Stress takes a toll on your mental and physical health. But if you have depression, it can be even more negatively impacting. When dealing with stress and depression, you may feel like it’s nearly impossible to maintain healthy coping strategies to manage your depression.
When you feel stressed in general and even more stressed about managing your depression, you risk throwing caution to the wind and resort to negative coping strategies like withdrawing from society or drinking alcohol. And when you do that, you exacerbate your depression, and the cycle continues!
The best thing you can do is to learn and understand healthy coping strategies for stress. This will help you not only reduce stress but it can also help alleviate depression symptoms.
The Undeniable Link Between Stress and Depression
Stress and depression have a bidirectional relationship, meaning one affects the other and vice versa. Of course, you can experience one without the other, but there is definitely a viable connection between the two.
While stress doesn’t “cause” depression, it can contribute to your ability to cope with challenging life situations and circumstances. And if you are predisposed to depression, stress could lead to experiencing depression symptoms.
The bidirectional relationship between stress and depression works the other way around, too. If you deal with depression, you likely have more difficulty coping with stress, stressing you out even more and exacerbating symptoms of depression.
Studies have shown that chronic stress is linked to a higher risk of depression, stroke, heart disease, weight gain, memory loss, and even premature death.
Symptoms of Stress That Mirror Symptoms of Depression
Determining whether you’re dealing with stress or depression can be challenging. After all, many chronic stress symptoms look a lot like depression symptoms. And, depending on your situation and genetic makeup, there’s a good chance you could suffer from both.
Here are some of the most common symptoms of stress that are also possible symptoms of depression:
- loss of interest in activities
- inability to concentrate
- regular headaches
- prolonged periods of poor sleep
- unexplained weight gain or loss
- increased anger and irritability
- excessive drug or alcohol use
- feelings of worthlessness
- isolating yourself
Whether you are experiencing stress, depression, or both, seeking professional help and guidance is crucial. A trained mental health clinician can assist you in learning coping strategies for stress and help you overcome depression.
7 Healthy Coping Strategies for Stress and Depression
It’s always best to work with a mental health professional when learning coping strategies for stress and depression. A trusted therapist can work with you on your journey to overcoming your challenges, supporting and encouraging you along the way.
To get you started, here are some practical things you can do to manage stress and depression in a healthy way:
- Prioritize your physical health
One of the most essential things you can do to improve your mental health and reduce stress is to take care of your physical health. It can be challenging to find the motivation to eat a nutritious diet, exercise regularly, and sleep the proper amount when you are stressed or depressed. However, if you set reasonable, attainable goals for caring for your body, you’ll feel motivated to continue moving forward when you achieve them.
- Practice meditation and deep breathing
You don’t have to be a yogi or naturopath to practice meditation and deep breathing. The only thing you have to do is actually do it! Meditation and deep breathing possess several health benefits for both your body and mind and have been proven to have an incredibly positive impact on reducing stress.
When you are stressed, your thoughts race, your breathing becomes shallow, and your muscles tense. This is due to your body’s sympathetic nervous system, or the “fight, flight, or freeze” system. While this is an excellent natural reaction when you are in actual danger, it’s not very helpful when you’re stressed.
Deep breathing and meditation activate your parasympathetic nervous system, otherwise known as the “rest and digest” system. Just a few minutes of deep breathing can work wonders!
- Distance yourself from your stress
When you experience stress, try to identify your feelings and thoughts and recognize that you won’t feel this way forever. To effectively distance yourself from your stress, you must temporarily distract yourself from your current emotions.
You may consider stepping away from your current situation. For example, if social media triggers stress, take a break for a while.
It can be challenging to master, but a trained professional mental health expert can help.
- Consume less caffeine, alcohol, and other substances
Stress may drive you to want to drink alcohol, smoke, or grab a cup of coffee in an attempt to feel better. However, these substances can exacerbate stress and make it more intense.
When you limit substances like these and replace them with healthier coping strategies for stress, you’ll feel healthier and, eventually, learn how to manage without them
- Participate in relaxing, enjoyable hobbies and activities
One excellent way to reduce stress is to carve out time in your regular schedule to do things you love. Think about activities like reading, gardening, painting, listening to music, or even just some quality time with a cherished pet.
Doing things you love can lower stress levels, blood pressure, and cortisol while simultaneously raising serotonin levels, making you feel more content.
- Connect with your support system
It’s essential to stay connected with people you trust and care about. While you may want to isolate yourself from others, relying on a solid support network is crucial to lowering stress levels and reducing depression symptoms.
- Seek professional support
Stress and depression can wreak havoc on your life, and you shouldn’t try to cope alone. A mental health professional can teach you healthy coping strategies for stress, set goals for managing stress and depression better, and be a reliable member of your support network.
Seeking professional help is nothing to be ashamed of. On the contrary, reaching out for help is a sign of strength and shows that you genuinely care about improving your mental and physical health. And that’s good for you and your loved ones.
It’s essential to be in touch with how you’re feeling. And when you feel the stress levels rise, it’s also important to recognize that taking care of yourself is okay. You may feel like making your mental health a priority is selfish. That is, in no way, true. You can’t be your best self without caring for your mental health.
Partner With BOLD Health for Depression Therapy in San Diego
We’re here with open arms at BOLD Health, ready to help you manage stress, depression, and any other mental issues negatively impacting your life. We pride ourselves on taking the necessary time to get to know and understand you, not just your symptoms.
And because we do that, we can customize the perfect treatment program to help you overcome stress and depression. After your initial comprehensive evaluation, we’ll curate an expertly designed program tailored specifically to you.
Depression therapy in San Diego may consist of:
- individual therapy
- group therapy
- medication management
- intensive outpatient program (IOP in San Diego)
- ketamine treatment
Rest assured, we’ll ensure you get the treatment you need. We’re here for you whether you need intensive treatment or a weekly session with an individual therapist.
Contact us for more information about our options for depression therapy in San Diego. The sooner you reach out for help, the sooner you can live a life taken over by stress and depression.