Stressed, Anxious, Depressed?

What’s the difference between feeling ‘a bit low’, being ‘stressed out’, having ‘anxiety problems’, being ‘mildly depressed’ or being ‘severely depressed’ or even suicidal?
Where to go next: Stress Spirals

Depression vs. ordinary ups and downs

It is normal to feel stressed out when you have a lot on or to have times when you feel a bit low when you’ve experienced a setback. It is also normal to feel a bit nervous or anxious about challenges like exams or presentations. These are signs that are body’s natural stress response is functioning normally.It can be difficult to identify depression because it isn’t a separate state of existence totally different from the everyday ups and downs of life. Everyone has times in their life when things are hard, and when they don’t feel at their best.

Coping vs not coping

If our coping strategies are working well, and if the threats and challenges are not overwhelming, we can deal with the situation and move on. However, if the situation is more complex, or our coping strategies aren’t effective, this normal stress response can go into overdrive or get overloaded. A period of chronic stress can quite often be the starting point for things escalating. This is when we may start to experience problems with chronic anxiety or anger and/or when we can start to get depressed.

Anxiety problems quite often occur leading into or alongside depression, but it is possible to have depression without significant anxiety. Because both anxiety and depression work in self-reinforcing spirals they can easily become worse and worse if nothing is done.

You can use the attached Take Action worksheet to see if depression might be affecting you.

Even if you only have a few of the depression warning signs it is worth using this site to learn about depression and get tips for how to prevent it getting worse. Managing stress levels and dealing early with any sign of problems is very important for everyone’s mental health.

Next: How depression works

Take Action

Depression checklist