Muriel Cooper
Psychologist in Mornington

Stress, anxiety and depression


Stress, anxiety and depression

Articles about the Stress - Anxiety - Depression cycle, and how to avoid and cope with these problems.

Bored young manWhy is boredom so stressful?

It 'messes with your head'

These two states present different kinds of ways boredom is stressful.

  1. Boredom allows your stress brain free reign to invade your head with worries and fears – boredom and depression go hand in hand – I call this 'agitated boredom'
  2. Or it does the opposite and you feel 'brain dead' with no motivation to even think about your goals let alone set them – I call this 'listless boredom'

For example having no action and distraction – that is nothing to focus your attention on to – presents great opportunities for the limbic brain to nag you about worries, negative thoughts, and things you're procrastinating about or should be doing – and in this case the reaction is one of being nervous, twitchy, restless, anxious – i.e. stressed/anxious.

Alternatively, having nothing to focus your attention on to can induce almost a 'fugue' state when the brain, again having nothing to focus its attention on, goes into 'idle' mode – just ticking over – aimless and listless.

Either of these states could be associated with anxiety or depression. Boredom is not trivial.

Stressed girl

Stress is the first defence mechanism the human race ever had (sorry creation theorists, we’ll have to agree to disagree).

Once upon a time when the world was young and humans were Arboreal Fructivores (tree dwelling fruit eaters), the world was paradise.  We had virtually no natural enemies, plenty to eat, and all was well with the world.  Until climate change (remind you of anything?).

The forests and jungles shrunk and were replaced by grassy plains that eventually became deserts, there was overcrowding, something had to give.  So Evolution / God / Mother Nature, whatever you want to call it, was forced to make a choice.  Some species stayed in the trees (our primate relatives the chimpanzee and so on), and some took their luck on the ground.

StressedTHE S.A.D. cycle starts with Stress – if you don’t deal with stress it gets worse and becomes Anxiety – if you don’t deal with Anxiety it becomes Depression.

S. + A. = D.

You too can embrace the S.A.D. cycle – all it takes is staying in stressful, unhappy situations and not doing anything about it – that’s all it takes.

For example, you’re unhappy with your job; your boss is on your back, you don’t like your workmates and the work is boring. You constantly think about your awful dead-end job and this makes you feel really uptight.

So far, so good, you’re stressed.

StressedThe S.A.D. syndrome is about how the Stress of everyday life can escalate into Anxiety and eventually lead to Depression, the epidemic of the 21st century.

S.A.D. starts with stress, the ‘big news’ of the eighties that many seem to take for granted now.

The emphasis now is on depression (which is not a bad thing) but what we tend to see is a society in denial of where depression starts – with stress.

Why? Because it’s O.K. to have depression – that’s a disease.  Stress is just “the way it is”.