Depression Prevention: Does Stress Leads to Depression?

Stress has become an inevitable part of our lives today, and needs timely addressal. Modern-day culture that demands a fast life, unhealthy eating practices, increased workload, and emotional distresses may all contribute to pounding stress.

However, overload of stress, especially on susceptible people may result in depression, when the mind finds it too overwhelming to deal with it. The truth is, stress leads to depression, if kept unchecked for a longer duration.

There are a lot of possible reasons for depression including stress, genetics, significant life situations, etc.

One of the most common causes of depression is stress.

Continuous stressful life events may increase the chance of getting depression if you are not good at coping with stress.

There is also growing evidence that associates poor coping mechanisms, physical illness, and stress with depression.

Stress is a natural physical and psychological response to any good or bad life situation, like getting a new job or death of a significant other.

Stress isn’t something unusual or bad. What’s essential is the way you deal with stress.

Stress can be good for you. It helps you be alert, inspired and always ready for danger.

For someone who has met a work deadline or participated in sports know that stress activates the body to react, which improves* performance.

However, chronic or too much stress may cause major depression in vulnerable individuals.

According the Esther Sternberg, MD, a leading stress researcher and the head of Neuroendocrine Immunology and Behaviour at the National Institute of Mental Health, just like emails and spam emails, minor stress is good but having too much stress isn’t good that you will have to shut down and restart.

Even positive life situations, like having a new job or getting engaged, can be stressful and may result in major depression.

However, about 10% of individuals experience depression even without the initiation of stressful situations.

Knowing the psychological mechanisms on how stress leads to depression can aid you in preventing it.

This is particularly essential for individuals who had experienced depression and didn’t want to undergo depression again.

experienced-depression

Stress-Depression Connection

Stress – may it be chronic stress, like caring for an Alzheimer’s patient, or acute stress like the death of someone you love or getting fired from a job – can result in major depression among vulnerable individuals.

Both chronic and acute stress can result in overworking the body’s stress-response mechanism.

Chronic stress most particularly can result in raised hormone levels like cortisol or also known as the “stress hormone”, and lowered serotonin levels and other neurotransmitters present in the brain, which includes dopamine, which is associated with depression.

When these chemicals are normally working, they help control biological processes such as appetite, energy, sex drive and sleep and allow the expression of normal emotions and moods.

If the stress response doesn’t properly shut down and restart after a tough situation has passed, it may result in depression among individuals who are susceptible.

Nobody in life can evade stress-related life situations like divorce, death of a loved one, natural disasters, loss of a job and even an eventful dip in your 401.

A loss of a job – which can be considered as a minor stressor – can result in chronic stress if job hunting is extended.

Any loss is considered as a major risk factor for developing depression. Grieving is a healthy and natural reaction to loss, however, if it is experienced for longer periods then it may trigger depression. Any severe illness, which includes depression, is already considered as a chronic stressor.

When stress starts affecting your daily activities of life, such as performing your job, or frequent attacks on your loved ones, insomnia, or lack of interest in everything thereof.

Can Stress Cause Depression?

Several studies have concluded that yes, stress does contribute to depression significantly. One study indicated that stress can cause brain disturbances, which may result in depressive syndrome. In some instances, if the person is already depressed; more stress may aggravate the symptoms.

How does stress lead to depression? Chronic stress may result in elevated hormone levels of cortisol, reducing levels of serotonin; which contributes to depression.
If the stress response does not fade away, it may affect sleep, daily activities, sex drive, normal behavior, and regular appettite. In fact, stress may drive you to unhealthy practices such as smoking, drinking, eating unhealthy foods, etc.

However, here’s the good news: lifestyle changes can help reduce stress levels and boost your resilience towards stress. Check out the following tips to understand how you can cope with depression.

Stress Cause Depression

Practical Tips for Depression Prevention

  • Identify the healthy coping mechanisms that are vital for keeping your mood in check but you may go out of the way if stress is a bit too much.
  • Determine early warning signs that may give an indication that you have to make some changes like detecting that you are getting easily irritable during work or creating recurrent mistakes because of inattentiveness.
  • Create a list of the things that you can do once you notice some early warning signs of stress such as making scheduled meet-ups with your friends immediately after work.
  • Know the barriers where you can apply your ideas if you are overworked. What can you do to go over those barriers? Example, “If I don’t have the money to go to dinner, I could arrange to meet friends for coffee.”
  • Relationships that you have are vital resources. What actions can you do to prevent damaging your relationships if you are stressed? Simple measures that can aid, for example, ensuring that you say positive things before you say anything negative if you see your significant other or flatmates at the end of the day.
  • Avoid spending too much time on your smartphone at night time as it may make it difficult to fall asleep, which causes your brain to feel overtired. Lack of adequate sleep can be a major contributor to stress.
  • Talking to a therapist when your mood goes down can be of great help when your partner at times feels that they are the only one helping you. When you have a booster session with your therapist, try considering your partner to go with you during the session so that your therapist will know the perspective of your partner.

Things to Remember

  • Stress is something that you feel pressure at doing, something that you think you might fail.
  • Having a balanced lifestyle and coping approaches can aid you in managing your stress.
  • Problems that cause stress can’t always be resolved; however, changing your outlook on a certain problem might help.
  • Stress, if left untreated, may result in severe illness.
  • It is vital to get help once you feel that you can’t manage.

Depression may have long-term effects, often resulting in suicidal thoughts. Timely addressal and changes in your lifestyle can certainly bring some difference.

Remember that it is all right to seek help. Surround yourself with your loved ones who can tell you positive things about yourself. Seeking professional help is recommended in case you’re finding it difficult to deal with stress even after following the above tips.

Reference:
1] https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/16166019/