Stress is a part of everyday life in our increasingly busy lives. No matter how well-adjusted, healthy, fortunate, or optimistic we are, everyone feels stressed out occasionally. While inevitable, it isn’t always bad. Stress, in manageable doses, can motivate us to push through difficult situations and get things done.
However, prolonged stress can take a toll on our mental and physical health, resulting in conditions from high blood pressure to depression. Chronic stress increases the stress hormone cortisol and reduces serotonin, dopamine, and other neurotransmitters in the brain, and these factors have been linked to depression.
Depression negatively impacts your self-image, daily routines, and relationships. It can even be life-threatening, so you should recognize when your stress has progressed into depression. Here’s how you can tell that you’re more than just stressed out.
- Number 1 – You’ve Withdrawn from Socializing
- Number 2 – You Feel Bad About Yourself Almost All the Time
- Number 3 – You’re Having a Lot of Trouble Remembering Things
- Number 4 – You’ve Been Sleeping Way More or Way Less for Weeks
- Number 5 – You’re Super Indecisive
- Number 6 – You’re Angry a Lot and Not Sure Why
- Number 7 – You Feel Helpless
- Number 8 – Your Eating Habits Are All Messed Up
- Number 9 – You’ve Lost Your Motivation
Number 1 – You’ve Withdrawn from Socializing
Imagine you have plans to meet up with some friends after work, but you’ve had a stressful day. Typically, you’d look forward to getting together for some drinks to decompress and get your mind off things. But now, you would rather cancel your plans so that you can get more work done or go to bed and crawl under the covers.
That’s perfectly normal behavior. Alone time is a great way to de-stress. And if you’re introverted, forcing yourself into social situations might drain you even more. It becomes concerning when you start isolating completely, which can signify that your stress leads to depression.
If you find yourself withdrawing from social situations altogether, especially with friends or family that you usually enjoy being around, you may be dealing with more than just stress.
Number 2 – You Feel Bad About Yourself Almost All the Time
Feeling stressed out doesn’t feel great, especially when procrastination results. You might beat yourself up knowing that you could’ve avoided the situation by planning better. But if you’re working hard to get things done and taking care of yourself at the same time and still feel bad about yourself, it could be more than stress. Don’t ignore feelings of constant self-loathing and guilt, as it’s a likely indication that you’re depressed.
Number 3 – You’re Having a Lot of Trouble Remembering Things
Can’t find your keys? Did you forget your anniversary again? Memory problems are associated with stress and depression, so that alone isn’t necessarily something to worry about. But if you’ve been experiencing trouble remembering things for a while and it’s only getting worse, your stress might be evolving into depression.
Number 4 – You’ve Been Sleeping Way More or Way Less for Weeks
Like with memory, both stress and depression can negatively impact your sleeping patterns. Now, just because you’re having trouble falling asleep or you find yourself waking up several times throughout the night doesn’t necessarily mean you’re depressed.
Most often, stress-related sleep problems are temporary and usually subside when the situation has worked itself out. However, if you find that your sleep disturbances have continued for weeks or more, then you could be dealing with depression rather than just stress.
Number 5 – You’re Super Indecisive
When you go out to eat, there’s always that one person who takes 20 minutes to read the entire menu, then asks the server for their recommendation. Some people are just more indecisive than others. On the other hand, excessive stress makes decision-making more daunting, and when you’re depressed, it becomes even more challenging.
This indecisiveness perpetuates a cycle of increased anxiety and frustration, which then, in turn, leads to more self-loathing. Once you notice that this has started to impact your daily life negatively, you might want to consider that your stress has become something more.
Number 6 – You’re Angry a Lot and Not Sure Why
Stress can make you more irritable than usual, and that irritability can turn into downright anger. That isn’t healthy for your physical or mental well-being or your relationships. However, when it’s just stress, you can typically associate it with a specific trigger. When you’re angry all the time, though, and don’t know why, you may be dealing with depression instead.
Number 7 – You Feel Helpless
Stress can make you feel overwhelmed and even make it difficult to concentrate. The resulting anxiety might feel unbearable. But, when it’s just stress, you’re usually able to pinpoint the source, and once you address that, those emotions tend to resolve themselves. Feelings of complete hopelessness are not typical, which could signify that you’re experiencing depression rather than stress.
Number 8 – Your Eating Habits Are All Messed Up
Are you hungrier than usual? Or perhaps you’ve completely lost your appetite?! It’s difficult to tell whether this results from stress or depression since it can be associated with both. If this change in eating habits persists for a while, it’s essential to take notice, as your body might be trying to tell you that something’s not quite right. If the source of your stress has dissipated, but your appetite is still all over the place, you may be teetering on the edge of depression.
Number 9 – You’ve Lost Your Motivation
Stress typically conjures up images of someone pulling their hair out in frustration, but a little bit of pressure can be a good thing. On the one hand, it can stimulate you to do what needs to be done; but on the other, it can also destroy any motivation you may have.
When that’s the case, and you feel helpless rather than just burnt out, or you’ve lost all passion for doing work you used to love, your stress has probably now escalated to depression. If you’re no longer motivated to work toward your goals, you may start to feel distressed and troubled.
Don’t ignore these feelings. It will only make the depression worse. Depression is becoming increasingly common, perhaps due to increased awareness. It could also be due to our ever more stressful lifestyles. It affects more than 260 million people worldwide, so if your overwhelming stress has progressed into depression, know that you’re not alone, nor are you weak.
Be kind to yourself, practice self-care and mindfulness, surround yourself with people who love you even when you don’t feel like it, and consult with a professional, such as a therapist or psychiatrist. There’s no shame in asking for help. Everyone needs it at some point. Remember that you deserve to live a happy and healthy life.
It’s not always easy to tell if you’re experiencing stress or depression. As a result, many people who are actually suffering from depression don’t realize it. This blog post can help you understand the warning signs of depression so that you can seek help before it’s too late.