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We all experience stress in some form or another. However, sometimes it can be hard to explain exactly what we mean when we say, “this is stressful.” Especially as we all can react differently to stress.

Stress is our response to pressure. It’s how we react to situations we find difficult to cope with, or times where we feel like we don’t have much control. Stress can occur in lots of different parts of life. From deadlines at work, to our personal lives at home.

Sometimes stress can feel overwhelming. If significant stress levels go untreated, for a long period of time, it can become a kind of depression. However, stress and depression are two different things.

At MoreLife, we understand that our mental health is just as important as our physical health. We wanted to take the time to explain the difference between stress and depression. You’ll also find information about getting help if you’re concerned about your stress levels.

Healthy Stress 

Did you know that not all stress is bad? When we think of stress, our minds tend to think of it as negative and something to avoid. It’s important to remember that stress is not the enemy.  In fact, it can be useful and help push us to get things done.

Stress can make us work harder, push through our fears and help us get results. However, while these short bursts of stress can be helpful, long-term stress can become problematic for our physical and mental health.

Signs of Stress

There are physical and mental symptoms of stress. These include:

– Headaches or dizziness

– Muscle tension or pain

– Chest pain or a faster heartbeat

– Struggling to make decisions

– Constantly worrying

– Being forgetful

Remember in the short-term, these symptoms aren’t harmful. However, when you experience stress for an extended period – without relief – it can lead to more serious health issues. If you’re concerned about your mental health or levels of stress, please contact your GP.

Difference Between Depression and Stress

What about if you’ve already been feeling stressed for a long time? You may be concerned it’s a more serious health issue, especially as some of the symptoms of stress can also be applied to depression. However, it’s important to recognise the two are very different things. There are three major factors that can help you recognise the difference.

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Intensity 

Depression is a mental health condition that can make everyday activities a struggle. It’s much more intense than feeling stressed. People who experience depression often lose interest in activities they used to enjoy.

Lots of people can feel stress or low during difficult times. However, these low moods can improve after a short period of time. Whereas depression can last longer.

Extent

Depression is more than just feeling overwhelmed for a couple of days. It can last weeks, months, or even years, especially if it goes undiagnosed or untreated.

Impact

We’ve explored how stress can impact our lives. However, this impact tends to be in a specific area, such as work. Whereas depression can impact much more areas of life, such as sleeping, eating, feelings and behaviours.

 Taking Action

There are actions you can take to help manage your stress. Have a look at our top tips on reducing your stress.  This includes making a self-care plan and focusing on what you can control.

If you recognise your stress levels increasing, it helps to act sooner rather than later. It’s important to put that time in to look after yourself. You’ll feel the benefits both physically and mentally.

Understanding your mental health and how to look after it in a way that works for you is so important. Our programmes can help you manage stress as part of a healthy lifestyle. Check our services page to see how we can help you.

If you’re concerned about your mental health or levels of stress, please contact your GP.

In an emergency, do not hesitate to call 111 or 999.

For further information and resources, you can refer to Mind or the NHS.

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