This article describes how stress causes depression anxiety, the different types of stress, and how to use scientifically powerful stress management techniques to boost your depression anxiety recovery.
How Stress Causes Depression Anxiety
First, before we get into how stress causes depression anxiety, it is important to note that there are two main causes of depression anxiety, stress and physical causes.
Physical causes of depression anxiety include antibiotics, poor diet, alcoholism, hormonal conditions, poor sleep, pregnancy, ibuprofen and other NSAID pain relievers, chlorinated drinking water, stroke, heart attack, allergies and more.
Physical factors can cause depression anxiety by themselves, or more than likely, in combination with stress. However, even if your cause of depression anxiety is purely physical, depression anxiety creates its own stress which can keep you trapped in depression anxiety.
How stress causes depression anxiety is by damaging your gut. Study. Stress releases hormones which interrupt the digestive process, leading to a damaged and leaky gut Study, which then leads to inflammation in the body and brain causing depression anxiety.
Learn More: How Stress Causes Depression Anxiety
Types of Stress
There are two types of stress – chronic and traumatic. Chronic stress can come from many and any source including work, relationships, school, finances, social media, and more.
Traumatic stress can include war (PTSD), natural disasters, bullying, racism, physical or sexual abuse, and more. Although a traumatic stress event may be short-lived, an earthquake may last only 30 seconds, the worry, fear, anxiety and stress can persist long enough after the event to cause damage to the gut and depression anxiety.
Symptoms of depression anxiety after a traumatic stress event may appear 6 months or more after the event. It takes time to damage the gut.
Neuronal activity in the medial pre-frontal cortex area of the brain determines who is more prone to get depression anxiety from stress. Which is why two people may experience the same traumatic stressful event and only one gets depression anxiety. Study. Around 20% of the population have this biological pre-disposition to stress induced depression anxiety.
In any case, whether the cause of depression anxiety is chronic stress, traumatic stress, or physical, once depression anxiety sets in, as was mentioned earlier, the condition itself produces stress which causes damage to the gut and keeps you trapped in depression anxiety.
A negative feedback loop is created. Stress damages the gut, which causes depression anxiety, which creates stress, which damages the gut…
Therefore, it is important for depression anxiety recovery, that this negative stress feedback loop be interrupted and converted to a positive feedback loop, to give your gut and brain a chance to heal. The method is to attack depression anxiety at both ends of the gut-brain axis.
Learn More: Gut Brain Connection Depression Anxiety
To accomplish this, we use diet and supplements to heal the gut, and exercise and cognitive behavioral therapy techniques to manage stress. Diet and supplements for depression are extensively covered on this site, next we will briefly describe the benefits of exercise, and then concentrate on cognitive behavioral therapy.
Exercise for Stress Management
Scientific studies have shown how exercise reduces stress and depression anxiety. Exercise reduces inflammation in the body and brain, and produces Brain Derived Neutrophic Factor (BDNF), which creates new brain cells.
Regular exercise, both strength and cardiovascular, is the cheapest and easiest method of stress reduction and works as well or better than medication for depression anxiety.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
Cognitive behavioral therapy is one of most powerful tools a person can use for stress management and depression anxiety recovery. It has been shown to work better than medication for most forms of depression anxiety. Study.
How cognitive behavioral therapy works is by creating a short circuit in the brain-gut axis, stopping the signaling and production of stress hormones by the brain, which end up damaging the gut leading to depression anxiety.
Traditionally, cognitive behavioral therapy was used to treat specific fears and phobias, such as fear of flying, fear of public speaking, fear of dogs etc. Modern cognitive behavioral therapy include techniques such as Mindfulness Meditation.
Mindfulness Meditation is where you sit quietly, and consciously banish from your head all regrets from the past, and worries and fears about the future, and focus only on the now. Regrets, fears, worries are negative emotional thoughts which triggers the release of stress hormones.
Even though a mindfulness meditation session may be short, the effects can be long-lasting, long enough to enable your gut to begin to heal. And although mindfulness meditation is usually practiced in a group setting with a certified cognitive behavioral therapist, mindfulness meditation is something you can try on your own for free.
