Causes of Depression.
Causes of Depression.
This may appear to be a simple question, but yet it yields quite a convoluted answer. To put it simply, there are many causes of depression. It could be likened to asking “what causes broken bones”? A car accident, a collision playing sport, falling from a ladder, catching a hard ball or many other situations/events/things can cause broken bones. Much the same could be said about depression. Basically though, depression can be caused by biological, psychological and social factors (now recognised with a bio-psycho-social perspective), (Ref. E.P. p472; A.A.I. SG p42.). From my own personal experience of being diagnosed with Major Depressive Disorder in 2004, doctors told me that the cause of my depression was both situational and biological.
For some people, depression can develop from biological or physical elements, where-as for others it can be more from psychological or social factors which can act as a trigger. Stress may precede depression and it can also develop without any apparent or obvious reason. Below is listed some causes with just a little expansion.
Depression can be caused by:
* Biological imbalance: Altered levels of neurotransmitters which basically act as a catalyst of communicating messages with the brain’s structure. A low level of serotonin can be a contributing factor in the development of depression. There is also another neurotransmitter called norepinephrine that is scarce during depression (Ref. E.P. p. 491).
* Biological factors; Physical illness (eg, diabetes, cancer, hormonal disorders) can correlate with depression.
* Particular prescription medications: Some drugs which are used to treat hypertension and some hormone treatment or use of corticosteroids (a class of steroid hormones) along with anti-Parkinson drugs can lead to depression (AAI. SG p. 44).
* Hereditary factors; The tendency to develop depression can be a pattern which can run in families. It has been long known that mood disorders run in families (Ref. E.P. p. 443). If a person has a parent or sibling who became depressed before the age of 30, then there is an increased risk of depression (including Bipolar Affective Disorder). Note; basically “affect” in the field of mental health basically refers to one’s observable emotions as how it is perceived by others/observers. It can simply be described as an immediately expressed and observed emotion (Ref. AAI. GOTT p. 353).
If one identical twin is diagnosed as having a major depressive disorder, there is a likely probability (about one in two chances) that at some stage the other twin will develop this too. If one identical twin happens to have Bipolar Disorder, then the chances are around 7 in 10 that the other twin will at some stage be diagnosed similarly. Among fraternal twins, the corresponding odds or chances are just a little under one in five. Depressive tendencies among identical twins even occurs when they are reared apart and even more, people who are adopted who also experience a mood disorder often have close biological relatives who have (had) a mood disorder or who develop problems with alcohol, or who attempt to end their life (Ref. E.P. p443).
* Excessive stress; Personal tragedies or disasters can be associated with depression due to stress, and also a combination of life events and losses (or grief and loss) can contribute to a person’s sense of inability to cope.
* Developmental crisis and situational circumstances; Through specific life stages such as adolescence and mid-life while experiencing a loss, people are more prone to developing depression. Difficult situations such as divorce can contribute to clinical depression.
* Personality and cognitve factors;People with particular personality characteristics are more more prone to experiencing depression. Personality traits which can make one more susceptible include those who are dependent on others and those who carry perfectionist traits. People with negative thinking patterns and low self-esteem (cognitive factors) are more likely to developing clinical depression.
* Other psychiatric conditions; People with other disorders or illnesses such as Schizophrenia or other psychosis, Bipolar Affective Disorder and particularly anxiety disorders find that such disorders or illnesses can play a large part in the development of depression. For example, in the past it was unclear if depression tended to lead to OCD or vise-versa, but now it is recognised that depression usually develops after symptoms or a diagnosis of OCD.
* Alcohol and illegal drugs; Such substances are known to cause or increase the symptoms of depression. This is not surprising as alcohol, for example, is a depressant.
* Social factors; Poor social circumstances and isolation can contribute to depression. Isolation can be worsened by other conditions such as physical disability or deafness, so in a way there are far more conditions such as diabetes which can be a significant factor into the development of depression (Ref. DIOP).
* Gender; Women tend to be more prone and this could be due to a number of reasons including stress caused by multiple responsibilities that women in general have, and also due to hormonal changes that women experience through pregnancy, menstruation, childbirth and menopause.
It is also relevant to note that prior episodes can contribute to further episodes of depression.
Please reach out and ask for help if you are experiencing depression. Here at Beyond My label, we have peer support workers who are more than willing to listen to you.
(Article written by Paul Inglis).
AAI. GOTT: Ashby Allan Institute, Glossary of Technical Terms
AAI SG: Ashby Allan Institute, Study Guide.
E.P. : Exploring Psychology Sixth Edition.
DOIP: Depression in Older People.
AAI. GOTT. p. 353: Ashby Allen Institute, 2005, Glossary of Technical Terms, Ashby Allen Institute, Brisbane.
AAI SG: Ashby Allan Institute, 2005, Study Guide, Ashby Allan Institute, Brisbane,
E.P: Myers David G., 2005, Exploring Psychology, Sixth Edition, Worth Publishers, New York.
DOIP: Pfizer, 2006, Depression in Older People, Pfizer, West Ryde NSW.