February 26, 2024

Can Stress Cause Depression?

In certain cases of depression, the disorder develops as a result of traumatic events or stressful activities, incidents or issues in a person’s life.  For example, individuals who recently underwent the death of a loved one, job loss or relocation will often become depressed as a result.  Ongoing stress in a person’s life can also lead to someone developing depression.  For example, relationship issues or financial worries can create stress from which depression can develop.

Factors in the Development of Depression

For individuals who have no genetic disposition toward depression, the disorder is generally a result of stressful factors in their life.  If they have continuous issues in the workplace or a bad relationship, the stress can actually cause them to become depressed.

If someone does not already have a family history of depression, doctors believe that the disorder is caused by reduced dopamine or serotonin levels in the brain.  These two chemicals are often considered the ‘happy’ or ‘reward’ chemicals of the brain.  If the person is in a stressful environment, they will stop receiving these happy chemicals and begin to feel under the weather.  When the situation occurs for an extended period of time, the patient may develop depression.


In these cases, depression occurs as a result of stress in the individual’s life.  Doctors have found that treating these patients with Cognitive Behavior Therapy is extremely effective.  This form of therapy looks to treat the underlying causes of depression.  Patients may be taking a negative outlook on life or viewing events with a bad perspective.  During their therapy, the patient will learn how to cast life events in a new light and develop a positive attitude.

Other patients develop depression because of ongoing events in their life.  If they have continued issues in the workplace, a therapist may recommend that they choose another job or career field.  When stress arises as a result of a harmful relationship in their life, the patient will often be urged to end the relationship or seek therapy for both individuals.

The Loss of a Loved One

Out of all stressful events, the loss of a loved one takes a heavy toll on the individual.  Although patients cannot change what has happened, they can learn how to cope.  Group therapy or grief support groups are positive ways to get help in a supportive environment.

Depression can be caused by stressful events.  In individuals with no predisposition toward depression, stress and traumatic life events are often the root cause of their depression.  Seeking medical treatment and changing lifestyle factors are the key ways that these individuals can lessen their symptoms and return to normal life.


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