Power of Positive Thinking
Adding positive thinking, or positive self messaging, is another powerful cognitive behavioral tool you can use to overcome stress, depression and anxiety.
Positive thinking is so powerful in fact, that by itself, positive thinking can cure many different medical conditions. See List. Positive thinking is how the placebo effect works. Where individuals who receive a fake pill, see their actual physical ailments disappear, because they believe the fake pill will have a positive effect.
What is happening with the placebo effect and positive thinking, is that because the individual believes they are going to get better, they stop worrying about their condition and stop releasing stress hormones, which enables their gut to heal.
People with depression anxiety tend to engage in repetitive negative emotional thinking i.e., regret, shame, anger, worry, fear. Constant negative thinking, continuously releases stress hormones, continually damaging the gut and keeping the person in depression anxiety. For the gut to heal, and to recover from depression anxiety, negative emotional thinking must be stopped and replaced with positive thinking.
The trick to positive thinking, and positive self messaging, is to first recognize when you are experiencing negative thinking. Then, you must tell yourself that these negative thoughts are caused by depression anxiety. And finally, you must replace the negative thought with a positive thought.
As an example, if you catch yourself telling yourself that. “I feel so bad. I’m never going to get better.” Tell yourself, the reason I feel so bad is because I have depression anxiety, and that you are going to start a diet, exercise, supplement program and “I am going to get better.”
Another example. If you’re depressed because of a divorce and the negative thought is that you will never meet anyone again. Tell yourself that the reason you’re having this negative thought is because of depression anxiety, and that you are going to beat depression anxiety, and meet someone even better.
Do the same for any negative thinking you engage in, every time a negative thought enters your mind, and fairly quickly the negative thinking will stop. When the negative thinking stops, the gut gets a chance to heal, and the depression anxiety goes down and finally away.
Cognitive Vulnerability and Stress
Researchers know that some people are more prone to getting depression anxiety based on their cognitive vulnerability.
Your cognitive vulnerability to depression anxiety is a learned behavioral response to stress, which is formed in your adolescence and teen years, by copying the way (usually family and friends) those around you respond to stress.
Cognitive vulnerability to depression anxiety is contagious, which is why many people erroneously believe, that depression anxiety is genetic.
Learn More: Depression Anxiety is Contagious
How you respond to stress, either positively or negatively, to a great degree determines if you will get depression anxiety.
Cognitive vulnerability to stress and depression anxiety, explains why two people may experience the same traumatic event, and one person gets depression anxiety while the other person does not. The person who responds to the traumatic event with chronic negative thinking is more likely to get depression anxiety.
As an example, a tornado wipes out the homes in a neighborhood. One neighbor breaks down and constantly regrets not saving the pictures and worrying about how they are going to rebuild. While the other neighbor is grateful that everyone is alive and is looking forward to getting the kitchen and bathroom they always wanted.
A tornado is an extreme example, but the principle of cognitive vulnerability translates into everyday stresses, and how you respond.
The good news is that since cognitive vulnerability, the way you respond to stress, is a learned behavior, it can be unlearned and replaced with a more positive cognitive behavioral response to stress.
As an example, if someone cuts you off in traffic, instead of getting angry, honking your horn and cursing, relax and say to yourself “Whatever. I’m going to get home and he’s probably going to end up in a wreck down the road.”
It’s not easy to change a behavior you have had since childhood, but through self-awareness, positive thinking and self messaging, you can change the way you respond to stress.
And when you positively change the way you respond to stress, you stop releasing stress hormones, giving your gut a chance to heal, stopping the inflammation in your brain which causes depression anxiety.
Although chronic, or traumatic stress, is a major cause of depression anxiety. Stress management is only one aspect of depression anxiety recovery. If you continue to eat a bad diet, and don’t exercise, you may not be able to fully recover from depression anxiety. Learn more about the role diet, supplements, and exercise have on depression anxiety.
Depression Anxiety Diet
Depression Anxiety Exercise
Depression Anxiety Supplements