Anxiety, stress, depression … what are the differences?

A lump in the stomach, a feeling of permanent tiredness, a sudden panic attack, motivation that plunges, dark thoughts … These sensations are sometimes so present that they disrupt daily life. Understanding the particularities of anxiety, stress and depression is important in the follow-up and differentiated treatment that these mental disorders require. So how do we know? Description of three pathologies that are similar, and yet.

Anxiety, permanent anticipation of difficulties
First of all, it should be noted that anxiety is a rather normal, even useful, sensation when it is well dosed. Anxiety brings us caution and attention in the face of (real) dangers or (risky) situations: it is when it becomes excessive that it becomes a source of inhibition and exhaustion. These are called anxiety disorders: these disorders affect about one person in four over the course of a lifetime! For most individuals, anxiety is different from stress and depression in its relationship to time: it is the projection of an event or difficulty and its uncontrollable and unpredictable nature that triggers this anxious feeling. The feeling of fear and danger is often constant. This constant anticipation then regularly causes tension in the individual, who quickly sees his daily life deteriorate: the future, health, transport delays, school results … everything is a cause for concern!

Chronic stress, a constant tension that lasts, that lasts…
Defined as the evil of the century in our societies with overloaded schedules, stress, like anxiety, is above all a natural phenomenon that allows us to adapt to the threats and constraints of the environment. It’s when it becomes chronic that there’s a problem! In normal situations, “good” stress allows the secretion of hormones that help us to manage so-called “stressful” situations (avoiding a road accident, for example). Once the event is over, the body rests and everything is back to normal. Bad stress or chronic stress occurs when the stress reaction is repeated without any possibility for the body to recover: the body then enters into resistance. Over time, stress therefore alters our ability to react, exhausts the body, and has a lasting impact on our mental and physical health.

Approximately 9 out of 10 French people say they feel stress. The causes? Work for the majority (38%), financial problems (35%), and finally personal life (33%).

In most people, the symptoms of stress are both physical (backache, headache, sleep and appetite disorders …), emotional (temper tantrum, strong aggression, feelings of sadness, discomfort …) or intellectual (difficulty concentrating, forgetfulness and errors, especially at work …). It should be noted that the major consequences for the respondents are sleep problems for 54% of them!

In general, stress disappears when we move away from the source of stress (on vacation for example), which is not the case with anxiety.

Depression, a mental disorder requiring urgent diagnosis
Unlike stress and anxiety, which are survival mechanisms present by nature in the body, depression is an illness, a mental disorder that affects one in five people, mostly those aged 15-44.
Depression leads to a slowdown in all areas of daily life: intellectual functioning, physical fitness, emotional life. Depressive disorder is a long-lasting phenomenon: it is called depression when the slowdown lasts more than 2 weeks.
In most individuals, it is expressed by a feeling of great sadness, deep boredom, monotony, lack of desire, including for activities that are usually a source of pleasure. Thoughts turn to slow motion, become black, even suicidal: the risk of suicide is multiplied by 30 during the depressive episode. Unsupported, Depression is often accompanied by anxiety disorders and severe paralyzing fatigue.

Recognizing mental disorders such as anxiety, stress, or depression is important to better treat them. Many solutions exist to relieve these everyday disorders, which can affect everyone over the course of a lifetime. Taking a moment for oneself, of consciousness, in order to bring these states to light is already an excellent first step!