Oftentimes I feel the terms ‘depression’ and ‘anxiety’ are extremely overused by people in everyday life, meaning that when people are actually ill due to depression and suffer with anxiety they are not taken seriously. Well, this is just one of the many reasons anyway.
Yesterday I was asked ‘how do I know whether I am depressed or whether I am just sad?’ my answer to which was depression doesn’t go away, it is not just sadness. Depression is a numbness to life as you know it. Not laziness, but no motivation at all. Not tired, but chronically fatigued. Not sad, just empty. An ongoing pit of numbness and emptiness. No sense of purpose; to get out of bed, open the curtains or even shower. I once remember trying to pluck up the courage to leave the house, and walking straight back into bed after going outside.
Depression causes a loss of interest in yourself and the world; it causes a critical nature towards yourself and negative perceptions of the world around you.
It is a constant ache in your mind and body and is very intolerable. Sometimes when depression is extreme it can become so intolerable that the person suffering will have thoughts of hurting themselves or ending their lives. These suicidal thoughts are extremely powerful symptoms of a very serious illness and ones that sometimes people do not truly take seriously for exactly what they are – symptoms of an illness.
There is a fine line between unhappiness and depression. If you often find yourself complaining about the same thing in your life, over and over – you’re unhappy. This is not depression. Sadness is an appropriate response to something challenging in your life, depression is not.
The same applies to stress being confused for anxiety. Do not confuse the two; they both have very different natures.
Stress is caused by a current ongoing factor in that person’s life; IE high pressure currently at work in a busy working period.
Stress is the way our minds and bodies react the something which is currently upsetting our balance in life. Such events it releases our adrenal glands meaning we release adrenaline which activates our bodies defence mechanisms causing our hearts to pound, blood to rise, the muscles to become tenser and pupils to dilate.
Stress is a bodily response to a current and external trigger.
Anxiety is a feeling of apprehension accommodated with a feeling of doom; the trigger has been and gone and it prolongs itself in the absence of a stressful event. It interferes greatly with normal everyday life.
Anxiety is an ongoing stress after the trigger has been and gone; it is often referred to by the person suffering as an ‘impending feeling of doom’ Anxiety has incredibly powerful physical effects on the body; it can make people very sick by causing upset tummy, dry mouth, rapid heartbeat, palpitations, insomnia, irritability and anger and paranoia about the world and the people around them.
The minds of the people with anxiety will constantly occupy itself with obsessive worry about everything that is important to them.
I often found that when I was in the peak of battling my depression and anxiety, they would feed one another. When I started to feel happier, my anxiety would kick up a notch because being happy meant I had something to lose, so my anxiety would increase due to this.
Sadness and stress are not the same as depression and anxiety. Depression and anxiety are prolonging illnesses; sadness and stress are just two emotional responses.