Differences between Depression and Stress Disorder

22 January, 2019

Everyone goes through periods of depression, anxiety or stress every once in a while. However, the difference is that some people are able to cope up and get over it in a few days time while in others, it might become chronic and last from weeks to months; they might even need medical treatment to overcome these mental states.

To begin with, what is stress? It’s a feeling of being under too much mental or emotional pressure, consciously or unconsciously due to some life event that has left a mark on your mind. While stress isn’t a disorder, it sure can become one if left to become chronic. It can produce symptoms of constant headaches, mood swings, high blood pressure, palpitations, chest pain, insomnia and a sense of low self-esteem.

Depression on the other hand, results from withholding or repressing emotions from expressing themselves. It’s rarely logical and hence often feels out of control, where you feel it can’t be ‘fixed’. Depression also makes you feel fatigued, disrupts your sleep and leads to illogical thoughts. One of the biggest drawbacks of depression is negative thinking, an emotion that can spiral into self-destructive thoughts like suicide and needs urgent attention.

Sometimes, the line between depression and stress disorders seems very thin, and this is because the two can be inter-linked. Stress can lead to depression and sometimes one can get stressed because they think they are depressed; then there are people who get more depressed after an event that leaves them stressed!

All this means is that chronic stress can cause depression if left untreated; stress disorders also lead to anxiety, and anxiety itself is also known to be a trigger for depression. Many people with depression have a known history of anxiety disorder at some point in their life. Interestingly, both depression and stress disorders can affect your brain in similar ways such as your mood, energy levels as well as sleep patterns; they both disturb normal functioning, socializing, appetite as well as the ability to concentrate. It then stands to reason that both can be dealt with effectively in a similar manner too – with self-care, a balanced lifestyle, talking therapies, medications and mindfulness.

However, there are some clear differences too that segregate stress and depression into two different conditions. While stress is related to life events and gets resolved when conditions change, depression can still go on for years. Stress can lead to anxiety and put you at risk of a heart attack, but depression can lead to suicidal self-destructive thoughts when left untreated. Stress disorders are also related to recent or current events while depression is linked to unresolved issues from the past. You can experience adrenaline highs followed by a crash when stressed, but with depression, there are only feelings of debilitating fatigue.

And finally, while stress is socially acceptable by the society, depression is sadly considered a social stigma….