Many people suffering from depression symptoms report that stressful events triggered their depression. Stress, anxiety and depression often occur together. How a person responds to stress affects whether or not a stressor will trigger depression.

Stress and Depression

Stress is a normal reaction to the challenges of life. Everyone experiences stress. However, not everyone manages stress in the same way. People who have difficulty dealing with life’s challenges can experience mood changes, relationship problems, irritability, decreased productivity and stress/anxiety. Depression can develop if these symptoms are left unchecked.

Stress is a very individual response. A stressor that triggers depression in one person may not be considered stressful by another person. Also, remember that positive changes also cause stress: The challenges of a job promotion, a marriage or a new child all can cause stress, even though these are usually considered positive events.

Any stressful event can trigger depression symptoms, but some events increase the risk of depression more than others. Such stressors include:

  • Abusive relationships
  • Death of a loved one
  • Divorce/relationship problems
  • Financial problems
  • Homelessness
  • Job loss
  • Moving to a new city
  • Severe trauma (such as rape, combat experience or witnessing a murder)
  • Social isolation.

Stress and Recurring Depression Symptoms

A person suffering from depression is likely to have additional depressive episodes in the future. While stress is a common trigger for a first or second depressive episode, it plays a lesser role from the third depressive episode onwards. After the second depressive episode, depression seems to develop spontaneously, as if the brain has become accustomed to depression symptoms as a response to even minor stressors.

Stress, Anxiety, Depression: A Biological Connection?

Canadian researchers have discovered a biological mechanism linking stress, anxiety and depression. The results of their findings were published in the April 2010 issue of Nature Neuroscience.

This biological link involves a substance called corticotropin releasing factor receptor-1 (CRFR1) that increases the amount of serotonin receptors on brain cell membranes, resulting in brain signaling abnormalities. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter, a chemical necessary for proper communication between brain cells. Imbalances in serotonin levels are linked to anxiety and depression.

The Canadian researchers discovered a molecule that inhibits the pathway of the serotonin receptors in mice. This discovery could lead to new treatments for depression that break the link between stress, anxiety and depression.

Stress Management and Depression

Stress can sometimes lead to depression. Whether or not depression occurs depends largely on an individualÕs response to stressors. Learning stress management skills such as relaxation techniques and time management skills can prevent depression. If depression symptoms continue in spite of stress management, talk to a doctor about your symptoms.


Hall-Flavin, D. (2010). Can chronic stress cause depression? Retrieved May 3, 2010, from the Mayo Clinic website:

Mayo Clinic Staff. (2009). Adjustment disorders. Retrieved May 3, 2010, from the Mayo Clinic Web site:

Nauert, R. (2010). Link between stress, anxiety, depression. Retrieved May 3, 2010, from the Psych Central website:

Nemade, R., Reiss, N., Dombeck, M. (2007). Social and relational factors in major depression. Retrieved May 3, 2010, from the Mental Health Web site:

 Posted on : June 26, 2014