top of page

Emotions vs. Mental Health Symptoms: Understanding the Differences to Improve Your Well-being

Healing is a lifelong journey, and understanding the differences between emotions and mental health symptoms can be an important step towards achieving it. Emotions are brief and fleeting, while mental health symptoms are persistent and interfere with daily life (Rottenberg, Gross, & Gotlib, 2014). As I reflect on my own experiences with depression and anxiety, I recognize that these conditions are not simply passing moods, but rather complex mental health disorders that require attention and care.

Depression is a mood disorder characterized by persistent feelings of sadness, hopelessness, and worthlessness (American Psychiatric Association, 2013). It can be difficult to differentiate between temporary feelings of sadness and clinical depression, but the duration and intensity of symptoms are key factors to consider. As I struggled with depression, I found that my low mood and negative thoughts were ever-present and began to impact my ability to function in everyday life.

Similarly, anxiety is a mental health disorder characterized by excessive worry, fear, and nervousness, which can lead to physical symptoms such as sweating and rapid heart rate (National Institute of Mental Health, 2021). While it's normal to experience occasional feelings of anxiety, chronic anxiety can be debilitating and make it difficult to carry out daily tasks. As someone who has dealt with anxiety, I know how overwhelming and disruptive it can be to constantly feel on edge.

It's important to note that emotions can be adaptive and serve as a coping mechanism, while mental health symptoms can indicate the presence of an underlying mental health disorder (Kring & Sloan, 2010). Understanding the distinction between these two concepts can help us identify when we might need additional support. Seeking professional help, such as therapy or medication, can be instrumental in managing mental health symptoms (National Institute of Mental Health, 2021).

In my own journey towards healing, I've learned that taking care of my mental health is an ongoing process. By recognizing the differences between emotions and mental health symptoms, I've been able to better understand when I might need additional support and take action to prioritize my mental health. I hope that by sharing my experiences and insights, I can encourage others to do the same.


  • American Psychiatric Association. (2013). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders (5th ed.).

  • Gross, J. J. (2015). Emotion regulation: Current status and future prospects. Psychological Inquiry, 26(1), 1-26. doi: 10.1080/1047840X.2014.940781

  • Kashdan, T. B., & Rottenberg, J. (2010). Psychological flexibility as a fundamental aspect of health. Clinical Psychology Review, 30(7), 865-878. doi: 10.1016/j.cpr.2010.03.001

  • Segal, Z. V., Williams, J. M. G., & Teasdale, J. D. (2002). Mindfulness-based cognitive therapy for depression: A new approach to preventing relapse. New York, NY: The Guilford Press.

10 views0 comments


bottom of page