Linking Stress & Depression, Part 1: Generating Stress

Can stress trigger depression?

Physiological stress or the “fight or flight” response is an instinctual reaction of the human body to perceived threats and dangers. A direct correlation has already been made between stress and the onset of depression.

People who experience high levels of stress have a much higher risk of developing full blow depression.

“Deep stress” from traumatic losses such as the death of a loved one has been touted as one of the major triggers of this mood disorder in both men and women. Elderly patients are more vulnerable to depression especially after the death of a spouse or partner.

Does stress trigger depression uniformly across the population?

No. While it’s true that stress can trigger depression, not everyone who experiences stress will become depressed and not all depressed individuals experienced high levels of stress prior to the actualization of the mood disorder.

Since stress is something that is universally experienced, does its mere presence mean that a person is already at risk for a mood disorder? According to research, the answer is more complex than a simple yes or no. It appears that a person’s mindset towards stress has a more significant impact than stress itself.

If a person is stressed easily, it’s possible that he/she experiences stress more frequently and intensely than other people who know how to manage stress well.

Stress-prone individuals are twice as likely to suffer from bouts of depression than people who have armed themselves with the proper problem-solving mindset needed to reduce the impact of stressful situations.

Why does depression persist in many patients?

First of all, no one wants to be depressed or consciously do things that will help prolong it.

However, when you are already depressed and every aspect of your personality is affected by the mood disorder, what often happens is that you end up doing things that will cause more stress and negativity in your life.

For example, a depressed individual may feel that he is no longer important to his family or friends and so he chooses to isolate himself from others. The lack of regular socialization inhibits the depressed individual’s recovery, which makes him even more depressed than before.

As you can see, depressed individuals have a tendency to perform actions that will have unintended negative consequences in the future.

Since depressed people in general already have a tough time keeping track of small details and organizing their thoughts, the additional burden of having to monitor one’s behavior makes the mood disorder even more difficult to manage.

In short, depressed people actively sustain the stress-generation cycle through the things that they choose to do and they may not even be aware of it. A depressed individual would only be able to address such an issue if his current support system will help him see the cycle in the first place.

Can romantic and/or intimate relationships help a person with depression?

Yes, it’s possible for a depressed individual to find adequate support and healing from his/her partner or spouse. However, what usually happens is that depressed people tend to create mistakes when making important decisions, such as choosing new partners.

Many studies have shown that depressed individuals lean toward making the wrong choices.

Obviously, making the wrong choices is not intentional but the bottom line here is that if you are depressed, many of your decisions and actions may require some rethinking because they can inadvertently land you in trouble in the near future.

If you’re having trouble making the right decisions, you have two easy choices: suspend your decision for at least another day so you can think it over or you can ask someone you trust for advice. You might be surprised to find out how few depressed individuals reach out to others before making decisions.

Reaching out to other people will definitely improve your perspective and allowing trusted individuals in your support network to give you much-needed you advice will probably save you from a lot of heartaches and disappointments.

Do depressed individuals enjoy having a low mood?

From the perspective of someone who does not have the disorder, it may appear that depressed people “want” to feel depressed and isolated all the time because they are unable to do anything that addresses their problems or they are unable to move quickly enough. Contrary to common belief, depressed people do not enjoy their depression and all the symptoms that come with it.

Depressed people suffer from their condition and are in constant, unimaginable mental pain. Remember this the next time you meet someone who is suffering from this kind of mood disorder.