Stress vs Anxiety vs Depression – 20 Differences

By: Sarah Grace

In this materialistic world, we face ups and downs, we face obstacles and difficulties due to which we all suffer from mental complications such as Stress, anxiety, and depression. These problems radically change our way of thinking.

Let us have a brief insight on stress vs anxiety vs depression and the conditions caused by lively headaches.

We all experience different difficulties and try to hide our feelings by putting on a fake smile on our faces. All such panic cases have resulted in hundreds of injuries which can become even more dangerous than HIV/AIDS, cancer, etc.

Among such psychosis: depression, anxiety, and stress lead the list. This madness hurts a person mainly emotionally. It is later characterized by important clinical features such as individualized thinking and behavior.

In this article Let’s explore the meaning, differences, similarities, causes and effects of Stress vs anxiety vs depression:


What is stress?

Definition of stress: Stress is a feeling or state of panic that occurs when an event is perceived as important to the individual and well-being, has the potential to cause harm or loss, and requires psychological, physiological, and/or behavioral efforts to manage the event. 

It is caused by worry and mental tension. It’s basically a natural and prompt response towards anxiolytic conditions that helps us to address the upcoming challenges.

What is anxiety?

Definition: Anxiety is a dreadful feeling of uneasiness and fear. It might cause sweat, restlessness, increased heartbeat with hypertension. 

Simply in other words, Anxiety is an emotion of worried thought, panic feelings that leads to physical and psychological changes. 

What is depression? 

Depression meaning and definition: It’s a continuous feeling of sadness, sorrow, tense etc. Sometimes it serves as a normal nervous system response but most of the times it converts into a severe disorder. You might feel anxious while facing a problem.

Depression is all the way a serious mood complication, sufferers might face persistent saddened feeling, with hopelessness and partial or complete loss of interest in activities. 

How does depression affect you?

Depression as a disorder remains an important focus of clinical and psychological researchers worldwide. In its generality, it was a burden for every kingdom around the world.

Several studies have been published to address this important issue, but the statistics remain unchanged.[i] 

It affects our lives in a very different manner, causing weight loss, insomnia, hypersomnia, and memory loss at severe extinction, etc.

Related: 30 Most Powerful Anxiety and depression quotes

How does anxiety affect you?

Anxiety also goes hand in hand with depression and is a constant feeling of regular activity. If we leave it without treatment, it can become a lifelong stigma. Some factors trigger anxiety to an even more extreme level.

Severe anxiety can also manifest as different phobias or even constant panic attacks. In addition to these two main substances, we also suffer from stress.

How does stress affect you?

Stress is a state of anxiety or tension associated with certain situations. It is a natural human response to unexpected threats, difficult scenarios, or difficult issues. This is due to some unexpected events.

Each of us experiences stress differently and we also have different tendencies to cope with stress.[ii] 

People Also read: Is Depression and Anxiety the same thing: Meaning, differences, symptoms, causes, medications, treatment

Difference between stress anxiety and depression:

All of us thinks that anxiety, stress, and depression are same but in this writing we’ll discuss how these three diseases are different from each other:

Following are the 20 differences between stress anxiety and depression

Stress vs Anxiety vs Depression

Stress is tension that occurs as a refractory response to any bad environment.  Anxiety is just a sudden feeling of fear or panic due to any horrible situation but if it continues it might convert into disease.Depression refers to a feeling where we feel down almost every time, it’s actually a persistent sadness. 
The nature of emotion may differ in stress as it exerts external pressures. It can be both positive and negative It involves feelings of fear, worry about upcoming events. It’s a long term feeling of sadness, and exerts no external pressure.
It may vanish after the situation is overed.It may finish but as long term it stays for longer duration sometimes permanently. As we know it’s already a long term disease that does not develop in one or two days. 
Originally, it is tied up to present affairs Anxiety, a feeling that happens due to future threats.Depression occurs by the circumstances faced in the past. 
Physiologic symptoms for stress are tension, or a fight or flight response.Increased heartbeat, cold sweating, trembling might occur.Fatigue, weight loss, disturbed sleep pattern, agitation might occur
Cognitive patterns are disturbed mainly in stress.Anxiety involves rumination, extraordinary worryful thoughts about the future.It involves self-criticism, worthless thinking about the past. 
The effect on regular activities is permanent.It interferes in day to day situations, on regular bases. People fail to engage and co-ordinate properly.The effect on daily bases work is permanent an negative 
It is triggered by an uncertain or dangerous locality.It gets triggered routinely, when we get into an anxiolytic position.It is triggered when we memorize life events, loss of someone etc.
Stress most of the time is self resolving as the environment gets back to normal. Anxiety is restored by motivation, or by relaxation.It needs proper therapy sessions or anti-depressants.
It hardly disturbs sleep pattern It does disturb sleep patterns a little much.Sleep pattern is completely destroyed.
Stress hardly affect social gathering. Social interactions are affected to some degree, but not completely.In depression we almost boycott our social lifes.
Stress temporarily affects our self-esteem.Anxiety may impact a person’s self-esteem about false beliefs.  People with depression lose control over their feelings. The negative thoughts are totally out of their course.
Appetite is greatly changed in stress. Overeating is noticed in stress.Anxiety does affect appetite, people don’t eat or drink until they get free.People with depression hardly eat.
Stress may manifest to physical damage either temporary or permanent.Anxiety causes fever, headaches, stomachs for short duration.Depression leads to chronic health issues.
It has a sudden and immediate onset It takes time to become persistent.It requires years to be  developed and polished.
Suicidal thoughts are not associated with stress People with anxiety rarely suicide Depression is greatly linked with suicides and it’s thoughts.
Positive events are not stimulus for the one having stress Positive events of life sometimes lowers anxiety levels.People suffering from depression require positive social skills and are influenced by it. 
Stressors have complete hope for their hope. They are also hopeful about their future worries.They have almost lost hope for the future. They just live without any reason 
Stressors have the ability to make the right decisions at the right time.It creates problems when making decisions and sometimes fails in doing so.They have no ability to make correct decisions for others or even for themselves.


Anxiety, stress and depression can be a lethal disease if initiatives are not timely taken. They are interlinked yet different mental statuses, characterized by different symptoms, causes, onset etc.

Recognizing a permanent solution or treatment is really necessary and a crucial step for physical, psychological and emotional well-being. Seek professional and psychotherapists help where needed and target the actual causes. 

Differentiation between anxiety, stress and depression is the prime goal as to intervene the real diagnosis as well as initiate actual therapy.

People Also read: How to deal with anxiety and depression without medication: 10 Natural Remedies


Photo of author
I'm a researcher with a deep passion for understanding the complexities of the mind. My background in psychology and years spent analyzing research have equipped me with the knowledge to translate complex concepts into practical tools for self-help and mental well-being. I'm driven by a desire to empower individuals to navigate life's challenges and cultivate emotional health.

Leave a Comment