Can being stressed lead to depression?

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Debra Fulghum Bruce PhD
Healthcare Specialist

Serotonin is a neurotransmitter in the body linked to mood. When serotonin levels are increased in the brain, it is associated with a calming, anxiety-reducing effect, and in some cases, with drowsiness. But studies show that too much stress or pain can lead to permanently low levels of serotonin, which can result in ongoing anxiety and depression. Researchers believe that abnormal levels of serotonin and other neurotransmitters, chemical messengers in the brain, are some of the primary causes of mood disorders such as depression.

Depression is associated with many chronic illnesses. When they are in pain, patients become ever more focused on their inability to exercise and be active, and on their personal suffering. The many appointments with physicians to try to find relief, combined with the cost of these attempts, and episodes of painful flare-ups, add to this frustration.

A stressful event or ongoing pressures of everyday living can cause depression or anxiety disorders in some people, requiring treatment. Chronic stress is connected with higher rates of depression and anxiety. A review of multiple studies found that people who had stress related to their jobs had an 80% higher risk of developing depression within a few years, compared to people with lower stress. Sometimes, a stressful event or ongoing pressure at work or in one’s personal life can develop into chronic depression and anxiety. Before the condition gets serious, it’s important to seek medical help to assess what’s going on and what can be done, such as counseling, medication or other treatments.
Donna Hill Howes, RN
Family Practitioner

Sometimes, depression can be triggered by stressful situations such as the death of a loved one, being in a difficult relationship, or working a high-pressure job. Talk to your doctor or mental health provider about ways to treat your depression.

Continue Learning about Depression Causes & Risks

Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.