Common Characteristics of Stress, Anxiety, and Depression

Common Characteristics of Stress, Anxiety, and Depression



  • Stress is defined as an organism’s total response to environmental demands or pressures.
  • The causes of stress can include any event or occurrence that a person considers a threat to his or her coping strategies or resources.
  • Researchers generally agree that a certain degree of stress is to be expected; however, when unchecked, stress can become a serious problem causing major damage to a person’s physical, mental, emotional and spiritual wellbeing. 
  • Medical research estimates as much as 90 percent of illness and disease is stress-related


  • Anxiety is a normal reaction to many different kinds of events and situations in our lives.
  • Anxiety is one of our internal warning systems that alerts us to dangers or threats and prepares our bodies to fight back or get out of a dangerous satiation. (Flight, fight or freeze response)
  • Anxiety sometimes leads to a panic attack, a sudden feeling of acute and disabling anxiety.
  • There is a difference between a panic attack and an anxiety disorder.
  • An anxiety disorder is a mental health issue when it is overwhelming or unmanageable and it comes up unexpectedly. An anxiety disorder is a mental health issue which should be addressed by contacting a physician and a counselor.


  • Depression is a mental state of altered mood characterized by feelings of sadness, despair, and discouragement.
  • Mild, sporadic depression is a relatively common phenomenon experienced by everyone at some time.
  • Symptoms of severe depression include a sense of loss and despair and sometimes require medication and/or hospitalization. 
  • Early signs of depression include pessimistic statements, refusal to eat, diminished concern about personal appearance, and reluctance to make decisions.