Depression vs. Stress


one caucasian young teenager silhouette boy or girl studying with computer computing laptop tired sad despair in studio cut out isolated on white background

Camille Shiu

Almost 20% of adolescents will experience depression before reaching adulthood. Often times, it can be difficult to deal with depression while also having to do schoolwork. I sat down and talked with someone, whose anonymity will be preserved for personal reasons, to find out more about what it’s like to try and be a good student while additionally coping with depression.

“Striving to be ‘good’ is a huge factor for depression. It’s really frustrating because while going through depression, you will feel horrible no matter how well you do. I can work as hard as I can, and there is always something I could have done better,” she said.

A student survey at MVHS showed that many students believe depression is different from being stressed.  In addition to being stressed about all the things you need to do, you would also be doubting yourself and always feeling the need to do more.

I was curious to see how depression and stress relate to each other, so I did some research. Chronic depression induces stress and anxiety. This makes a student even more depressed if they can’t cope with this stress, which increases the stress level, and so on. When a student is stressed, it makes it harder for them to learn, because the chemicals in the brain that would normally be used for deep thinking and understanding aren’t there.

Depression also inhibits one’s memory storage, so if a stressed student is trying to study for a test, they would not be able to remember the facts that they needed to pass the exam. These effects on the brain are particularly bad for adolescents, as the brain is still in the developing stages and is not yet ready to receive such abuse.

Depression makes the situation even worse because you are stressed but also have to cope with thinking you will never be good enough (even if you’ve already done their best). 

“[Depression]’s really frustrating because while going through depression, you will always feel horrible no matter how well you do. It’s especially irritating when people tell you to be better, because I get the fact that I’m not good and it makes me feel like I’m bad at everything in life,” my interviewee said.

Even when people compliment those who are depressed, they may still feel as if they are unworthy of even living. They won’t believe it, because they think you’re just trying to make them feel better. This only makes them feel worse. (WebMD)

Depression can be viewed as a perpetual cycle of hopelessness for many, although there are many different types of depression which may have different effects and symptoms. It can take so much effort out of a person to be able to overcome depression of any sort, and adding the pressure of being a good student on top of that can make it even harder. One who is depressed should go see a doctor, therapist, or the school psychologist. The issue is that some people are just too insecure to talk about their depression or stress, especially if they’re talking to someone they are not familiar with. Often times, someone who is depressed is more likely to want to confide in their closest friends.  So, if you have a friend who is depressed it would be a good idea to reach out and talk to them. Don’t be too direct, but be gentle and open, and make sure they know that you’ll always be there for them. Sometimes to overcome adversity all you need is a little push from the love and support you receive.

“Depression is like a never ending dark tunnel, no matter how far you walk, you can never see the light. Once you are good, you will finally see the light. One going through depression has a hard time believing that their depression would ever end, and are almost convinced they will never see true happiness again,” she said. “I can work as hard as I can, and there is always something I could have done better. Trying to be ‘good’ or ‘perfect’ is practically asking for failure, leading to a broken heart at the end,” she said.

To reiterate, depression is largely different from stress.  Being stressed is when one has a lot of pressure put on themselves. Going through depression, however, is when one would have extreme stressing and that feeling you will never be good enough.