Stress or depression fact sheet

Everybody feels stressed from time to time, but chronic stress can cause both physical and mental harm.

Stressors can trigger a variety of health problems

  • High blood pressure 
  • Heart disease 
  • Stroke 
  • Decreased immune defenses 
  • Stomach problems 
  • Diminished brain functioning

The good news is there are stress management strategies you can explore to reduce tensions.

How to reduce stressors

  • Connect with others - spend time with family and friends
  • Stay positive - give yourself a pep talk
  • Get physically active - take a walk or a bike ride
  • Help others - volunteer
  • Get enough sleep - seven to nine hours is recommended
  • Eat well - don't forget your fruits and veggies
  • Take care of your spirit - meditate or try yoga
  • Seek professional help if you need it.

Depression from stress

In some, stress can lead to serious mental health problems such as depression. Depression is more than just a rough patch. Also known as major depression, major depressive disorder, and clinical depression, it is a serious condition that impacts every facet of your world, such as your social life, relationships, career, physical, and overall self-worth and purpose. Screenings are often the first step in getting help and should be a routine part of your health care.

Symptoms of depression

Those suffering from depression often experience some of these key symptoms.

  • A persistent sad, anxious, or "empty" mood
  • Sleeping too little or sleeping too much
  • Reduced appetite and weight loss, or increased appetite and weight gain
  • Loss of interest or pleasure in activities once enjoyed
  • Restlessness or irritability
  • Difficulty concentrating, remembering or making decisions
  • Fatigue or loss of energy
  • Thoughts of death or suicide

Women are about twice as likely as men to suffer from depression. This two-to-one difference persists across racial, ethnic, and economic divides. This gender difference in rates of depression is found in most countries around the world.

Causes of depression that are specific to women

These are biological, hormonal, and psychological.

  • Premenstrual problems
  • Pregnancy and fertility
  • Postpartum depression
  • Perimenopause and menopause
  • Focusing on and rehashing negative feelings
  • Stress
  • Body image issues

With a few simple lifestyle changes, such as the support of friends and family, avoiding the urge to isolate yourself, exercising, getting in some sun time, eating healthy and relaxation techniques, you can help lessen your feelings of depression. If your symptoms persist, you may want to discuss medication, psychological counseling or other treatment options with your doctor.

Last reviewed: 
May 2016

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