While this is definitely an over-simplification and dramatic generalisation, I do like the resonance of it.
Depression can be seen as “living in the past” and ruminating over old mistakes, past transgressions, losses and perceived failures. Perhaps it’s better phrased that those *events* are in the past and they can trigger thoughts which make you more likely to feel depressed.
Anxiety can be seen as worrying about “the future”, what may happen, how we may be perceived, how events may turn out. In our distant past we had to be ever-alert for danger, to the extent that we ran predictions about what may happen. Anxiety is an amplified version of that ancient fear still being played out.
Living “in the past” or “in the future” robs us of the present, and the present is the only actionable time. It can be incredibly helpful to use mindfulness to stay in the present as much as possible and make as much use of the current moment as you can. If you feel yourself being drawn back into old thinking patterns from the past, or about the future, use mindful awareness to bring yourself back to the present.
Remembering that the present is the only actionable moment may help too.
See our full article on Mindfulness for Mental Health.