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Depression Triggers & How To Overcome Them

Depression is a mental disorder that is quite common. In fact, there are over 264 million people around the world suffering from depression. The condition doesn’t discriminate. Young and old alike find themselves feeling the effects of depression.

Depression isn’t always caused by one’s surroundings. People can experience depression even when everything is good in their life. Depression is the result of structural, physiological and biochemical changes in the brain that can be caused by several things, including:

  • Malfunction of the brain’s mood regulation mechanism
  • Physical health issues
  • Genetics
  • Stress
  • Side effects of medication
  • Numerous triggers

Depression Triggers

Depression triggers can be stressful situations or negative events that occur in life. A trigger can also be a reoccurrence of a past episode of depression. Knowing what can trigger depression allows you to identify and be aware of depression in yourself or a loved one.


Bereavement refers to grief and loss. It is one of the main triggers for depression. When depression comes from bereavement, it is hard to recognize as a serious issue because it can appear to be a normal reaction to loss.

Everyone experiences grief differently. This adds to the confusion. One’s age, personality, life experiences and state of mind, along with the event causing the loss, can affect how one grieves.

Grief can take physical and mental forms. It may cause you to feel depressed, have anxiety or experience anger. Grief can also bring on high blood pressure, increased stress hormone levels, disruptive sleep and changes to your immune system. Grief can even lead to substance use.

When the painful emotions of grief are long-lasting and severe, it is referred to as complicated grief. Complicated grief is hard to recover from and keeps you from resuming a normal life. The problems associated with complicated grief become more problematic when paired with rumination. This is when a person keeps reliving negative thoughts.

When someone you love is grieving, it can be hard to tell when he or she has crossed the line into depression. If someone is having trouble with grief, they should discuss their with a physician to keep from slipping into depression.


It is natural to crave acceptance, affirmation and approval from others. Most of us find rejection or exclusion to be stressful, especially if we have low self-esteem to begin with. Rejection sensitivity (RS) refers to how sensitive an individual is to rejection. Its severity depends on genetics and prior life experiences. Those with a high RS can have a particularly hard time with any form of rejection.

Those with a high RS will notice the smallest forms of rejection and are more sensitive when it comes to social cues. Any perceived rejection can cause anxiety. For those that consistently feel rejected, it can lead to depression and a withdrawal from society.

Even if you don’t have a high RS, you can feel sad after being rejected, especially if you were trying hard to get a person’s approval. Anger and aggression are common reactions to this. When the rejection comes from a love interest, it can be particularly painful.

Those with depression can have a high RS. This is because depression leaves a person with lower self-esteem. The symptoms of depression include a lack of energy, a depressed mood, a loss of interest and social isolation. Unfortunately, these symptoms make a person more likely to be rejected. It turns into a vicious cycle in which depression leads to rejection, which causes depression.


Stress causes physical effects on the brain and body. Stress is one of the major causes of depression; it creates hormonal changes often found in those that experience depression. The pituitary, hypothalamus and adrenal glands are all affected. They won’t regulate mood and emotion in their normal manner.

When experiencing stress, your body releases a stress hormone called cortisol. This hormone causes physical changes to the brain cells. Stress can also change the size of the hippocampus, which is the section of the brain that is smaller in depressed people.

Stress affects your immune system too. It can activate the release of cytokines. These immune system chemicals are linked with depression. Cytokines are active within the brain tissue, including the hippocampus.


As much as 10 percent to 15 percent of depression cases are linked to an illness. It can be quite traumatic to receive a diagnosis of an illness, such as multiple sclerosis, HIV or cancer. The illness itself could cause symptoms of depression. Many illnesses, such as Parkinson’s disease, heart attack and erectile dysfunction, are known to be associated with depression.

The relationship between a serious illness and depression is unfortunate. Many of these illnesses and their treatments will bring on depression. Sadly, depression can slow the recovery process, and it can create a higher risk of death. When it comes to terminal illness or chronic disease, depression will intensify the suffering.

Lack of Sleep

When depressed, a person can experience either more or less sleep. These sleep issues are one of the main reasons people with depression seek help.

