What is the difference between depression and anxiety? A Nigerian therapist tells us all we need to know about mental illnesses

People often mix up depression and anxiety
  • According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), about four percent of Nigerians deal with depression.
  • The popular body also found that an additional 4,894,557 Nigerians (2.7 percent of the population) suffer from anxiety disorders.
  • While these are two different medical conditions, people often mix them up. Nigerian therapist/counsellor Olugbile Holloway discusses the differences between the two.

With the growing conversation around mental health issues, depression and anxiety have become two of the most common ones. 

They have become so popular that people tend to still struggle sometimes to determine the difference between these two mental conditions. One reason for this confusion could be because people with anxiety sometimes develop depression and vice versa. 

Still, it is important to know that these are still two standalone medical conditions. Olugbile Holloway, a Counsellor/Therapist and Founder of Hidden Conversations tells Business Insider Sub Saharan Africa the major difference between depression and anxiety.


In his words, “Depression exhibits what is described as comorbidity, this means that the depression is usually closely linked to a secondary mental health illness that opens the door for the depression in the first place. Anxiety is a normal human condition, we all feel anxious about something at one point or the other. 

“What isn’t normal is what we call an Anxiety disorder, this form of anxiety is often characterized by an excessive feeling of fear or an irrational amount of fear that starts to interfere with a person’s daily life. This excess fear may cause a person to become socially isolated and overtime, this isolation may open the door for depression.”

Other types of mental illnesses

The therapist also schooled us on the other two most common types of mental health problems. They are Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and Addiction.


According to Holloway, PTSD “usually occurs after a person has had a traumatic experience and the memory of that experience haunts the person and interferes with their daily living. It was first discovered after the Second World War amongst soldiers that returned from the battlefront, it was called “Shell Shock” back then.”

He added that “PTSD can be any traumatic event like sexual abuse, exposure to extreme violence, or a high level of uncertainty about one's survival.”

Addiction, on the hand, is “basically the reliance on a substance or activity to the point where a person can no longer control their urges and so feels the need to indulge once the urge arises. Addictions vary from cigarettes, drugs, sex, adrenaline, the list of things a person can become addicted to is endless.”

It is important to remember to see a doctor or mental health professional for a proper evaluation if you notice any symptoms.


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