Most people assume that stress and depression are two very different problems, and while this might be the case, what these individuals don’t realize is that eventually, one can lead to the other. While depressed people might not always become stressed, when people are stressed for long periods of time, there is a higher chance of them becoming depressed.
Understanding a bit more about the underlying processes, as well as the connection between depression and stress can help people make a decision to take action and prevent them from ignoring an issue that could have long lasting and dire effects.
How Stress Directly Leads To Depression
Stress can directly lead to feelings of low mood and depression by causing a person to stop sleeping properly, by constantly distracting them with negative thoughts and by making them irritable. In most cases, people stop feeling depressed, irritable or even angry once a particularly stressful period of their life has passed, but for those who remain stressed and anxious, this isn’t always the case.
Developing Unhealthy Coping Mechanisms
People who stress every now and again about situational factors tend to utilize normal and healthy coping mechanisms to get by. Going for a walk, watching a movie or visiting a friend are all examples of these behaviors. When a person struggles to stop feeling stressed out all the time, however, they might begin to develop unhealthy coping mechanisms, such as taking drugs, drinking alcohol etc.
Over time, these unhealthy coping mechanisms begin to cause further difficulties in a person’s life, therefore exacerbating the problem. In many instances, people who develop drug and alcohol dependencies lose their jobs, or are only able to find poorly paying, low level positions, and are therefore able to get very little satisfaction from their professional lives.
Disrupting Personal Relationships
A person who is always irritable can be very difficult to be around, and over time, a person might struggle to maintain relationships with people who they once relied on, including family and friends. Over time, a person might lose these important support structures, which are integral to healthy functioning, and make it even more difficult to seek healthier coping mechanisms, or obtain assistance in those cases where they simply can’t help themselves.
A Downward Spiral
Over time, stress begins to affect every facet of a person’s life, until they find it difficult to cope and they begin to get depressed. This condition causes their motivation levels to drop, causes people to feel lethargic or make it difficult to sleep and generally makes it even more difficult for them to cope with their stress levels.
Understanding how stress can eventually lead to depression can help individuals to take notice of those instances where they feel their stress levels are beginning to rise so that they can take action to start coping effectively with them. Not allowing these levels to get out of control plays a big part in preventing them from damaging other aspects of a person’s life. This can go a long way in preventing someone from developing depression as a result.