Stress, Depression & Me

Since coming out yesterday as being on Prozac, I thought it might be good to answer a few questions that were in the comments. Before I go there, I’d like to thank you all for your support and encouragement. I’m not sure I’d be doing as well without this site and without amazing readers. Thanks so much, it means the world to me.

Another thing you should know is that I’m seeing a therapist again and it’s going well. Talk therapy is really a good part of getting better.

I’d like to mention that yesterdays post is supposed to be funny. As such, there are a lot of other things going on that I’m not going to write about publicly. It is those non-public things that are larger contributors to my state. And specifically, my response to those non-public things.

The first was along the lines of: “So you have stress. Big deal. Everybody has stress. You are saying that stress lead to depression? Give me a break.”

I’ve done a ton of reading over the years about this both for myself and to help me understand the best I can what Heather goes through.

I’d suggest the Mayo Clinic as a great place to start:
Chronic stress: Can it cause depression? –

There are a ton of links off that page to all kinds of self assessment pages.

I’d also suggest this page, which I found through a search awhile ago:
Do You Love Someone Who Suffers From Depression?

You may not agree with everything that is said, but the part that most resonated with me:

“Sometimes the spouse of a depressed partner becomes depressed as a result of living within a “depressed lifestyle” for too long. Depression is said to be contagious and can become a shroud over the spouse or family. It’s also vital to consider that depression may not only be genetic, but it can also be taught. You heard me right. For instance, our children’s most powerful classroom is the home. Both “Nature and Nurture” contribute to depression.”

The second most common thread seemed to be a kind of “how do you get from stresses of living to depression?”

As I said above, it is in my response to situations. The other thing that I think is going on is that the continued level of stress is high and I’ve been unable to fully relax and destress. There is interesting research around stress and serotonin.

Behavior: The Neurobiology of Depression (Look down the page a bit for the subheading “Stress and Serotonin”.)

Of note:

We are not saying that stress “causes” depression in people. Rather, stress is very likely interacting with an inborn genetic predisposition, such that, in some vulnerable individuals, a stressor can precipitate a mood disorder (i.e., vulnerability + stress = depression).

“This suggests that a chronic or severe stress (e.g., loss of a spouse, serious illness or injury, history of abuse) may cause similar neurochemical changes in vulnerable people, therefore triggering episodes of depression.”

Which leads to my final response around the question that stress is causing a physical manifestation of illness, i.e., “mystery illnesses”. I believe this is the case. I believe that I’ve had this happen in the past, where I’ve been down for more than a few days and it always is due to major stresses and changes in my life. It has gotten much worse as I’ve gotten older and the stakes have gotten higher. I believe that in the summer of 2006, the lawsuit and the cost for us financially caused my two week mystery illness.

I’m doing this to help myself. If this seems maudlin or overwrought, please forgive.

If you have other questions, please feel free to ask in the comments. I’ll probably do posts answering the most common threads.