The reality of depressive disorder is that it affects every single aspect of life, including the patient’s energy levels, emotional state, relationships, and physical well-being. Depression can happen even if nothing is “wrong,” which creates confusion and hopelessness when navigating this challenging mental health condition.
Psychologists use the term “trigger” to explain how certain conditions and situations can bring about the symptoms of depression. A depression trigger isn’t necessarily the root cause of the person’s mental illness, but it’s still likely to create the conditions for a potential relapse.
Triggers vary from person to person but can include specific life events, general stress, or biochemical changes in the brain. One of the most empowering steps mood disorder patients can take is learning to assess their mental health and spot the signs of a potential episode. This knowledge is crucial to help them understand their symptoms, seek treatment, and get better more quickly.
What are Some Common Depression Triggers?
Many depression triggers are recurrent, which is why it’s so important to become aware of them and develop effective coping strategies. People who are at higher risk of depression may be more sensitive to depression triggers.
Some of the most common triggers include:
Change is often very hard, whether it’s starting a new job, moving to a new city, or a significant life transition like going through a divorce. For a person prone to depression, the experience of dealing with uncertainty and changes in their everyday routine will often take a serious toll on their mental health.
Similarly, a traumatic event can also prompt change that triggers depression. People who have recently experienced or remembered trauma may be more likely to fall into depression.
The challenges at work, school, or home are very common triggers for depression. Stress is a psychological phenomenon that also has very real physical consequences. For example, stress causes an increase in cortisol, a hormone that can affect the brain and potentially trigger a depressive episode.
Certain genetic factors may increase your risk of developing depression or seasonal depression. For example, if you have close family members with a history of depression, you may be more likely to experience it yourself. Similarly, if you have a family history of substance use disorder or another mental health condition such as bipolar disorder or schizophrenia, this may also put you at greater risk for developing depression.
Neurotransmitter imbalances in the brain can also trigger depressive episodes and negative emotions in some people. Neurotransmitters are chemicals responsible for communicating information between nerve cells and play an important role in regulating mood and behavior. Imbalances in neurotransmitters such as serotonin, dopamine, or norepinephrine can contribute to symptoms associated with depression, such as changes in sleep patterns and appetite.
People turn to drugs and alcohol to lift their spirits and numb difficult emotions without realizing that these short-term effects can harm their mental health in the long run. For example, alcohol is a powerful depressant that can intensify feelings of sadness and loneliness. The strong connection between depression and substance abuse goes both ways– people with depression are more likely to abuse drugs and alcohol. In contrast, people with substance use disorders are more prone to becoming depressed.
Changes in Sleeping Habits
Sleep serves an essential restorative function for the body. The potential ripple effects of not getting enough sleep can be physical and emotional, including fatigue, irritability, and difficulty regulating emotions, making the patient more vulnerable to depression. On the other hand, the onset of hypersomnia, or excessive sleep, is also closely linked with the beginning of a depression episode.
The stress and worry from losing a job, facing a major unexpected expense, or not having enough income to meet financial obligations are known as very common triggers for depression. Money problems and financial stress can also cause a vicious cycle where financial pressure leads to a depressive episode. As a result, the wide-ranging effects of being depressed cause financial issues to worsen.
Coping Skills To Help Deal With Depression Triggers
Many depression triggers are related to issues far outside the patient’s control, such as illness, losing a job, or going through another stressful life event. However, what is possible is reducing the adverse emotional effects of these difficult experiences by developing good coping skills. When patients and their loved ones learn to recognize specific patterns in the triggers that can worsen their depression, it becomes easier to manage the disease more effectively. Some of the steps patients can take to gain control and improve their mental health include:
Get Professional Help
Working closely with a mental health professional is vital for managing depression triggers, especially when the patient is dealing with a major disruption to their life, such as grief or chronic stress. If there’s already a treatment plan in place, the therapist may want to make adjustments to provide the patient with more support, such as talk therapy or behavioral health therapy.
Practice Self-Care and Stress Management
Positive habits can do a world of good to help patients cope with depression triggers and reduce the chances of a serious depressive episode. Self-care is not necessarily about making a drastic lifestyle change but taking small daily steps to boost mental health.
Some examples are:
- Incorporate some form of regular exercise, which stimulate the production of “feel good” endorphins that can help combat depression
- Use meditation and breathing exercises to clear the mind, lower stress, and get unstuck from negative thought patterns
- Invest time in enjoyable hobbies, whether it’s learning a new language, spending time outdoors, or volunteering in the community
- Use journaling to process strong emotions, track mood changes, and generally stay aware of any depression symptoms
- Utilize a treatment center to get help with clinical depression or if depressive symptoms are too much to handle
Lean on Friends and Family
Depression is incredibly lonely and isolating, contributing to the patient’s deteriorating mental health. One of the best ways to cope with depression triggers is to stay connected with a support system. Studies show that social contact and a sense of belonging can make a profound difference in improving the symptoms of depression. Patients will benefit from reaching out to loved ones, talking about their feelings, and joining in social activities that help them feel part of a community.
Seek out TMS Therapy
Transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) is an effective, non-invasive treatment for depression covered by most major health insurance companies. The therapy targets areas of the brain affected by depression and stimulates them using magnetic pulses.
It can be considered a way of “waking up” these pathways to help them better regulate the patient’s moods. The result is lasting relief from the symptoms of depression, with very few side effects. Patients facing depression triggers can use maintenance sessions of TMS therapy as a reliable resource to help them cope with depression triggers and avoid potential relapse.
People do not have to live with depression. Even people who experience treatment-resistant depression can find relief through TMS therapy.
Learn More About Depression Triggers and How To Handle Them With Brain Therapy TMS
When depressive symptoms are not addressed, the patient’s mental health and overall quality of life can be severely affected. People with chronic depression have difficulty navigating the daily challenges of work, school, and family responsibilities, which can severely limit their potential. Effective treatment can prevent this unnecessary suffering and support better mental health in the long term.
As one of the leaders in providing transcranial magnetic stimulation therapy in San Diego, Brain Therapy TMS has seen remarkable results for patients struggling with depression. This scientifically-proven treatment requires no medication or anesthesia while still delivering significant improvements in the patient’s mood, energy levels, and overall well-being.