The human journey offers many opportunities to experience the whole range of emotions available to human beings, from ecstatic happiness and joy through to abject fear, grief and despair.
Most of us at some stage will feel some, if not all of these emotions, and while life would be much easier if there were no negative situations to deal with, most of us who experience trying times will eventually move through them and step back into the mainstream of life. Unfortunately this is not the case for everyone. An unexpected, shocking or tragic event causing stress can push some people into a state where they are unable to cope with even the simplest routines of daily life.
Sometimes even positive or happy events that involve change such as moving to another city or state, starting a new job, or getting married can cause stress.
In a similar manner to negative events, these situations can, in some people, develop further into depression. Professional assistance through counseling can help people in these situations to understand what is happening to them.
While we now accept that the experiences of life have an effect on the mind,
what is less understood is the complex relationship between stressful situations, how the mind and body reacts to that stress, and the likelihood that this relationship will trigger the onset of clinical depression. In fact, stress and depression can happen to people whose lives appear to be relatively free of negative events. To further complicate matters, a stressful event that can cause one person to become clinically depressed will not have the same effect on a different person.
There are different stages in the average person’s life where stress and depression can go hand-in-hand.
The adolescent trying to find a way in life, the middle-aged manager made redundant, the mother whose children have finally left home, people living in abusive relationships are all under elevated levels of stress. To be in this state for prolonged periods of time can lead to depression through the belief that the person is powerless to change their situation, a condition known as “learned helplessness.”
In many instances, people suffering from depression report that a single traumatic event such as the sudden death of a loved one preceded the depression, suggesting that the stress of the event caused the depressive state.
It is a sobering thought that a single traumatic event could be enough to cause an episode of depression that could negatively impact lives for some time.
Stress and depression are, unfortunately, a fact of modern life and our ability to recognise and deal with the effects is essential to a smooth recovery. Professional help is readily available, and anyone suffering from depression should not be afraid to attend a consultation.