How stress can lead to depression
Did you know that when someone is depressed, they always have higher levels of the stress hormone cortisol in their blood streams? Understanding the link between stress and depression is an important step towards prevention.
Stress can directly mood effect
Early initial signs of lowered mood include Irritability, sleep disruption and impaired concentration but it’s the indirect effects of stress that can cause depression to take hold.
When we’re stressed we often stop doing the very things that keep us balanced and on track, things like exercise, good food and socialising. When we stop caring for ourselves in this way, stress levels increase and so does the risk of depression.
How the cycle starts
An early low mood can increase the stress levels if you start to worry and ruminate about the fact that you’re not coping. For example you might have an irritable outburst at work and get a complaint; if you can’t concentrate because you’re stressed, you make mistakes. When we’re irritable, overworked or withdrawn our relationships suffer. This just makes us feel even more stressed and down, and so the cycle is reinforced.
Unhealthy coping strategies
People will often resort to unhealthy coping strategies like cigarettes or alcohol or carbohydrate rich food to try to alleviate the stressed feeling.
Some Practical Tips for Preventing the Cycle of Depression
Identify your healthy coping strategies and if need be have a friend or family member support you to stick to them.
Recognise your early warning signs, are you more irritable, not sleeping as well as you normally do, eating more starchy or sugary foods?
Switch off, tune out, calm down
Switch off the TV or radio, close your computer, turn off your mobile phone – listen to quiet soothing music, read a good book, have a bath. By relaxing properly and often, you will lower your stress hormone levels, feel calmer and more grounded, and bypass the road that leads to depression