Frustration and Depression (The difference)

In this writing, the relation between Frustration and Depression are discussed, signs and symptoms of depression, the purpose of frustration, causes of frustration, reaction to frustration, frustration and some other correlates 


The word Frustration derived from a Latin Word “ Frusta” meaning “ Obstruction”.

Frustration is an emotion resultant of a situation where a person or an event blocks or set as a barrier in reaching the desired goal. There is a feeling of satisfaction and elation when our goals are accomplished however there is frustration and irritation when we are blocked or prevented from reaching our desired goal

Frustration is directly correlated with the value placed on the goal thus, more important the goal is, there will be more frustration and anger if it is not reached or fulfilled. 


It is a mood disorder that is often called Unipolar Depression or Major Depressive Disorder. It is one of the most common and prevalent mental disorders.

According to the American Psychiatric Association (2013), the two key symptoms of Depression are Depressed mood and the loss of pleasure and interest, Anhedonia during the same 2-week period. Apart from these two symptoms, Depressive patients also undergo other symptoms such as insomnia and hypersomnia, psychomotor agitation, loss of energy, worthlessness, diminished ability to think and concentrate, and recurrent thoughts of death, suicidal ideation.

Sign and symptoms of Depression

Some of the sign and symptoms associated with Depression are:

  • Depressed and Low mood
  • Anhedonia
  • Feeling of hopelessness
  • Worthlessness and Helplessness
  • Lack of concentration
  • Thoughts on ending life
  • Difficulty in sleep
  • Irritability and Agitation
  • Fluctuation in appetite
  • Difficulty in decision making.

Purpose of Frustration

Frustration serves various purposes for an individual. Some of them are:

  • To make sure that our current ineffective actions are modified.
  • To allow us to seek for alternative action in reaching the goals.
  • Gives us time to step back and think over our actions. 

What causes Frustration?

There are two main causes of Frustration which are Internal and External causes.

The Internal causes of Frustration

Internal causes of Frustration are the Perceived Deficiencies or Real Deficiencies in an individual that t set as a barrier in accomplishing or reaching their goal. These can be our fear, anxiety or low self-esteem.

Another Internal cause of Frustration is an Internal clash in the goal. When there is a clash in the priorities of the goal, one gets frustrated since they can’t choose among the options.

External cause of Frustration

These are conditions or external influences that stop us from reaching our goals such as incidents in life that distance us from our goal. Other external cause includes social factor, environmental factor etc.

These are unavoidable as well as not in our control because of it we can’t take in charge of it.

Lack of progress and insecurity

When there are progress and achievement, we tend to feel contended and accomplished whereas when the progress is stagnant and there is high insecurity, we get frustrated and agitated for the failure. 

Limited Resources:

When our resource to accomplish goals and reach toward it are minimal or low, we tend to get agitated and helpless. 

Reaction to Frustration

Our reaction to frustration is sometimes called Defence Mechanism since it defends or protects us from the anxiety or irritation we undergo when our path to goal accomplishment is blacked or stopped.

And since such feelings take a toll on one’s mental as well as psychological health, we respond to it differently and it differs from one individual to other. 

Some of the reaction to frustrations are:


when we faced barriers or blockage in reaching to goal, we drop the goal or decide not to pursue it further.


the frustration of failing to fulfil our goal result in threatening behaviour. Individual adopt violent as well as impulsive behaviour as a mean to vent out their frustration. 


At times the frustration of not being able to reach towards a goal is exhibited through childish or immature behaviour. 

Physical Disorders:

Frustration often results in physical or physiological symptoms like irritable bowel, hot flush, fever, etc.

Loss of Confidence 

When one failed to accomplish their goal and feel giving up, the side effect associated with it is Loss of Confidence. Loss of Confidence and Low Self-Esteem hampers or influence next trial since the initial attempt has been failure and individual tend to negatively evaluate themselves.

Giving Up:

Sometimes people give up their goal when they feel like it is out of their reach or it can also be due 


It is the state of emotional, mental and physical exhaustion resulted by excessive and prolonged stress because of the overwhelming feeling, emotional drain out and the failure to meet demands. The negative effect associated with burnout is the effect on every aspect of life; work, social life and home. 

Burnout is the direct result of frustration.

Other Unhealthy Reaction:

People also divert to unhealthy behaviour when they are frustrated such as abuse of the drug, drinking alcohol, self-destruction and harming and binge-eating. These are some of the unhealthy coping mechanism people adopt when frustrated.

These are the reactions people of people when frustrated, out of which some are a healthy way of venting out their anger or vexation while others can be harmful although relieving for the short term.

Frustration and Depression.

Despite Frustration/ Anger being a normal or accepted reaction, long-term or prolonged anger can dysfunctional and a symptom of Depression.

Researches have also found a relation between frustration and Depression. Frustration especially in a depressive patient is caused by the narcissistic vulnerability and sensitivity to rejection. 

The vicious cycle begins with the intrapsychic conflict caused by anger reaction resulting in a feeling of guilt and remorse that result in low self-esteem and extreme sadness and self-loathing. 

It found that depressive patient has experienced episodes of anger.

