Why do stressors sometimes lead to depressive symptoms?
Sometimes stressors, such as deadlines at work and screaming children, leave people feeling and behaving depressed. Researchers from the University of Texas at Austin and Stanford University recently investigated what is responsible for the connection between stressors and depressive symptoms. In particular, they focused on the role of psycho-social resources, which refers to personal and social influences on people's ability to cope with stressors. Personal characteristics that tend to help people cope with stressors include being calm and easygoing and having a sense of control.
Emotional support, guidance, and assistance from family members and friends are examples of social factors that help people cope with stressors.
Unlike most other studies on this issue, the study conducted by the present researchers involved a long-term approach. A sample of 326 adults was followed over a period of 10 years. In other studies, researchers typically had looked at people of different ages and made inferences about the impact of changes in the amount of psycho-social resources over time.
The results demonstrate that changes in the amount of psycho-social resources that people have are completely responsible for the depressive symptoms that they sometimes experience following stressors. In other words, whether stressors lead to depressive symptoms depends entirely on the amount of psycho-social resources that people have. These findings highlight the importance of developing and maintaining psycho-social resources for successful stress prevention.
Source: Holahan, C. J., Moos, R. H., Holahan, C. K., & Cronkite, R. C. (1999). Resource loss, resource gain, and depressive symptoms: A 10-year model. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 77, 620-629.