Stress, Anxiety and Depression - What is the difference?

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Looking after your feelings and emotions is as important as taking care of your body. Most of us take care of our physical health far better than our feelings.

Stress is a normal reaction to what is happening in your life, and it can be caused by good, as well as bad events. A little bit of stress isn't always a bad thing; but being over-stressed may cause a range of health problems including headaches, upset stomach, high blood pressure - even strokes and heart disease.

The changes that commonly follow a traumatic event can affect your emotional wellbeing and your ability to cope. If stress is disrupting your life in a bad way, it may be time to learn new coping skills or to get extra help.

Anxiety is a normal feeling that everyone experiences in day-to-day life. I can develop more strongly when faced with something uncertain, difficult, embarrassing or stressful. Anxiety feelings can range from being mild or moderate to severe, and can bring on extreme physical symptoms.

If your feelings of anxiety are causing disruption in your daily life, you may have a more severe form of anxiety called an anxiety disorder. If this is the case, you need to seek professional help.

Depression is a common illness like diabetes or arthritis. Many people suffer from depression at some stage of their life and it can occur at any age.

A lot of people use the word ‘depression’ to describe feelings of sadness and loss. These feelings often pass within a few hours or a few days. During this time, people are able to carry on much as usual. However, if you feel sad much more intensely and for longer and your feelings start to interfere with your work, social life and family life, you may need to seek professional advice.

There are a number of symptoms of depression and it’s very rare for all symptoms to occur in one person all at once. You might feel it come on slowly, from sometimes feeling blue to deeper feelings more often. It is hard to accept that symptoms like sleeping badly or feeling worthless are depression. After all, don’t we all feel that way sometimes? That’s the key – sometimes. It’s not normal to feel that way for a long time.

There are a variety of treatments for stress, anxiety and depression available to assist you in getting through the physical and emotional issues.

To live your life as you want, and be able to give to your family, friends and work – it’s important to look after yourself. Don’t be frightened to ask for help if you need it. We all need someone to talk to at some stage of our life.

Anne Wolski has worked within the health and welfare industry for more than 30 years. Go to to see many wonderful health articles, many of them written by doctors and others who have been involved in the health industry for many years.

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