Are You Depressed or Stressed?

If you are feeling overwhelmed by stress, you are not alone. Stress is good if it motivates you but not, if it wears you down. Many reasons can contribute to your stressful experiences, and this can cause changes in your body that affect your overall physical, mental, and emotional health. Depression is more detrimental than stress, and necessitates a different kind of help.

In a 2010 survey by the American College Health Association, 28% of college students reported feeling so depressed at some point they encountered issues functioning, and 8% sought treatment. It is said that “’People can become deeply disappointed. These people are unhappy, not depressed”. So what is the difference?

Depression is a chronic condition that can have numerous clinical components like a neuro-chemical imbalance or a genetic predilection. Unhappiness is a state of mind associated with a individual’s perspective of the world. Stress can be a major contributor. Whilst a bit of stress is ordinary, acute stress can be problematic and an antecedent. Additionally, certain areas of functioning be impacted. For stress, this can be short-term whereas depression, this can be long-term.

Common Signs – Stress

  • Trouble sleeping
  • Feeling overwhelmed
  • Problems with memory & concentrating
  • Change in eating habits
  • Feeling nervous / anxious
  • Feeling angry, irritable / easily frustrated
  • Feeling burnt out
  • Feeling that you can’t overcome difficulties in your life
  • Trouble functioning in class or in your personal life

Common Signs – Depression

  • Withdrawing from others
  • Feeling sad and hopeless
  • Lack of energy, enthusiasm and motivation
  • Trouble making decisions
  • Being restless, agitated / irritable
  • Change in eating & sleeping habits
  • Trouble in concentration & memory
  • Feeling bad about yourself / guilty / anger / rage / that you can’t overcome difficulties in your life
  • Trouble functioning in your class or in your personal life
  • Suicidal ideation

Remember, high levels of stress, depression and other mental health conditions are nothing to be ashamed of. It is not a sign of weakness, and seeking help is a sign of strength. Telling someone you are struggling is the first step toward feeling better.

Written by

Dr Felicia Neo
PhD (Clinical Psychology & Neuroscience)
PGDip (Clinical Psychology)
BA (Psych & Mass Communications)
Clinical Psychologist, Neuroscientist




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