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Stress and depression
Anxiety, stress and depression can be caused by many factors and knowing what these factors are will help you to avoid falling into a deep depression, which can creep up unexpectedly.
Some of the main factors which can cause stress and depression are:
- Disruption of chemicals in the body such as serotonin, noradrenalin and dopamine by stress.
- Lack of self confidence and self esteem
- Unable to express yourself properly causing frustration and stress
- Negative thinking or incorrect beliefs, causing worry
- Learned depressive behavior from a family member or close frien
- Excessive change in life situation
- Work pressure
- Grief or loss
What is depression?
Although depression is not only caused by stress and anxiety. Stress, anxiety and depression are linked and are often experienced together at some time or another.
Someone with depression may have a hard time describing their symptoms and explaining how they feel. It can so easily be dismissed as someone just feeling sorry for themselves. Depression has many causes and should not be confused with just having down days. When depression does strike it may be the result of long term periods of anxiety, stress and pressure.
Depression strikes at least 1 in every 8 men and 1 in every 5 women throughout life and so is one of the most common yet undiagnosed illnesses.
The reason many sufferers do not have it properly diagnosed is because they may see it as a weakness i.e not being able to cope with life’s pressures.
The symptoms of depression are so varied and can differ from one person to the next.
If you or someone you know is experiencing symptoms of anxiety, stress and depression it should be of concern and you seek medical help.
Depression, to provide a brief description, is essentially a prolonged period of low mood. We all go through many different moods throughout our life, but they are rarely constant. It is only when a low mood becomes a permanent state that it is classed as depression. Feelings of being miserable or sad for one day is not and should not be called depression.
When stress and anxiety are prolonged causing disruption of the body’s chemical balance and causing the persons general mood to be low more often than not, this is when anxiety depression kicks in.
Symptoms of anxiety depression
Here are the most common and important signs and symptoms which constitute a depressed state.
- Low mood every day for a long period of time
- Do not enjoy anything anymore have lost the sense of pleasure in anything you do
- Significant weight gain or weight loss or loss of appetite
- Problems sleeping on a regular basis
- Feeling tired all the time, have a real lack of energy
- Loss of concentration
- Feelings of worthlessness
Stress and depression, who is more prone to symptoms?
Basically anyone who experiences high levels of extreme stress for a prolonged period of time can fall prey to depression. However there are groups of people who seem to be more vulnerable to this type of depression.
Figures from a survey carried out in 2001 for the mental health Foundation have indicated that in Britain, 46% of male students and 64% of female students experienced depression.
Possible causes are:
- Financial worries,
- Poor nutrition
- Lack of exercise
- Excessive drug and alcohol use
Around 1 in 5 elderly people suffer from depression, this is slightly higher for those who live in residential care homes.
Possible causes are:
- Loneliness Boredom
- Loss of partner
- Health worries
- Side effects of medication
Being unemployed is an extremely stressful period in anyone’s life and in Britain it has been constantly shown that around 40% suffer from depression.
- Financial worries
- Feelings of worthlessness
- Boredom and lack of stimulation
- Pressure from family members
Stress and depression, ways to fight it
Of course tackling the root cause of your stress and implementing stress relief strategies is a major to do if suffering from anxiety depression. However there are certain things you can do to tackle your actual low mood.
- Make a to do list for every day. This may only consist of one thing, such as do the washing or call a friend. But forcing yourself to do at least one thing a day will help break your lethargy and will boost your self esteem. I.e. you achieved something and you can put a big tick next to it on your list.
- Keep a diary. Write down everything you do and note down how much you enjoyed it or not. Then read back and try to do more of the things that you enjoyed the most.
- When thinking negative thoughts, write them down and challenge them. As yourself if they are really true or not. Never keep your feelings to yourself. Talking through how you feel with someone is the first step on your path to recovery.
- Try to keep active, exercise a little more each day. This will help to raise your mood enhancing chemicals in your brain.
Some additional self help tips to fight against stress and depression
- Don’t let your appearance slip even though you may feel there is no point. Letting yourself go can lead to further depressed feelings.
- Break daily tasks down into small pieces
- Reduce amounts of fats, salt, caffeine and alcohol in your diet
- Take regular exercise as this helps to produce natural anti depressant chemicals in the brain.
- Increase your daily intake of B Vitamins. these come from whole grains, soya and oily fish. Nutrition is very important when the body is under stress.
- Try to keep social, don’t shut yourself away from people. Regular communication will help lift your mood.