Stress is something most of us will face at some point in our lives, but combined with depression it will have a greater negative impact on this person than on someone who is healthy. You may ask yourself if stress and depression are connected, and what kind of treatments are available to treat these symptoms?
In the following article, I will talk about:
- What is stress and how it can impact us negatively
- The link between depression and stress
- 7 tips on how to overcome stress and depression
What is Stress and How it can Impact Us Negatively
It is important to note that stress is not always a bad thing. Motivation to do a good job will often come from feeling pressure or stress. However, when your mind is in constant crisis mode and you constantly feel stressed, this can be detrimental to your health and general well-being. For this reason, it is important to look at exactly what is stress and how it can have a negative impact on us.
Stress can be hard to define as it is experienced differently by everyone. In the psychological field, stress is defined as your body’s physical or psychological response to a demand or danger, whether it be real or fictional. When such situation occurs, your body automatically goes into what is known as fight or flight mode. During this process, hormones such as adrenaline and cortisol are discharged causing your body to respond with a rapid heartbeat and breathing, muscle contractions, and high blood pressure. It will also heighten your senses, thus preparing you to either fight or flee from the perceived danger.
Because our nervous system does not differentiate emotional and physical stress, your body will respond in the same way to all stressors whether it is from work, a fight with your significant other, not having enough money as it would if you were facing a life or death situation, or simply having too much on your agenda to handle in one day.
Too much stress can have a severe impact on us negatively. When a person is living in a constant state of stress they are increasing their risk for health problems such as:
- Heart disease
- Digestive problems
- Dementia or other types of memory problems
- Depression and anxiety
- Chronic pain
- Skin problems such as psoriasis
- Fertility issues
- Accelerated aging or premature death
As you can see, that is quite a long list of issues that can arise simply from being exposed to too much stress in our lives.
The Link Between Stress and Depression
You may be asking yourself what causes stress? And if there is a link between depression and stress? There are many things in our daily life that can cause stress. It can be any environmental stressor such as an argument with your significant other, a loss of employment, a natural disaster, having an accident or getting hurt, or even getting robbed or attacked.
Certain choices we make in our daily lives can also increase stress. These include substance abuse such as drugs and alcohol, not exercising, not having a healthy diet, over exhausting ourselves at work, spending too much time watching television or playing video games, procrastinating and having all of your due-dates sneak up on you, and one that most of us are guilty of, using our phones in bed surprisingly. That last one is important because a lot of people don’t realize that when you look at your Smartphone before going to sleep, it will impact how well you will sleep. It is important to shut your mind off as soon as you lay in bed to go to sleep.
What is its link with depression?
An abundance of stress can impact us severely as mentioned above, physically and mentally. As such, an abundance of stress is a huge contributor to developing depression or symptoms of depression. It also works the other way around. When we have depression, stress affects us differently. An overload of stress on top of an already existing mental illness such as depression is detrimental and makes us feel even more stressed. It’s another problem on top of an already severe one.
Depression and stress is not the same thing, but they often go hand in hand. Therefore, when we are depressed we tend to be more stressed, and when we have too many stressors in our life there is a greater chance of us developing depression.
Our mental health can be very negatively affected by stress in the following ways:
- Sleep issues can arise including insomnia or bad dreams.
- Cognitive faculties such as concentration can be affected
- You may get irritable or more easily frustrated with tasks that do not normally cause issues
- It will affect healthy coping mechanisms that you have developed to deal with depression
- Unhealthy coping mechanisms such as substance abuse can arise
- It creates a vicious cycle because when you feel stressed, your mood will be lowered and this will cause more stress.
- There can be negative impacts on relationships as these feelings we experience with stress can bring on arguments and instability between two people
- Our routines can be disrupted, this includes not maintaining a healthy eating and sleeping schedule.
Because of all these negative impacts that stress can have on us, including physical and mental health issues, it is important to us to find ways to better cope with these.
7 Tips on How to Overcome Stress and Depression
1 – Do something relaxing: This can be different for each person and only you know what you enjoy doing that makes you feel relaxed. Maybe you like to meditate or do yoga. Your thing may be to sit down and listen to music, or even go for a walk while listening to music. For me, I like to write, this doesn’t mean journaling and writing about the problems that are stressing me. When I need to distress, I will often do writing workshops and practice by writing about anything that comes to my mind.
2 – Exercise: As I mentioned in the previous tip, something relaxing for you could be to go for a walk while listening to music. Personally, and I know I’m not alone, it is hard to motivate myself to exercise. I find that if I can listen to music at the same time, it can make it easier and more enjoyable. If you have a dog, this can also be a motivation for you to exercise as you will both be benefiting. As a bonus, you get to spend quality time with your furry friend, which can also be beneficial to reduce stress.
3 – Healthy eating: I know we hear it all the time; to help with depression and stress you need to eat well and exercise. I get tired of hearing it as well, but it is a very important part of maintaining a healthy mind and body. There are ways to make healthy eating enjoyable. What I find beneficial is preparing something with my partner. I’m a very bad cook and am lucky to be with someone who is good at it, so this allows me to learn new things while also doing an activity that will bring us closer together.
4 – Limit alcohol, caffeine and drug use: I say limit, but depending on the person this could mean eliminating it completely. I’m not saying that it’s not okay to have a drink occasionally or to drink your coffee in the morning, but because these can cause increased anxiety, it is best to keep them at a minimum. Also, some people have substance abuse issues so when these come into play it is important to avoid such consumption, as it will only cause further stress. Addiction causes even more stress as it affects relationships that causes money issues and brings on other health issues.
5 – Laugh a little: Don’t be afraid to a take time out and laugh. I love watching sitcoms, stand-up comedians, or comedies just to take my mind off things and laugh. Another thing I enjoy doing is spending time with someone I know I can always have a good laugh with. They say laughter is the best medicine and in a lot of cases they are not wrong. Being able to laugh just gives you a general sense of well-being in that moment – all your problems disappear thus lowering your stress level.
6 – Stay positive: Being positive has been proven to be important not only to fight mental illness, but also physical illness. A positive attitude can go a long way. This is one thing I try to focus a lot of energy on because I am a strong believer in positive thinking. This is kind of like “The Secret” or the power of attraction because when you think positive thoughts you attract positive in return. I understand firsthand that this is not easy, and some days will be harder than others, but I always try to bring myself back to thinking positive when everything seems to be going wrong. With having depression, staying positive may seem impossible with negativity smacking you all the time. However, it is extremely important for you to at least try to filter out this negativity with positive energy. Think about your happy place or your best memory.
7 – Try natural supplements: There is a lot of focus on medication these days, but often vitamins and natural remedies can be more beneficial. Check out the following article which gives us a great list of the Top 10 Vitamins for Depression.
Stress and depression can have a very negative effect on our life in general. The combination sometimes feels inevitable, which is why it is important you manage it effectively. It’s also important for us to take the time to better understand what and how various parts of our lives influence our moods or behaviors. When in this negative state of mind, I know it is hard to find the motivation to do anything, but if nothing is done it will only get worse. Integrating these tips into your daily life can have a very positive impact on how you feel day-to-day. Never give up and remember every little thing counts!
If you have any questions, or want to add anything to what I have said, or you simply want to chat, please feel free to leave me a comment below.