Ironically, a lack of sleep can trigger depression. Those with insomnia are much more likely to develop depression than those who get a normal amount of sleep. This is another trigger that creates a vicious cycle that is hard to break. You can’t sleep, and you become depressed. The depression then keeps you from getting the sleep you need.

Correcting sleep issues can be an effective way to prevent depression. Treating the depression helps you avoid relapse.


As mentioned earlier, grief that is out of control is known as rumination. Individuals experiencing rumination will dwell on the grief instead of dealing with it in a healthy manner. Their grief and feelings of pain become an obsession. It can interfere with leading a normal life.

Those with rumination are stuck in their thoughts. They question why this has happened to them. While caught up in self-pity, they tend to exaggerate the negative. They can also become angry with those around them who seem to be handling their grief better than they are.

Rumination triggers depression, and it prolongs any existing depression. It is also a risk factor for suicide. Grief is a normal experience, but not everyone can handle it properly. This holds especially true for people experiencing grief for the first time. The reality of grief may not be what they had expected.

Simply enough, hope is the perfect remedy for rumination. Hope is confidence and the motivation for success. Those with high levels of hope handle grief better and focus on continuing with life. Those experiencing rumination can seek counseling in order to find hope.

Financial Problems

Many problems can bring on depression in many ways. A study that involved 35,000 people in the United States observed the effect of money on mental health. It found that a low household income increases the risk of many mental health disorders. This includes depression.

Financial difficulties and stress related to money are associated with depression. Depression worsens as financial difficulties increase. Those who experience things like financial loss or a drop in pay need to seek help in dealing with these changes in order to avoid depression.

Life Changes

Even a positive change in life can harm one’s mental health. People naturally enjoy things that are reliable and dependable. Change of any kind can take one out of his or her comfort zone and cause stress.

When the life changes are negative, it causes an even greater shock with an increased possibility of depression developing. Adjustment disorder is a type of depression that develops after a life-changing event.

It is best to be prepared for the stress that any type of change in life can create. Those having trouble should seek counseling and keep an eye out for symptoms of depression.

Substance Use

Depression and substance use are closely related. The mental and physical changes experienced with each one are quite similar. In addition to overlapping symptoms, they share several risk factors, and they can trigger each other.

Many people resort to using drugs or alcohol to self-medicate when faced with mental health symptoms such as depression. Often, these individuals have lived with their mental health disorder for so long that they think it is normal. They are not aware that there are treatment programs that can help.

Comorbidity is when depression and substance use happen at the same time. When this occurs, it is important to treat both issues together. Treating depression is difficult when substance use is involved. It is also very hard to overcome a substance use disorder when one is depressed.

Finding Treatment

When a mental health disorder, such as depression, is present alongside a substance use disorder, it is important to find the necessary treatment. Granite Recovery Centers can help when you or a loved one find yourselves facing these types of issues with a comprehensive mental health program.

A mental health disorder can impact your psychological, emotional and behavioral well-being. These disorders affect your mood and how you think, act and handle stress. This can completely alter your life.

The proper treatment can help you manage your mental health disorder so that you can enjoy a healthy and happy life. Our treatment philosophy uses many tools to help you find the best recovery plan for your individual needs.

Our treatments are available at three different levels that include residential and inpatient programs as well as dual diagnosis, which can be beneficial in situations where depression and a substance use disorder go hand in hand. All levels use an abstinence-based program that includes a 12-step program along with peer-to-peer workshops, cognitive-behavioral therapies and holistic practices like meditation and mindfulness. By focusing on feeling your body, mind and spirit, we can guide you towards lifelong recovery.

In Conclusion

One of the most important ways to manage depression is to recognize the triggers. Being able to notice these triggers in yourself or a loved one allows you to seek treatment sooner rather than later. Even if the trigger is something you can’t change, like a chronic illness or a financial difficulty, you can find the help you need that will ease the stress that can lead to depression.

Professional help is necessary for the treatment of depression, especially when a substance use disorder is involved. The proper treatment programs, such as those offered by Granite Recovery Centers, can improve the quality of your life and set you on the road to recovery.