Death of a loved one, losing a job, or taking care of a terminally-ill family member are just a few of life’s stressful situations. Both acute and chronic stress can lead to major depression in vulnerable people and cause their body’s stress-response mechanism to be overworked.
In sustained stress, your cortisol levels spike, your serotonin levels drop, as well as neurotransmitters like dopamine, which is usually linked to depression.
The stress-depression connection is a complex cycle. Those who are stressed out often do not practice healthy lifestyle choices. Many researchers say stress often leads you to behaviors and patterns that in turn can lead into chronic stress and increase your risk for major depression.
Interestingly, many brain changes during depression resemble the effects of prolonged, severe stress.
You can reduce your risk for developing depression or keep your depression from reoccurring by adopting a few lifestyle changes that help manage your body’s stress responses to healthy levels.
Here are a few tips to help reduce stress and build your resilience against stress and depression:
Half an hour of moderate exercise, such as swimming or walking five days a week, is a great way to get started into the habit. Exercise signals your body to release chemicals that stimulate the hormones and neurotransmitters that help reduce stress.
Build strong, supportive relationships
Depression is aggravated by isolation. Conversely, belonging in a strong, supportive, positive community keeps people from falling over the deep end.
Engage in meditative exercises
Researchers say that yoga, prayer, meditation, and/or psychotherapy helps in retraining your brain and may have a positive effect on your emotional brain circuits.
Eat well and avoid alcohol
Stress may cause you to drink too much alcohol, a known mood suppressor.
Make time for yourself
Always find time to pursue creative outlets or pick up on an old or new hobby. Schedule mini-vacations as they may be more beneficial in stress reduction.
These tips appear originally on this article by WebMD.
You may or may not aware that you’re already extremely stressed or depressed. Take this quiz to find out.
How do you manage stress? Let us know in the comments below!