How many times have you heard somebody say that depression has made him or her wonder why all bad things happen to them? It is not a matter of fate. Depression is a complex disease. It is essential to be aware of and understand the causes of depression to be able to combat it better.
The Causes of Depression are:
1) Biochemical Factors in The Brain
There are many neurotransmitters in our brains that serve different purposes. Neurotransmitters are chemicals that carry messages or signals from one part of our brain to another. Three essential neurotransmitters affect the mood of a person- noradrenaline, serotonin, and dopamine.
From various researches, it has been found that often these three do not function properly in people who suffer from depression. The signals either don’t reach the next nerve cell or just get depleted.
In people with depression, it is mostly serotonin whose levels are reduced. In more severe cases, levels of noradrenaline and dopamine are also affected. Research has shown that depression can also shrink some brain cells.
2) Genetic factors
How does genetics cause depression? There isn’t one particular gene that carries the disease but different genes that exert small effects that accumulate and cause depression. A family history of depression increases the risk of depression in future progenies.
One particular research that studied twins to check inheritance of depression had confirmed that it is indeed possible for depression to be a genetic problem.
Some personality types are more at risk of suffering from depression than others are. Temperament and personality can be big contributors to depression. People with the following personality styles are much more prone to depression.
- ‘Self-critical’ personality type: Self-criticism is good for development, but too much of it is harmful. People with this personality trait have very low self-esteem.
- ‘Socially avoidant’ personality type: They avoid social gatherings because they are shy and afraid of what people might think of them or say to them.
- ‘Irritable’ personality type. They are very easily agitated and have low tolerance levels. Endurance isn’t their key strength.
- ‘Personally reserved’ personality type: They embrace isolation all the time. They feel very threatened and become vulnerable when they feel that their inner world has been exposed.
- ‘Anxious worrying’ personality type: Very nervous and highly-strung. People with this personality trait sweat it endlessly for the simplest of situations.
- ‘Rejection sensitive’ personality type: They hardly ever take any initiative because a constant fear of rejection works inside them that feeds their insecurity endlessly. A feeling of non-acceptance eats them from inside out that leads to ‘anxious worrying’, being ‘personally reserved’, and ‘socially avoidant.’
Having one of the personality traits from the above doesn’t always guarantee depression. The personality traits are contributing factors. They trigger other nerve cells in the brain, have a domino effect, and, with other causes, lead to depression.
4) Physical Health Problems
Being ill and not having to attend school might have seemed like a great idea when you were a kid, but it isn’t the case always. Ill health dampens the mood alongside weakening the body physically. Chronic pain, irreversible diseases, certain wounds over time can affect the brain cells to the point of making the person depressed. Some particular medical conditions that are known to have depression as an effect are:
- Skin diseases like psoriasis, vitiligo
- Various nerve problems that result in physical abnormalities
- Cardiovascular diseases
- Thyroid problems
- Some Cancers
- Brain Tumor
Studies are being carried out to find out if a compromised immune function is also one of the causes of depression.
Stress is usually the aftermath of a situation that did not bode well with you. Stress is unavoidable. Everybody is exposed to varying degrees of stress at various points in their lives. Some people are more resilient to it whereas others are not. The latter is easily vulnerable to depression.
Stress can be caused due to a nasty divorce of parents, abusive parents, death of one or both parents, financial problems, health problems, etc.
Many older adults suffer from depression. As humans age, brain functions slow down. As a result, the pathways of neurotransmitters become mangled. Hence, mood-affecting chemicals like serotonin do not remain as effective as it was earlier. As older adults are expected to slow down, it is possible for family members and doctors sometimes to miss the signs.
Some older adults develop depression after they start suffering from dementia. Mini strokes and high blood pressure also result in depression. The feeling of loneliness (in older adults who are left alone for long periods) is also one of the primary reasons for depression.
Very less acknowledged, depression during and after pregnancy is quite common. It is usually divided into three parts:
- The Baby Blues
50% to 80% of all mothers are known to have experienced postpartum blues after childbirth. It can last for up to 2 weeks but in most cases, fades away after a few days. Symptoms include feeling overwhelmed or anxious, having mood swings, losing appetite, frequent crying spells, and sleep trouble.
- Perinatal Depression (encompasses prenatal and postpartum depression)
This occurs in every 1 out of 5 mothers. Symptoms include lack of joy, lower libido, severe mood swings, loss of interest, trouble in concentrating, withdrawal from family and friends, emotional numbness.
- Postpartum Psychosis
Postpartum Psychosis affects every 1 or 2 in 1,000 women. Women diagnosed with bipolar disorder or schizoaffective disorder have an elevated chance of suffering from postpartum psychosis.
The onset of depression is linked to stress- the stress of becoming a new parent, of having to be responsible for the life of another human being, major physical changes during and after pregnancy, labour pain, etc.
Sometimes miscarriage, lack of family support, issues related to childbirth are also contributing factors. The postnatal change in lifestyle can also be a trigger. Some people struggle a lot to adapt, deal with the odd hours that go behind taking care of the baby. Others cannot come to terms with their physical changes and become depressed whilst trying to cope with it.
Identifying the causes of depression is not always easy. In most cases, there can be more than one reason for depression. If you spot any of the signs or symptoms of depression, consult a doctor at the earliest