Everyone undergoes stressful situations at some point in their lives. Many people quickly recover and move on, while others tend to experience deep emotional and physical reactions that linger for months or years.
The worst life experiences are those involving deaths in the family, illness and other significant life changes. Depression is one common reaction.
For people with inherent depressive tendencies, however, this can be catastrophic. Their lives seem increasingly hopeless as recovery moves out of reach. Sometimes, the depression is so profound that medical intervention is necessary. In other cases, emotional support from friends and family is enough to break the depression and bring positive solutions to light.
In some cases, the stress of dealing with these situations magnifies and invisible physical changes result, some of them life threatening. Researchers have learned that stress is a risk factor for heart disease and cancer.
Stress hormones increase blood pressure and fatty acids in the bloodstream that eventually block the arteries. The restriction causes the heart to work harder and heart disease is the result.
Sustained stress also depresses the immune system through hormonal changes, leaving the body more susceptible to infectious diseases. It's not uncommon for people under stress to complain of frequent colds and other conditions. In its weakened condition, the body also is less capable of fighting off cancer cells, putting the person at risk of developing the disease.
The full effect of stress on the body is not entirely known, but researchers agree that stress can be detrimental to the body and trigger any number of diseases.
Of course, stress also has a profound effect on our mental and emotional states as well. Apart from causing depression, it can have a significant impact on our overall level of confidence and self worth. Anxiety and phobias can result.
Some people develop irrational fears of things like going into public places, eating in a restaurant, attending classes, or driving a vehicle. It's easy to see how low self esteem can play a major role in depression and anxiety.
Divorce is a prime example of a situation that can lower a person's confidence. Learning that your whole life is about to change and will not develop as you intended can be a tremendous blow to your self esteem.
Even if you initiated the divorce, it's only natural for you to question your role in the relationship, your decision to end it, and to wonder about your future. Doubts can lead to worries and anxiety about the unknown.
Battling through stressful events can be difficult, but researchers have determined two coping mechanisms that work quite effectively.
To prevent stress from turning into anxiety and depression, you can decide to react emotionally or by problem solving. While problem solving is the best and most effective choice, sometimes people need to utilize both methods.
Responding emotionally, you might seek ways to escape, like watching television for hours on end or find another distraction. This method allows you to avoid the emotional disturbance until you are more emotionally secure to handle the situation.
That's when the second choice would be utilized. Use your problem solving skills. Instead of focusing on your emotions, look for solutions that will minimize how severe the event will affect you.
If you are at risk of losing your home, a job, or your husband, look for solutions rather than becoming emotionally upset. You might seek alternative sources of income, seek family mediation, or start preparing for the inevitable and look forward to something better.
Some people might benefit most by applying all avenues of escapism. Then, when the shock of the immediate crisis begins to fade, they are better able to find more positive and productive solutions.
Emotion-focused coping is only a short-term approach that allows you to reduce stress and collect yourself before moving on. At some point, however, you will need to take a realistic look at your situation and develop a plan of action.