Stress is a state of mind

Learning how to manage stress-induced depression

When I think of depression I always imagine a small valve being turned ever so slightly in the back of your mind, releasing toxins that in turn affect your thinking process.

As someone who has to deal with stress-induced depression on a regular basis, there are a variety of different triggers that can change one’s mindset — regardless of how happy someone can be.

Imagine yourself hustling to complete an assignment that’s due the next morning. As the night goes on you become less concerned about quality and more concerned about not losing five per cent off your total mark.

In the middle of finishing an idea that could put the assignment away, the realization of everything else that you need to do hits you like a brick wall.

Suddenly you can’t seem to focus. Everything seems rushed and an overwhelming feeling rises from your chest and envelops your entire body.

Your mind starts spinning and you are forced to step away from whatever you are doing.

That, or you suddenly feel trapped because you know there’s no escaping the daunting pile of work in front of you, and the stress just gets worse. Nothing matters.

First off, I think it’s important to distinguish between depression that is triggered by life events — known as stress-induced depression that can eventually disappear — versus chronic depression that stays with you all the time, capsizing most of life’s hopes.

I find myself going through depression “cycles” in which my moods can flip from one end to the other without much warning or time in between.

It’s like a flip of the switch – one moment I’m fine, but as soon as I hit a trigger the valve opens up.

But then something happens that negates the trigger and everything feels fine again.

These cycles can vary in length and time, but still lead to crippling nonetheless. This can also apply to stress-induced depression.

Being busy has a way of forcing people into these stress-induced mind frames.

In a generation like ours, everyone is going a mile a minute in their lives while not giving themselves a chance to breathe. University life sees this constantly — students are forced to juggle part-time jobs, schoolwork, socialization and sleep, struggling to maintain routines and schedules.

Buried by mountains of books and assignments, still adjusting to becoming an adult, university life can be unbearably overwhelming, causing a façade of hopelessness.

Now, as the middle of the term nears, it is so easy to lose control of ourselves caught up in the whirlwind. This is when stress can take a turn for the worst.   

Your brain starts telling you things that aren’t true, things you know to be mental lies — but at the same time it catches you at such a vulnerable time that you struggle to push it away.

So you start to believe it.

Soon enough, nothing gets done. You find yourself crippled to a point where all you want to do is lie in bed and forget about the world for a little while, despite the increasing responsibilities.

Stress-induced depression and anxiety are real issues felt by real people, and the longer they are left to copulate, the harder they are to dismiss.

Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.

Thankfully, with managing stress, there are strategies you can employ in order to save yourself.

Plan ahead. Jot down all your deadlines and manage your time effectively by refusing to wait until last minute. Stay organized. Take time for yourself and unwind with your favourite song.

Plan a day for absolutely nothing — or focus on making a day filled with all of your favourite things.

Self-care is just as important as getting good grades and succeeding in post-secondary education.

Just because everything around you is going a mile a minute doesn’t mean you have to.

It’s easy to lose yourself when everything becomes a blur, but as long as you move at a regular pace you should be able to keep up. This type of depression can be controlled as such.

It’s only when it is left to grow, along with other mental health issues, that it becomes draining. It is important to take care of yourself in what is arguably the best four years of your life.

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