Exploring Depression Triggers, Part 1

What are triggers and how do they affect clinical depression?

A trigger is a thought, emotion, action or situation that causes a person to experience heightened or elevated episodes of depression. Each person has a unique set of triggers.

Knowing your triggers and understanding how they make you feel afterwards is essential if you want to avoid or manage them.

Today’s blog post will center on general depression triggers so that you can recognize them for what they are and eventually phase them out of your life. Being cognizant of common triggers will give you more control of your mood disorder and your life in general.

What can trigger bouts of depression?

  1. Positive and negative events – Believe it or not, even positive occurrences in a depressed person’s life can trigger low mood. For example, let’s say that a depressed patient was suddenly given a promotion and a bonus.

The patient may become depressed because of the higher expectations that people have of him in the company.

He may also worry about all the additional time that he would have to spend in the office just to live up to his new title. While other people would be celebrating because a promotion usually translates to better financial stability, a depressed person may have a completely different perspective of the situation.

If you catch yourself being more worried and anxious when things are going great, remind yourself that you didn’t think the same way before the depression took root and what you’re feeling and thinking at the moment is just the mood disorder talking, not you.

  1. Major life changes – Getting married, the death of a loved one, undergoing surgery – all these unusual occurrences can also trigger depression. The reasons why this happens is simple: depressed individuals are very sensitive to changes in their lives. Changes, big and small, tend to disrupt a person’s equilibrium.

People who don’t suffer from mood disorders can easily adapt and bounce back from such changes.

The same cannot be said of every individual who is suffering from a mood disorder, which is why major life changes are also considered a major trigger for depression.

In the event that you’ve experienced an unsettling change in your life and you feel a deep bout of depression coming because of it, reach out to the people that you trust the most and share the details of the life change.

Often, talking about something that you feel is causing a big issue in your life at the moment gives you more control of the event. If you don’t want to reach out to your family or friends, reach out to a psychotherapist so that he/she is aware of your exact mindset at the moment.

Believe that you can adapt to the change that you’ve just experienced and also remind yourself that life is all about changes. Life isn’t about stasis and being in one place forever – it’s about growth, change and development. Depression doesn’t take away your ability to adapt to change.

  1. Routine interruptions – Depressed individuals often develop very fragile routines that also become indicators of their mood stability and overall happiness throughout the day. If this fragile structure is somehow disturbed or ‘destroyed’ by events and circumstances that are beyond the control of the depressed individual, the loss of structure may cause major symptoms of the mood disorder to flare.

Unexpected interruptions trigger the worst bouts of depression. Prepare yourself by making alternate plans to compensate for disturbances to your structure.

For example, if you like a few hours of solitude before bedtime but a sudden visit from a friend or family member has taken away these few hours from you, consider moving your bedtime a little so you still have a short “me time” before going to sleep.

What’s important is that you are always motivated to adapt to different situations, whenever they should come.

  1. Stress – Too much stress can trigger the onset of a mood disorder and it can definitely trigger additional episodes of deep depression in both men and women.

Your best protection against too much stress is knowing how to manage it effectively. Create coping strategies that do not involve tobacco, alcohol or drugs as these substances will have a negative impact on your brain’s already fragile chemistry.

Avoid lashing out in anger when you’re stressed as anger can trigger a further cascade of negative emotions, which will not help you cope with your depression. Emotional stability should be your utmost priority at all times.