Stress grabs hold of us at one time or another, but usually we can shake it. With simple management techniques and lifestyle changes, we can kick it to the curb – not necessarily permanently, because it will most likely return when different situations and problems come up – but it’s not something we have to constantly feel. We’re in control of it. But if it hangs on for awhile, and you just can’t get rid of it (or just don’t even have the motivation to do so) it might be depression. Here’s how to tell the difference between the two.
You may not know this, but depression and stress are two of the biggest health epidemics the nation and the world, are facing. The account for billions of dollars in medical costs, sick days and lost productivity. But how do you know if you’re suffering from one or both?
These are all just very general and somewhat vague guidelines and suggestions, of course. Nothing good can come from self diagnosis, that’s what healthcare professionals are for. That being said, an article like this can be a good way to identify some potential red flags and see if a conversation with your doctor or a mental health professional is in order.
What Depression Feels Like
You’re probably depressed if you find yourself experiencing things like a profound, and prolonged negative mood swing. We all get sing the blues on occasion, but If your blues album is on repeat then, you’re probably a little bit depressed to say the least.
If you can’t muster the slightest effort to get out of bed and fight life’s daily battles, that’s another red flag. Again, we all have days where we’d rather not go into work or where we hit the hit the snooze button once (or ten) times, but if you just can’t get yourself going, that’s a problem.
What Stress Feels Like
Conversely, if you’re fuse is always lit or seconds away from going off, you’re probably stressed. Stressed people generally fly off the handle early and often and over things that seem trivial to most people, themselves included. It’s almost as if you’re nerves are fried, and in a way, they are.
Chronic stress levels cause the body to be bombarded with “fight or flight” chemicals. These are the kind of chemicals needed by our ancestors to get the adrenaline rush needed to run away from Saber tooth Tigers, for example. The chemicals usually dissipate in around seventy two hours or so. They are a necessary part of our lives, and fill a necessary purpose both in the past and present day.
The problem is that these chemicals are incredibly powerful and while helpful in small doses they are incredibly toxic to your mind and body over time. The problem is that Sabre tooth Tigers wouldn’t constantly be trying to eat our ancestors in the way that our economic concerns are constantly eating away at our collective consciousness right now. We simply aren’t designed to handle these chemicals on a prolonged basis, yet many of us are constantly marinating in them due to one or more factors.
How The Two Manifest Themselves
Some people suffer from one or the other, or both. And they can manifest themselves in different ways. For example, take the person who hates their job so much that they can never be on time, no matter how hard they try. They could get up at four in the morning, drive to the gym next to their office, work out, get out of the gym and into the shower at eight A.M. and feel good about themselves because they didn’t have to be at work until 9. Then the next thing they know, the clock reads 9:10 and they’re scrambling to towel off and run over to the office.
Or how about the person who would literally cry in the shower before work, and would constantly be locking in themselves in a bathroom stall or disappearing from the office so they could have their panic attacks in private. These disappearances didn’t sit well with their employer, of course, which only made the already tense situation worse. They hated their job so much it literally drove them into therapy and began to ruin what was, an otherwise happy, wonderful and fulfilling life.
No job is worth that amount of grief and their therapist literally made them quit. Now, I’m not suggesting you should necessarily quit your job if you’re unhappy, but I did think it was good to give examples of how depression and stress can show up in your lives in ways you might not have thought of.
Your happiness is your responsibility. If you’re depressed and or stressed, fear not! You can beat them both! Help is out there! Good luck.