Stress is generally a condition of burden. In case of acute stress, our body alarms and releases more and more of the so-called stress hormones epinephrine, norepinephrine and cortisol. As a result, energy reserves are released, pulse rate and blood pressure rise, the muscle tension increases, overall, the performance increases.
This healthy reaction is also called positive stress (Eustress). If the released energy is used, the stress hormones are also broken down and the hormone system regulates itself. Otherwise, it comes to negative stress (distress), which can lead to increased tension and chronic stress.
The list of symptoms that can occur due to prolonged stress is long. Typical are cardiovascular problems, sleep disorders, loss of appetite, digestive problems, decreased libido, head and back pain, anxiety, lack of drive and discouragement. All symptoms that are also seen in depression. But not only the symptoms are similar. The relationship between stress and depression becomes clear when looking at the neurobiological processes in the brain.
In both stress states, a persistently high concentration of stress hormones plays a role. How the interaction between stress and depression runs exactly, is so far not well known. It has been proven that long-term stress can contribute to the development of depression (stress depression). But conversely, there is evidence that people with depression are much more likely to get stressed because their control system for stress hormones is disturbed.
If a stress depression has developed from the constant stress or if this suspicion exists, it is absolutely essential to have a medical examination so that therapy can be initiated at an early stage. While “normal” stress can often be relieved by relaxation training or even physical activity, stress depression must be treated with medication and psychotherapy.
Depression Versus Burn-Out
In public discussion, the terms burn-out and stress depression are often mixed and not delimited. Burn-out refers to overburdened working life that leads to a “burned out” and ultimately leads to emotional exhaustion, frustration and performance degradation.
However, feelings of exhaustion and other health problems associated with burnout are not synonymous with a mental illness such as depression. However, burnout can increase the risk of developing various diseases. These include physical disorders such as high blood pressure, tinnitus, chronic head and back pain and sleep disorders, anxiety and depression.