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6 Causes of Depression



Depression is an extremely complex illness which makes it so much harder to treat than if you just have physical pain, which means you can take a painkiller. No one knows precisely what causes depressions but it can arise for a variety of reasons. A serious medical illness can bring on a bout of depression or maybe life changes such as the death of a loved one. Some people have depression run through their family history, and then there are some people that just have feelings of sadness and loneliness for no reason that is identifiable to cause depression.


Extensive research has been done on depression and people who have it and researchers have seen differences in brains of people who are diagnosed with clinical depressions compared with those you don’t. One of the findings is the hippocampus which is a small part of the brain vital for storing memories, is shown to be smaller in people who depression compared to those who have never had it.

The reason this can cause depression is that by having a smaller hippocampus means there are fewer serotonin receptors and serotonin in one of the chemicals in the brain that allows communications across different regions of the brain that involve processing emotions.

Unfortunately, there is no real evidence, nor can scientists explain, why a hippocampus may be smaller on one person and not on another. There are studies that show the stress hormone cortisol is produced to excess in people with depression and that maybe it’s this cortisol production that has a shrinking effect on the development of hippocampus.

Other experts believe that it is just genetics and that you are born with a smaller hippocampus which subsequently means you are more inclined to suffer from depression. However, there are many other parts of the brain that are involved with depression and therefore, it is likely that no one brain pathway accounts for depression.

Is it Genetics

Depression definitely runs in the family histories, so how does genetics relate to the risk of unhappiness? The fact that it does means that there is perhaps a genetic link as children and parents of people with depression are thought to be at a much higher risk themselves than those that don’t have family close family members with it.

A combination of genes interacting with each other can contribute to different kinds of depression yet there is little evidence to suggest that there is a gene that is solely responsible for depression, instead lots of genes that each then contribute a small effect towards depression when they are mixed with daily environmental factors.

The Use of Drugs

Many people with substance abuse problems have some form of major or clinical depression, and even if drugs or alcohol give a short term relief to these feelings, they ultimately make the depression a lot worse.

It’s never been a secret that there is a strong link between substance abuse and mental illness, and people that struggle with both is called a co-occuring disorder. The relationship between the two means that people who use hard drugs are more likely to suffer from depression and vice versa.

Examples of this can be:

  • People take drugs to get relief from depressive symptoms
  • Symptoms of depression may develop as a result of taking drugs or withdrawal when the drugs are stopped. For example, heroin long term effects when withdrawn are depression, amongst many other symptoms.
  • Taking drugs to get a release or escape from a problem which also maybe the cause of an episode of depression.
  • Financial problems caused by drug use can cause depression

Chronic illness

A chronic illness is defined as an illness that last for a long time and in some people, depression can be caused by this. Examples of these are diabetes, multiple sclerosis, heart disease and kidney disease. However, through different mediums like diet, exercise and medications, chronic illnesses can be controlled. This can also help cure the depression too.

Is Grief a Cause?

To lose someone you love is to lose your whole world and it is understandable that are emotions associated with grief are then related to depression such as sadness, loneliness, anxiety and low moods. However, is there a direct correlation between the two? Clinical depression differs slightly from grief as experts argue that those symptoms also include low self worth, negative thoughts and suicide, whereas grief can be more emotional therefore some researchers don’t believe that grief is a cause, whereas others believe it definitely does.

External Causes

Unfortunately, in this dark world we live in, there are many external factors that can cause depression to a whole variety of people ranging from the young to the old. People that have suffered any sort of abuse may find themselves a lot more susceptible to depression either immediately after, or later on in life when those chapters appear to have been closed in their life, yet they haven’t ‘dealt’ with it, therefore meaning those emotions get suppressed resulting in depressive thoughts.

Conflict with family members or friends can sometimes tip the balance in people that are emotionally unstable and therefore develop depression due to these disagreements.

Major events in people lives, whether good or bad can contribute to someone experiencing mental illness. Big events such as starting a job or getting married can develop depression as it’s a big change in your life whereas the obvious bad events include losing a job or getting divorced.

Environmental factors such as isolation thanks to moving house or job with a family member or disagreements with a family or social group can all contribute towards the risk of having depression.

There are many factors that have been listed that can cause depression, but there are also many factors that have not but it is essential that you look to seek help should you find yourself experiencing any symptoms that you think are depressive or that are new to you that you just don’t feel you can cope with.

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