Understanding the link between chronic stress and depression

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The FINANCIAL — Depression is a mood disorder that causes a persistent feeling of sadness and loss of interest. It affects how you feel, think and behave, and it can lead to emotional and physical problems, Mayo Clinic notes.

It’s not known exactly what causes depression. Many factors may be involved, including genetics, brain chemistry, hormones and inherited traits. Chronic stressful life situations can increase your risk of developing depression if you aren’t coping with stress well.

Stress itself isn’t abnormal or bad. Rather, stress is a normal psychological and physical reaction to positive or negative situations in your life, such as a new job or the death of a loved one. What’s important is how you deal with stress.

Can chronic stress cause depression?

Answer From Daniel K. Hall-Flavin, M.D., Mayo Clinic notes.

Depression has many possible causes, such as genetics, brain chemicals and your life situation. Chronic stressful life situations can increase the risk of developing depression if you aren’t coping with the stress well. There’s also increasing evidence of links among poor coping, stress and physical illness.

Stress is a normal psychological and physical reaction to positive or negative situations in your life, such as a new job or the death of a loved one. Stress itself isn’t abnormal or bad. What’s important is how you deal with stress.

If you’re having trouble coping, chronic stress can wear you down and overwhelm you. You may frequently be in a bad mood, your productivity may decrease, your relationships may suffer, you may develop sleep problems, and you might even find it difficult to go about your normal daily routine.

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You can try some self-help stress relievers to get your stress under control, such as:

Trying meditation, yoga or deep breathing
Getting regular physical activity
Getting enough sleep
Eating a healthy diet
Managing your time
Cutting back on obligations
If your stress management efforts aren’t helpful enough, see your doctor. If you’ve developed depression, you and your doctor can discuss treatment options.

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