The relationship between Stress and Depression

The relationship between Stress and Depression

Stress is any stimulus, whether intrinsic or extrinsic, that brings about a response that is biological. The compensatory mechanism to this stresses is called stress response. Based on the severity and duration of stress, it can exert various effects on the normal functioning of the body. When stress is prolonged, it becomes an aggravating or a triggering factor for multiple diseases and pathological conditions including depression (Wada et al., 2013). The body reacts to the body by releasing stress hormones which include norepinephrine and glucocorticoids together with pro-inflammatory cytokines to include interleukin (IL)-IB, il-6 and tumor necrosis factor. These hormones are implicated in the pathogenesis of depression, and that is how a person with prolonged stress is a likelihood of developing depression (Gutman & Nemeroff, 2011).

Factors of Stress response that Influence the development of Depression

Acute stress is excellent as the bodily changes that happen during these moments can be beneficial. However, when the stress moments are prolonged, too many stress hormones are produced that affect the health of an individual. One way in which the health of an individual is affected is the development of depression which impairs an individual’s functioning in many domains to include workplace, home life, family and self-care. One stress factor that influences the development of depression is the release of pro-inflammatory cytokines, which are involved in the development of depression (Yaribeygi et al., 2017). The second factor is that stress interferes with normal activities of life which makes one become less productive. When one does not meet their daily objectives and social functioning, they become more stressed, leading to more production of pro-inflammatory mediators, therefore predisposing one to the development of depression.

Influence of Depression on the Immune and Inflammatory response systems

Repeated stress leads to depression which induces neuroinflammation. Depression makes the body to respond by producing stress hormones and mediators of inflammation which ensures homeostasis. However, with time, the inflammatory response systems become overwhelmed due to excessive production of stress hormones (Jaremka, Lindgren & Kiecolt-Glaser, 2014). Besides, the immune system becomes suppressed, which predisposes an individual to infections and chronic illnesses such as diabetes, rheumatic arthritis, cancers, and other autoimmune diseases.




Gutman, D. A., & Nemeroff, C. B. (2011). Stress and depression. In R. J. Contrada & A. Baum          (Eds.). The handbook of stress science: Biology, psychology, and health (pp. 345–          357)New York, NY: Springer Publishing Company.

Jaremka L. M., Lindgren M. E., & Kiecolt-Glaser J. K., (2014). Synergistic Relationships among Stress, Depression, and Troubled Relationships: Insights from Psychoneuroimmunology.      Depress Anxiety — author manuscript; available in PMC 2014 Apr 1.

Published in final edited form as Depress Anxiety. 2013 Apr; 30(4): 10.1002/da.22078.

Wada K. et al., (2013). Relationship between the Onset of Depression and Stress Response         Measured by the Brief Job Stress Questionnaire among Japanese Employees: A Cohort Study. PLoS One. 2013; 8(2): e56319. Published online 2013 Feb      12. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0056319

Yaribeygi H. et al., (2017). The impact of stress on body function: A review. EXCLI J. 2017; 16:     1057–1072. Published online 2017 Jul 21. doi: 10.17179/excli2017-480