Some of the symptoms of Frustration and Depression are:

  • Rapid and pacing heartbeat
  • Increased in Blood Pressure
  • Rage
  • Aggressive and Impulsive Behavior.
  • Loos of energy
  • The constant thought of harm and death

Frustration and Helplessness

Both of these are different emotions where frustration is the initial or onset of helplessness.when the person feels there is no way out. And when a person feels like they fail to accomplish what they are supposed to meet and nothing could be done, there is a sense of helpless. 

Frustration and Flexibility

Being flexible means believing that there is a way out or alternatives in doing a thing. If an individual is flexible enough, they experience less frustration. If they are not flexible enough, they tend to get frustrated easily and stuck. 

Creative people are more flexible and are less vulnerable to frustration and anger since they can find out another way in dealing with a problem rather than giving up.

Dealing with Frustration

There are different ways through which we can deal with Frustration and Anger. Some of them are:

  • Reaching out to someone with whom you can share or talk to
  • Physical Exercise and Workout 
  • Getting a good amount of sleep
  • Doing things that you enjoy or find pleasurable
  • Relaxation and Meditation
  • Individual as well as Group Therapy for Anger Management 
  • Figuring out the source/ antecedent of the frustration
  • Reminding oneself that it will pass
  • Distracting or Working on something else.
  • Resilience and effective coping mechanism
  • Looking for proper channel to dispel the frustration
  • Changing one’s perception and view

These are the ways through which one can deal with frustration.

FAQs: Frustration and Depression

What is the difference between Frustration and Depression?

The difference between Frustration and Depression is that Frustration is an emotion an individual experience when they fail to reach their goal.
While Depression is a Mood Disorder where a person experiences prolonged sadness, anhedonia and loss interest in pleasurable activities.
Excessive frustration results in Depression.
Unlike Frustration, Depression is a mental disorder. 
Frustrated individuals display emotions like disappointment, arrogant, irritation and hostility while Depressive people experience helplessness, worthlessness, tired and extreme sadness.

What are the effects of frustration?

Effects of frustration are:

Loss of confidence 
Giving up
Alcohol and Drug Abuse
Loss of Self-Esteem 
Quitting or Dropping the goal.

What are signs of Frustration?

The sign of Frustrations that need to take care of are:

Vulnerability to anger
Emotional Stress
Bad mood 
Feeling of Dejection

What other factors can contribute to Frustration?

 Other than the internal and external causes of frustration, some other determinants of frustration are:

Health state including physical as well as psychological 
Financial Situation
Emotional Difficulties and traumatic life events
Stagnation at work and job loss

Mentioned are other minor factors that contribute to our frustration level and affect us.

Do you frustrated at certain times?

Yes, there is a certain pattern during which we are frustrated and time when we don’t. Thus, those events or goals that are more significant and have higher personal values are likely to result in higher frustration level than trivial issues that aren’t significant to one’s life.

What is the main cause of Depression?

Depression is caused by a wide range of factors such as:

Death of someone close
Conflict or troubling relation
Major life events
Serious Illness or terminal illness
Personal problem 
Genetic Inheritance
Substance Abuse
Financial Problem

How can I stop being Frustrated?

Overcoming frustration is a challenging task yet there are different ways through which one can overcome such symptoms as well as reaction.
Some of them are:

Talking with someone or seeking support
Spending time with oneself and figuring out the problem
Jotting down the feelings or journaling
Recognizing things that are not in one’s control
Changes and Modification to reduce the anger

Is it normal to be frustrated?

Yes, Frustration is a normal emotional reaction since there are times even if we try our best, we fail to reach up to the expectation. It is the terminal point of our ability to remain patient and thus, it is often accompanied by feeling annoyance. 

What is the root cause of frustration?

Frustration is primarily caused by uncertainty and feeling of insecurity especially when we fail to fulfil or satisfy our needs. The uneasiness and annoyance results when our need or path to reach our goal is blocked or disrupted. 

Is frustration stress?

No, it is not rather it is our stress reaction. When we fail to cope up with the stress, we tend to get frustrated. 

Stress is something that happens to us when there is imbalance or discrepancy between the demand of the situation and our resources while Frustration occurs when we fail to reach to our set goal or when our attempt to accomplish the goal goes in vain.


In this article, the topic, “ Frustration and Depression” was addressed, symptoms of Depression and Frustration are discussed, coping skills of frustration, frustration and some other correlated and finally concluded with few FAQs about this concerned subject.

Some important sites for further information and details:


Akrani, G. (2011, 27 3). Frustration: Types of Reaction and Causes of Frustration. Kalyan City Life.

Berger, V. (2005). Psychologist: Anywhere and Anytime. Frustration.

Bhandari, S. (2019, 03 18). Causes of Depression. WebMD.

Busch, F. N. (2009, 07). Anger and Depression. Advances in Psychiatric Treatment, 15(4), 271-278.

Parvez, H. (2014, 09 19). Causes of frustration and how to deal with it. PsychMechanics.

Rosenbaum, J. F., & Fava, M. (1998). Anger attacks in Depression., 8, 59-63.