Anxiety and depression: toward overlapping and distinctive features

Michael Eysenck, Małgorzata Fajkowskab

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This Special Issue of Cognition and Emotion addresses one of the cardinal
concerns of affective science, which is overlapping and distinctive features of
anxiety and depression. A central finding in the study of anxiety and
depression is that they are moderately highly correlated with each other. This
leads us to the question: What is behind this co-occurrence? Possible
explanations relate to poor discriminant validity of measures; both emotional
states are associated with negative affect; stressful life events; impaired
cognitive processes; they share a common biological/genetic diathesis.
However, despite a set of common (nonspecific) features, anxiety and
depression are clearly not identical emotional states. Differences between them
might be best viewed, for example, through their heterogeneous and multilayered
nature, adaptive functions and relations with regulatory processes,
positive affect, and motivation or complex cognitive processes. In this
introduction we consider several approaches (e.g. functional approach; tripartite
model and content-specificity hypothesis) to which most research in this
Special Issue is relevant. In addition, setting out the “ground rules” for the
debate on the aforementioned topic, we have asked contributors to this Special
Issue to indicate how their own studies on comparisons between anxiety and
depression and models on anxiety and depression move this area of research
to more mature science with applicability.
Original languageEnglish
JournalCognition & Emotion
Publication statusPublished - 13 Jun 2017


  • Anxiety;
  • depression
  • overlapping and distinctive features
  • theoretical approaches

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