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Stress and depression are another pair of easily confused words. The symptoms of stress and depression are very similar in many ways and this thus is the root cause of confusion between the two.
What are Stress And Depression
Stress is the response of your body to the demands placed on it. According to Hans Selye, it is the feeling you get inside as a result of all the challenges and demands (stressors) placed on you from an external source.
There can be positive effects of stress as well as negative effects of stress. Stress is good if it motivates you to achieve your goal. But it’s bad if it wears you down. Many factors can contribute to the stress you experience, and this stress can cause changes in your body that affect your overall physical, mental, and emotional health.
Stress is a normal physical and psychological reaction to positive or negative situations in your life (e.g. a new job or the death of a loved one).
Chronic Stress, Mayo Clinic
According to the American Psychiatric Association, depression (a major depressive disorder) is a serious medical illness that negatively affects your feelings, your way of thinking and your actions.
Depression can be referred to as a state of low mood and aversion to activity. It can affect a person’s behavior, feelings, thoughts, and sense of well-being.
Depression causes a loss of interest in activities you may have once enjoyed and/or feelings of sadness. It can also lead to a range of emotional and physical problems. And, like stress, it can decrease one’s ability to function properly at work and at home.
Is Stress Depression?
Stress and depression are similar in a lot of ways that someone who’s depressed can often mistake their symptoms for stress.
- Both are very common (especially among students).
28% of college students reported feeling so depressed to the extent that they had difficulty functioning, and 8% went on to seek treatment for depression.
The American College Health Association, 2010 Survey.
in the spring of 2009, a poll conducted showed that 85% of students say they experience stress on a daily basis.
mtvU and the Associated Press
- Both affect your feelings, your way of thinking and your actions.
When someone’s stressed, they appreciate some time to themselves to relax. Well, a depressed individual likes to shy away from attention and draw into themselves.
Depressed and stressed people tend to have trouble sleeping (sleep more or less than usual).
- Both can decrease one’s ability to function.
A Close-Up Look At The Difference Between Stress and Depression
How do you tell the difference between stress and depression? Both can affect you in similar ways, but there are key differences.
First of all, depression is more serious and long-lasting than stress. Where stress symptoms last for a short while, symptoms of depression can be much more intense. They last for up to at least two weeks
Secondly, they both can induce mood changes. However, depression causes much more powerful mood changes, such as painful sadness and despair.
Thirdly, stress is something you can snap out of by yourself with proper stress management if you are determined enough. But depression is not and requires a different kind of help. You will need the aid of a mental health professional in order to beat depression. Talk therapy, antidepressant medication or a combination of both can be very effective means of treatment.
Symptoms Of Depression To Look Out For
- Do you find yourself withdrawing from other people?
- Have you ever been overcome by a feeling sad and hopeless?
- Was there ever a time when you felt the lack of energy, enthusiasm, and motivation?
- Often have trouble making decisions
- Being restless, agitated and irritable
- Eating more or less than usual
- Sleeping more or less than usual
- Trouble concentrating
- Trouble with memory
- Feeling bad about yourself or feeling guilty
- Anger and rage
- Feeling that you can’t overcome difficulties in your life
- Trouble functioning in your class or in your personal life
- Do you find yourself having suicidal thoughts?
Disclaimer: These symptoms can also indicate stress. You can be certain it is depression if they last for two weeks or more. If they do, seek medical assistance as soon as possible.
One Final Note
Chronic stressful life situations can increase the risk of the development of depression (if one does not cope well with stress). However, it is important to note that depression has many possible causes, such as brain chemicals, genetics, and your life situation – not just stress. And just like stress levels can be reduced, depression can be overcome.
Also, you should not be ashamed of depression and other mental health conditions. Admitting that you may be depressed is not a sign of weakness. Rather, by seeking help, you are showcasing strength. Because telling someone you are struggling with it is the first step toward feeling better.
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