Causes of depression – Real causes
There are series of risk factors persistently associated with depression, and its causes, respectively
❶ Family depression history
Studies show that if a close family member has a history of depression, then we too have an increased risk of suffering from this condition. This correlation is more pronounced in women. This may be due to genetic inheritance. It can also occur as a result of the effect another person’s depression can have on us. If a mother suffers from depression when she is pregnant or immediately after giving birth, the child has an increased vulnerability to depression than if the mother has depression at another time.
❷ Early losses and trauma
Certain events in our lives have long-term physical and emotional effects, even after we think we have overcome them. Researchers have found that early loss and emotional trauma increase vulnerability to depression throughout life. Early losses refer to the death of a parent or the abandonment of a close person. The period of mourning after the death or loss of a loved one is absolutely natural and does not constitute a mental illness.
The roots may lie in events long past, which we thought we had forgotten or outgrown. If we are not aware of the connection between depression and these early events, it will be all the more difficult to heal.
Traumatic events refer to experiences such as physical, emotional, sexual abuse, accidents, hospitalization or illness. They can cause post-traumatic stress disorder, which, if left untreated, can turn into other mental illnesses, including depression. Many researchers believe that trauma causes changes in brain functions that result in depression or anxiety.
❸ Medical problems
Body and mind are in an interdependent relationship. The suffering of one will inevitably affect the other. A number of medical conditions are associated with emotional changes and an increased risk of depression.
- Among the best-known culprits are thyroid conditions. An excess of thyroid hormones (hyperthyroidism) can trigger manic symptoms.
- On the opposite side of the spectrum, a lack of thyroid hormones (hypothyroidism).
- Heart disease has also been associated with depression. Up to half of heart attack survivors have clinical symptoms of depression.
- Neurodegenerative diseases, such as multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease, Huntington’s disease;
- Nutritional deficiencies, such as vitamin B12 deficiency;
- Other endocrine conditions, such as adrenal gland problems;
- Autoimmune conditions, such as lupus;
- Some viruses and infections, such as hepatitis, HIV and mononucleosis;
Medication is necessary in the treatment and healing of countless physical and mental ailments. But as we know, drugs do not only have the beneficial, desirable effects for which they are administered to us. They also have side effects.
So, some medications have been found to play a role in triggering depression.
These include contraceptives, corticosteroids or antihypertensive medication. There is no general consensus regarding the risk of depression when taking these drugs. However, it is important to monitor how we feel during treatment.
We live in an era where stress has reached record highs. It may be one of the reasons why depression has become more common than ever. We all have everyday sources of stress, such as financial problems, work or difficulties in relationships with those around us. We also inevitably face major stressful events such as job loss, the death of a loved one, or divorce/separation.
The latter are usually the events that most of us associate with the causes of depression. In reality, they are the last straw. Our genetic vulnerability, everyday stress, and other predisposing factors erode our mental well-being over time. And finally, a major negative event is the one that triggers the depression that has been lurking for a long time.
Low socioeconomic status has been identified by multiple studies as a risk factor for depression. A study by Cambridge researchers found that a year-on-year decline in living standards was associated with increased incidence of depression and worsening symptoms.
Also, poverty may explain why depression in women has a higher incidence. More women live in poverty globally. Unfortunately, poverty is not a problem that can be solved at the individual level, but at the societal level. It is important that the authorities take measures to promote equal opportunities and humane standards of living for all citizens in order to improve the mental health of society.
Causes of depression – Why it’s important to know them
First of all, it is important to know the causes of depression because it is important to take preventive measures or to seek professional help immediately after the first signs appear. The success of the treatment is influenced by the rapidity of its establishment after the onset of symptoms. So the speed with which we act is important in the healing process.
Second, understanding the causes of depression and other mental health conditions combats the stigma associated with them and makes it easier to receive treatment. Globally, it is estimated that 70% of people suffering from mental health conditions do not receive treatment for them.
Studies have shown that the most significant obstacles that stand in the way of accessing adequate professional help are:
- lack of knowledge about the symptoms of mental illnesses;
- that the general population does not know how to access mental health services;
- prejudice against people with mental illnesses;
- the expectation of being discriminated against after receiving a psychiatric diagnosis.
Thus, stigma and stereotypes are perpetuated by ignorance, and decrease access to treatment. Education about mental health conditions is the first step in getting the treatment we need to heal and move on with our lives.