Friday, October 25, 2019

The Link between Stress and Depression

From The Guardian:
Small steps, incremental progress, are something that is emphasised repeatedly on the Cardiff course. This is a way to help break the stress cycle”, which describes how stress becomes chronic and self-sustaining. Let’s start with a relationship breakdown. This causes stress, with low mood, lack of motivation, etc. This leads to reduced socialisation; your friendships suffer, and you end up more miserable, more stressed. So you drink more to feel better, albeit briefly. But this makes you less healthy, more sluggish, and your work suffers. Now your job’s in trouble, your health declining. This causes more stress. So you drink more. Which means more stress. And on and on.

There is no easy fix. But at the very start of the session, we are given a brief, basic set of instructions that could, if adhered to, tangibly reduce stress. There were just 10 words: “Face your fears. Be more active. Watch what you drink.” While simple-sounding, these things conform to what we know about stress, and even mental health problems, in the scientific sense.

Facing your fears is often easier said than done but it’s a valid approach. When we confront something that scares us, that stresses us, we may not enjoy it but we impose certainty on it. All the things that could have happened and had the power to cause stress have been cancelled out. In many cases, facing your fear has a net reduction of your stress due to how our brains work.

Being more physically active is helpful in so many ways. As well as the health benefits, it also maintains a sense of control. My friend Dan found that dealing with his stress and depression has been a lot easier since getting a dog. She needs to be walked no matter what he’s feeling. Taking her means he’s stayed active and achieved something. (Read more.)

 How coffee helps. From Coffee or Die:
Additionally, coffee is a mood booster. You’ve likely seen the “But first, coffee” memes on Instagram. It’s not just a catchy saying or an excuse to blow off your coworker first thing in the morning — it’s a legitimate science-backed statement!  If you’re reading this, then chances are you’re one of the 64 percent of Americans who consume at least one cup of joe daily. Caffeine, the main compound found in coffee, is the world’s most consumed drug, and there are good reasons for that. 
  1. It triggers a dopamine (the neurotransmitter associated with pleasure) response in our brain  
  2. It helps us wake up and feel more alert
  3. It can help combat effects related to depression
(Read more.)

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