions against taking specific advice from friends who may have their own agenda.

“I encourage a therapist because they are able to have a more neutral perspective…and they can coach you on coping skills,” Sambrano says. 

You can learn some of these coping skills on your own through computer applications. Mindfulness is a hot topic right now, and there are lots of books and journals that walk you through the techniques. However, if you reach a point where you feel you can’t cope on your own, therapy may be a good option. It is becoming more socially acceptable and accessible through virtual sessions.

“You don’t have to be experiencing clinical depression to get therapy,” said Sambrano. “It can be a good outlet or good routine to have, just a place to check-in with your emotions. You have a designated time each week to examine your feelings.”

If you aren’t sure what you need, you can often ask a therapist for a free consult. To find a therapist, Sambrano says call your insurance company or look online at or

For peer support, call 800-930-9276. If you don’t have insurance and want a referral to free services, call 2-1-1. If you are in a crisis, call the Access and Crisis Line at 888-724-7240.