A Loved One’s Depression Can Affect You Too

Ever heard of Stress Contagion?
Stress is contagious. When you are around other people who have stressful experiences or are depressed, their stress/depression affects you physiologically too. We feel what the other person is feeling because of empathy. A healthy balance is needed between being there and moving away when you start to feel depressed or helpless yourself. Be aware that stress is contagious. If you are supporting someone needing help, remember that you may need self-care and protection too.

Be aware that stress is contagious. In one study of mothers and infants, findings demonstrate that infants “catch” their mothers’ physiological stress entirely through interactions with their mothers, without exposure to the stressor itself. Among adults, too, worry and anxiety have been observed to “spread”.

Watch Dr Kim Schonert-Reichl describe this phenomenon called the “stress contagion”
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KkSrFSDBdZ0&ab_channel=DalaiLamaCenterforPeaceandEducation

Know the Signs
The more you are aware of both the physical and emotional signs of stress in yourself, the more quickly you can intervene. Stress can manifest in different ways. If any of the following show up, you might want to take a closer look:

• Problems sleeping (this may indicate worry)
• Changes in behaviour
• Very strong emotional outbursts
• Difficulty with learning and memory
• Hyperactive behaviours
• Frequent colds and flu (this may be a sign of a low immune system)
• Changes in hunger, appetite and digestion
• Muscle tension and headaches

Strategies you can use to DESTRESS
1. Understand your stress triggers
• Use Mindfulness/ Meditation- real structural changes in the brain happens- grey matters increases, hippocampus ( learning and memory) increases, amygdala ( fear centre)shrinks
• Therapy- find a professional to help you

2. Self-care
• Positive Touch and Massage
• Meditate
• Get Adequate Sleep

3. Harness the Power of Others
• Gather a circle of support – Being part of a Community ( to combat loneliness you might be feeling on this journey with your loved one)
• Connect with animals
• Plan activities in advance

4. Release it
• Breath
• Be active – physical movement and play helps to release the extra energy caused by stressful situations
• Listen to or make music
• Laugh!

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