April is Stress Awareness Month, and while experiencing some stress can be good for you, chronic stress may lead to major depression in susceptible people. Stress – whether chronic, like financial or work-related, or acute, such as losing a job or loved one – can be triggers for major depression.
The link between stress and depression is complex and circular. Stress has direct effects on mood. Similarly, being ‘stressed out’ often leads to self-destructive behaviors like smoking, drinking, and self-neglect like not exercising or eating well. This in turn can lead to chronic stress and increase the risk of major depression.
The key to minimizing stress is to first become aware of it. Depression is more serious and long-lasting than stress, and requires a different kind of help.
Here are common signs of stress and depression:
Mild stress keeps you alert, motivated, and primed to respond to danger. But sustained or chronic stress leads to elevated hormones such as cortisol the “stress hormone,” and reduced serotonin and other neurotransmitters in the brain, including dopamine, which has been linked to depression. When the stress response fails to shut off and reset after a difficult situation, this often leads to depression.
The good news is that depression is highly treatable. Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation Therapy (TMS) is a highly effective, FDA approved treatment for depression. TMS uses magnetic pulses to stimulate nerve cells in small, underactive regions of the brain that are thought to control mood in order to relieve symptoms of depression.
TMS therapy is noninvasive and does not use medication so patients don’t suffer the side effects that often accompany antidepressant medication, such as nausea, weight gain or memory loss. The risk to TMS therapy is no greater than what has been observed with oral antidepressant medications. See more about potential risks on our FAQ page.