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Are you suffering from depression, or is it just stress?

Do you often feel gloomy, sad or worn out at the end of each day? So is it stress or depression that you are suffering from?

I am depressed this statement has almost become a fad in Bollywood. Every other day we have one celebrity or the other talking about their bout of depression. While it takes courage to speak about mental illnesses, it also makes us alert. It forces us to think about the weariness and mood swings that we often experience at the end of the day. Does that make us a victim of depression too?

Decoding stress and depression

The words, stress and depression are often used interchangeably, so defining our state of mind is confusing. What one needs to realise that both these conditions are different and impact one s life and mind in different ways.

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Stress is triggered by an event or a situation, whereas depression is a mental disorder that alters brain function. Depression may also be due to a genetic predisposition. Here are eight modern day signs of depression that you should know about.

More often than not the symptoms of stress and depression overlap, which makes it difficult for one to react and seek the right help. The symptoms of stress can be tackled by changing our lifestyle or by facing them head on, but to tackle depression one would need medical intervention to help regain normalcy. The silver lining is that depression is curable when one reaches out for help in time. Here are eight ways to prevent depression.

Stress is not all bad

Stress might have a detrimental effect on your health if you suffer from the same for too long, but stress can also be good for you. It sometimes pushes you to perform better in life and helps you evolve as a better individual, tapping your deepest potential, explains Syeda Ruksheda, psychologist and family psychiatrist, Mumbai. Here are four ways in which stress is damaging your heart.

Two types of stress

Stress can either be positive or negative. Most people associate unhappiness due failure, break-ups, pressure at office or loss of a job with stress. Remember, even happy moments like a wedding, an examination or a new job can also lead to stress. How we adapt, change and accept the various situations in our life are what help us to deal with the different stressors that we face, says Ruksheda. However, stress could be a trigger for depression. But, that is not to say, everyone who is stressed could become depressed in future. Here are seven signs of depression you shouldn't miss.

Stress vs. depression

The prime difference between stress and depression is that you can bounce back to life if you suffer from stress after the situation passes. But with depression the feeling of doom, helplessness and lack of enthusiasm for life lingers. These do not go away even after engaging in activities that one might have once loved, explains Ruksheda. Here are 10 anti-stress quotes to calm you down.

The psychological and physical changes that take place due to depression are more severe in nature and last longer. Some symptoms of depression include a change in sleep pattern, fatigue, mood swings, feelings of guilt, de-motivation and general withdrawal from life. These symptoms are an outcome of altered chemical changes in the brain, and so it doesn't get restored on its own. Here are five health conditions that could lead to depression too.

What is the difference between the symptoms

Although, the symptoms of depression and stress overlap, there are still some subtle differences that make the two stand apart.

Sleep troubles: With stress it is possible that one might stay wide awake in the night or sleep too much to escape impending issues. But with depression, one s sleep patterns differ so much that it can lead to sleep problems like insomnia or excessive sleep disorder. In fact, even sleeping for long hours will not make one feel energetic or help beat fatigue.

Feeling overwhelmed or hopeless: Stress is overwhelming due to one s inability to cope with a situation or be overworked. While with depression, one may feel sad and hopeless irrespective of the situation and time.

Troubles in performance: Stress can either make one underperform or outperform depending on the way a situation is being tackled. However, with depression a person will tend to face trouble in making decisions, concentrating on work and staying declined in performance despite getting help.

Physical symptoms: Both stress and depression have physical implications. Weight gain, fatigue, fever and tremors could be either due to stress or depression. However, in the case of stress, these symptoms can be controlled once the major issue or the underlying cause is taken care of. During depression, these symptoms only keep escalating making one feel more helpless and gloomy. Here is how stress can come in the way of your weight loss goals.

Suicidal tendencies: No matter how overwhelming a situation is with stress one wouldn't develop suicidal tendencies, which are very common in advanced stages of depression.

Change in moods: It is understandable to be nervous, anxious, irritable or low when stressed. But, when one is depressed, there will be anger and rage within, which stems out of no particular cause. The extreme emotions can make one more guilt-ridden and helpless when he/she is depressed.

What you can do when you experience these symptoms

Do a self-analysis: The first step to self-help is to do a detailed self-analysis. Write a diary about everything that s bothering you. Next, write what you can do to better yourself. Plan accordingly and implement the plan on a daily basis. Keep track of your progress, and try to analyse whether you feel better with these small steps.

Talk to your loved ones: Venting pent up emotions can provide relief. However, at times this can only bring temporary relief. So try to find out ways to empower yourself to deal with your troubles. Most of the times, we succeed in doing so with time, patience and accepting life the way it is.

Get help: At any point in time if the feeling of helplessness, loneliness, anxiety and general withdrawal from life gets to you, don t hesitate to get help. This may save you from the clutches of depression and help you reclaim your life too.

Read this in Hindi.

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