Stress and Depression - Discussion

The link between stress and depression is a strong one.

Depression is a psychological condition and affects the mood and behavior patterns of individuals experiencing it. The thought processes of people suffering from depression tend to become fearful, pessimistic, desolate, and illogical. Therefore, depression affects the mind of an individual, making him or her a rather helpless victim of his or her own thinking.

Depression could be triggered off because of several reasons, but one of the most common, popular, and widely accepted cause of depression is stress.

Link Between Stress and Depression

Stress can be caused due to various circumstances both personal and professional in an individual’s life. While some people have a high threshold for stress, some have a low threshold for it. For example, an emotionally weak person might experience extreme stress and inability to cope with separation and divorce, while an emotionally strong person will be able to overcome a situation like separation or divorce without feeling overly stressed. Of course, experience excessive bouts of stress and depression could well result.

It is extremely difficult to determine what amount of stress each individual can face at any given point in time. Similarly, physiological conditions coupled with emotional problems might become the cause of stress and end up depressing people.

Women who are going through physiological changes in the body during pregnancy or menopause might be more prone to stress as compared to other women. During these phases, if there are additional demands emotionally or physiologically, it could give rise to stress and depression could then result.

Cope Well With Stress and Depression Can Be Kept At Bay

Ultimately, it is the inability of a person to cope with various demanding situations or circumstances in one’s life or the lives of loved ones around them which could lead to depression. Day-to-day physical activities involving traveling long distances, extra hours at work, pressure to meet deadlines, lack of sleep, inability to eat and exercise regularly all contribute to mental and physical fatigue, which then give rise to stress.

Under these circumstances, certain situations act as triggers and make it difficult for people to overcome these challenges, and the proverbial straw will break the camel’s back. Therefore, it is very important to maintain a balance, do things in moderation, not get too carried away in demanding situations and know where to draw the line; this is because every single one of us can endure and tolerate only a certain amount of stress.

If stress becomes too much to handle, there will be emotional and physical breakdown. This emotional and physical breakdown caused due to stress experienced by people on a continual basis then cause depression. In other words, the inability to cope with multiple challenges, demands on time and emotions leads to stress and depression could then be triggered.

Stressful Situations Causing and Triggering Depression

Several conditions linking stress and depression are:

  • Loss of a loved one.

  • Disability or disease condition of oneself or a loved one.

  • Inability to cope with challenges at work.

  • Divorce or separation.

  • Lack of sleep accompanied with smoking and drinking.

  • Poor grades in school and college.

  • Financial problems.

  • Getting laid off from work.

All these problems can create a lot of inner turmoil and stress which drives people into depression, mainly because they are not able to overcome these traumatic events or challenges in a peaceful manner.

Dealing With Stressful Circumstances

The need of the hour in these circumstances is to come to terms with the challenge, make your peace with it, and try to move on in life. Unfortunately, as human beings who are driven by emotions to a large extent, people find it difficult to let go of what has happened and we tend to cling on to these unpleasant experiences.

While it is important to grieve and feel miserable, it is equally important to learn to let go completely. Just like toddlers who are learning to walk, we must realize that every time we fall, we cannot afford to sit and cry and feel the hurt all the time; instead, it is important to get up, dust the dirt off ourselves and continue to learn to walk! Or else, we will drive ourselves to situations of severe stress and depression. The same disturbing thoughts of financial problems, divorce, or physical disabilities will occupy the mind, resulting in loss of sleep, lack of concentration, loss of appetite, irritability, hypersensitivity, etc, which are all symptoms of depression.

Self Help Remedies for Anxiety, Stress and Depression

Unless we decide to draw strength from the fact that life is a cyclical process with highs and lows, learn to be positive and overcome challenges and not get too bogged down by them, the chances of being able to cope with stress are low. Some steps to overcome stress and depression being better kept at bay are:

  • Regular exercise and yoga - A healthy body will certainly help calm the mind and build immunity against various diseases. Meditation on a regular or daily basis, too, is extremely relaxing and develops emotional strength. Joining a dance class or aerobics workout program contribute positively towards coping with stressful situations and unnecessary anxiety. People who are short tempered and get angry quickly will realize that they are more peaceful and do not get agitated as easily after working out on a regular basis.

  • Healthy diet - This is one of the most simple, basic, and easy methods of ensuring a healthy body and a healthy mind. The minute people feel stressed, they reach out for food, but the fact is, the kind of food we end up eating when we are “stressed” could be contributing to various other physiological conditions.

    Foods that are rich in carbohydrates seem to relieve stress, but this is only a temporary fix; in the long run, we are only piling on calories and fats which add to overall weight and cholesterol. Therefore, one should watch what one is eating, especially when one is stressed. It is important to drink plenty of water, fluids, and fresh fruit and vegetable juices instead of reaching out for coffee and other caffeinated products. Eating a huge bowl of salad is much healthier as compared to pizza. Chewing on salad will probably help calm the mind and body to a greater extent than biting into a soft pizza or desert.

  • Avoid smoking and drinking: Another comfort zone that most people like to join when stressed is to smoke more and drink more, without realizing the fact that both of these habits are damaging psychologically and physiologically. These are not solutions for stress and depression but instead create more problems, mainly because the body will become addicted to nicotine and alcohol. Once people get addicted to these habits, it is like opening a can of fresh worms, which come with its own set of multiple problems.

    Therefore, at times of stress or when one is feeling depressed, it is important to resist the urge to take to smoking, abusing drugs, or drinking.

  • There are several other interesting and productive stress busters if one is serious about beating stress. Join a kick boxing class or go swimming, indulge in some activity that will engage both body and mind - soon, one will realize stress disappears and one is feeling all energetic and refreshed.

Conclusion - Defeating Anxiety, Stress and Depression

While stress and depression are closely interlinked, you must realize that both will affect you only to the extent that you let them bother you. If you decide you are not going to give in to stress, but instead fight it, become more resilient and pick up the pieces and move on, stress will soon become a thing of the past.

On the other hand, the minute we begin to wallow in self pity, indulge in negative and pessimistic thoughts, stress multiplies and starts affecting our mind and ultimately ends up as depression. Therefore, it is always advisable to learn to cope with stress when the first signs start becoming visible.

Similarly, for people who are beginning to feel depressed because of stress, it is important to recognize the various signs and symptoms of depression and to pull themselves out of this experience as quickly as possible. This can be done by investing in some effective mind and body exercise, positive thinking, and discarding all negative, pessimistic, and fearful thoughts.

Just like how we detoxify the physical body of toxins, it is also important to detoxify the mind of all toxic thoughts and emotions. This way, both stress and depression can be effectively prevented and tackled.

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