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What Causes Depression?
Depression is a complex mental disorder that does not have a single cause. Research shows those with depression often have a chemical imbalance in their brains.
Sometimes, the cause of depression is obvious, such as the death of a loved one. However, some people become depressed for no reason at all, which makes it harder to pinpoint the cause of depression.
What Causes Depression?
Here is a list of things that can increase your risk for depression:
- Abuse. Abuse, whether it’s physical, verbal, or mental, can cause depression. Studies show those who have gone through abuse have a higher risk of developing depression.1
- Age. As someone ages, they become more at risk for depression. According to a study conducted by the University of California, 40% of seniors regularly experience loneliness. Oftentimes, depression in seniors comes due to the lack of social interaction from living alone, as well as a loss of purpose because they no longer contribute to the workforce.2
- Brain changes. There are a few changes that occur in the brain when someone has depression. Inflammation in the brain causes the body to produce higher levels of translocator proteins, and studies have found that individuals who had depression for over 10 years had higher translocator protein levels. Another change is the gray matter in the brain shrinks when someone has depression, which affects how someone processes information.3
- Death or grief. The loss of a loved one can oftentimes cause depression as an individual feels abandoned and becomes emotionally devastated. Death can have a significant impact on someone, especially if it’s a spouse, child, close relative, or good friend.
- Family history. If an individual is directly related to someone who has depression, the chances that they will have depression increase. However, research shows that depression is complex and can’t be pinpointed directly to one gene. Instead, a combination of genes may influence depression, with each gene contributing a small amount to the overall depression.4
- Gender. Women are twice more likely to experience depression than men. Researchers believe hormonal changes during puberty can influence a woman’s risk of getting depression over her lifetime. Women are also likely to experience depression from premenstrual syndrome, pregnancy, postpartum, and menopause due to the changes their body undergoes.5
- Illness. The news of a life-changing or life-threatening illness such as cancer can cause feelings of depression. People with severe head injuries will often experience mood swings and emotional changes as well.6
- Medications. Certain medications can cause or worsen the symptoms of depression. Some of these include beta-blockers, which usually treat high blood pressure, but they can also be used for treating migraines and irregular heartbeats. Drugs that affect hormones, drugs that treat Parkinson’s, and stimulants are also linked to depression.7
- Personality: People with certain personality traits are more prone to depression. Some personality traits linked to depression include hypersensitivity, shyness, perfectionism, and self-focus.8
- Substance abuse. People who seek out different substances will often have depression. The Addiction Center estimates that 1/3 of people with depression also have an alcohol problem because many alcoholics use drinking to emotionally escape from their problems.9
Do You Think You Have Depression?
Depression can interfere with your work, social, and personal life. If you believe depression may be interfering with your everyday routine and relationships, seek help from a medical professional.
There isn’t one single sign of depression, but a doctor can help guide you to find the underlying cause. They can refer you to a mental health professional or prescribe antidepressants to help you cope with the condition.
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Saber Healthcare is an organization dedicated to providing consultant services to long-term care providers. This article is for informational purposes and is not meant to be seen as professional advice. Please consult with a medical expert before relying on the information provided.
- “Abuse, trauma, and mental health.” U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office on Women's Health. 16 February 2021. Accessed 19 May 2022. Link: https://www.womenshealth.gov/mental-health/abuse-trauma-and-mental-health#:~:text=Women%20who%20have%20gone%20through,scars%20of%20trauma%20and%20abuse.
- “One is the Loneliest Number: Combating Senior Isolation.” STONEGATE SENIOR LIVING, LLC. Accessed 19 May 2022. Link: https://stonegatesl.com/one-is-the-loneliest-number-combating-senior-isolation/#:~:text=More%20than%2040%20percent%20of,death%2C%20the%20UCSF%20researchers%20find.
- Wiginton, Keri. Bhandari, Smitha.“Physical Effects of Depression on the Brain.” WebMD. 28 July 2020. Accessed 19 May 2022. Link: https://www.webmd.com/depression/depression-physical-effects-brain
- Bruce, Debra Fulgan. “Causes of Depression.” WebMD. 8 March 2021. Accessed 19 May 2022. Link: https://www.webmd.com/depression/guide/causes-depression
- “Depression in women: Understanding the gender gap.” Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research (MFMER). 29 January 2019. Accessed 19 May 2022. Link: https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/depression/in-depth/depression/art-20047725
- “Causes - Clinical depression.” NHS. 10 December 2019. Accessed 19 May 2022. Link: https://www.nhs.uk/mental-health/conditions/clinical-depression/causes/
- Schimelpfening, Nancy. Gans, Steve. VeryWellMind. Last updated 17 September 2020. Accessed 19 May 2022. Link: https://www.verywellmind.com/drugs-that-can-cause-depression-1067458
- “PEOPLE AT RISK FOR DEPRESSION HAVE THESE 6 PERSONALITY CHARACTERISTICS.” Inverse. 10 September 2019. Accessed 19 May 2022. Link: https://www.inverse.com/article/59987-depression-psychology-personality-characteristics
- “Depression.” Addiction Center. Accessed 19 May 2022. Link: https://www.addictioncenter.com/addiction/depression-and-addiction/