Did you know that depression is a member of a family? Most of us don’t, but it is! Its mother is called “negative thinking,” its father is called “harsh judgment,” and its siblings are anxiety, anger, and hostility.
What they all have in common is stress, a condition that results when a person perceives that they do not have the resources or ability to cope with a situation. When this occurs, stress and depression enter in to a dance, meaning, individuals who are both depressed and stressed have a similar biochemical profile: fatigue, a depressed immune system, or decreased creativity. Because of this, if you deal with one, it helps to “disable” the other.
Recent research has shown that babies of stressed mothers have lower birth weight and an increased propensity to be obese. Research has also revealed that the brains of depressed individuals have reduced nerve growth in the pre-fontal cortex—the conscious thinking brain. Because of this, depression may make you less mentally competent in various ways, such as being more forgetful, or finding it harder to complete tasks.
De-stress to “de-depress”
Depression and stress may be a family affair, but it can take a village of strategies to manage them. Here, some get-started steps to disengage from these unwelcome visitors:
• If negative thinking or a stressful situation or relationship is at the core of your depression, the good news is that there’s a lot you can do about it. The first step is awareness; become aware of what is causing your depression. To begin, listen to your self-talk. What beliefs do you have that feed your negative “mind chatter?” Are you overly critical of yourself or your prospects?
• When you become aware of a negative thought or a depressed feeling, consider looking at the other side of the issue. By considering both the positive and negative aspects of a situation, your thinking will become more balanced. In turn, you’re likely to realize you’re not stuck; that you have choices.
• At least once every day, do something you really enjoy.