Chronic or long-term stress can contribute to depression, a mood disorder that can significantly interfere with most aspects of life. During the pandemic, cases of depression increased, and stress is believed to be a factor.
Experts say that it’s clear that chronic stress raises the incidence level of depression. This condition can cause feelings of sadness, disinterest in hobbies and activities, decreased appetite, insomnia, and a lack of concentration.
But they also believe that the effects of depression can cause stress. Carol Landau, Ph.D., clinical professor at Brown University says, “The impact of stress on depression, and vice versa, is one of the most important problems of our times.”
The causal relationship between depression and stress is what is known as bidirectional. One can cause the other, and they can both make each other worse.
Depression can cause stress by disrupting life and creating a feeling of isolation. By shrinking interpersonal networks and stopping social activities, stress is more likely to take over.
But the reasons that stress contributes to depression are less obvious. Severe stress such as a divorce or huge financial change is a major stressor that can send the psyche out of equilibrium. When stress levels are chronically raised, something will happen, and it is often depression.
With stress and depression, a few small lifestyle changes may be able to break the cycle and create a positive mindset. If you feel like you’re starting to become depressed, the best thing to do is try and learn some coping strategies for dealing with stress.
Exercise is one of the most important lifestyle changes for stress and depression. Just 30 minutes of physical activity five days a week is enough to make a difference. Yoga is a great way to get exercise and help with relaxation.
What you eat and drink can greatly affect mood disorders, so be sure to consume whole foods with plenty of fruits and vegetables. Cut out alcohol as it can affect sleep and make depression symptoms worse. Caffeine can also affect sleep, and make feelings of stress more intense, so be sure to limit cups of coffee each day.
Getting enough rest can help to put your mind at rest. The National Sleep Foundation recommends 7 to 9 hours a night for adults every night. By avoiding stressors throughout the day, it can also help get a more restful night’s sleep.
By managing lifestyle behaviors, both stress and depression levels could be reduced. As levels of mood disorders increase with the pandemic, it is important to understand how to handle symptoms and reduce risks.