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, a clinical professor at Brown University with a doctorate’s degree, said: “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’s known as bidirectional. Each can cause the other and make the 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 behind stress contributing to depression are less obvious. Severe stress, such as that experienced during a divorce or huge financial change, can send the psyche out of equilibrium. When stress levels are chronically raised, the body gets depleted and depression can follow.
With both stress and depression, a few small lifestyle changes can help break the cycle and create a positive mindset. If you feel like you’re starting to become depressed, the best thing to do is to learn some coping strategies.
Exercise is one of the most important lifestyle changes for stress and depression. Just engaging in 30 minutes of physical activity for five days per week is enough to make a difference. Yoga is a great way to get exercise and to help you relax as well.
What you eat and drink can greatly affect mood disorders, so be sure to consume whole foods and 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 the amount of coffee you drink each day.
Getting enough rest can help to put your mind at rest. The National Sleep Foundation recommends 7 to 9 hours of sleep per night for adults. Avoiding stressors throughout the day can also help you get a more restful night’s sleep.
Social connection can also relax you, helping you feel safe and less isolated.
By managing your lifestyle, you can reduce both stress and depression levels. As the levels of mood disorders increase with the pandemic, it’s important to understand how to handle symptoms and reduce risks.
Sarah Cownley earned a diploma in nutritional therapy from Health Sciences Academy in London, and she enjoys helping others by teaching healthy lifestyle changes through her personal consultations and with her regular contributions to the Doctors Health Press. This article was originally published on Bel Marra Health.