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Of all the medical breakthroughs that have occurred in recent years, one that continues to elude researchers entails the nature of treating depression with treatment and medicine, a fundamental question remains: What causes depression?

According to the National Institute of Mental Health, cutting edge studies have presented new chances for analyzing people who have depression. Brain-imaging technologies, like magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), have shown the minds of individuals with depression actually appear different from those of individuals without depression. The brain regions that regulate sleep, behavior, appetite, and disposition function and neurotransmitters appear to be out of balance.

They can’t see what causes depression to happen in the first place, though researchers can see all this. The current reasoning is the fact that depression is brought on by a combination of genetics and environmental, psychological, and biochemical variables.


Genetics, or family history, is one of the strongest of the possible causes of depression. Actually, recent research suggests that if one of your parents has had depression, your own danger of depression almost doubles.

Donald P. Hall, MD, the writer of Breaking Through Depression and the supervisor of Riverside Counseling Center in Leesburg, Va., says, “The risk for depression is 20 percent for women and 10 percent for men, and the risk is doubled if one of your parents suffered from depression.”

David Sack, MD, CEO of the writer of more than 50 journal articles on depression as well as Assurances Treatment Centers in California, says a family history can include specific warning signs which will help ascertain whether genetics might present a risk of depression for you personally also. “The most disturbing indication would have been a history of suicide in the family — in particular, violent suicide, like a gunshot wound, hanging, or leaping from a window or bridge,” says Dr. Sack. “Ernest Hemingway’s family is an instance where bipolar disorder, violent suicides, and substance addiction occurred in multiple family members.”

Traumatic Events

Stabbing events follow behind genetics on the record of possible causes of depression. Dr. Hall says that some of these events may be more likely to lead to depression than others. “The passing of a loved one, particularly a child, is among the most difficult life occasions to cope with,” he says. Such losses increase the risk for depression and divorce. Divorce may be a reason for depression along with a result of untreated depression.

An identical relationship exists with joblessness. Untreated depression may lead to inferior performance at work and loss of a job. “Conversely,” says Hall, “continued joblessness can also increase the risk for serious depression.”

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Often, not merely one but a combination of numerous events that are traumatic can finally drive a person into depression. Depression is most often triggered when multiple stressful events occur inside a limited while. Fiscal issues, unemployment, and issues with family and friends have a way of building on each other. “As normal life adversities are added together, a tendency toward depression grows,” says Hall. “And like the proverbial straw that broke the camel’s back, the closing bad thing that triggers someone to get depressed may look quite little.”

Drug and Alcohol Misuse

A lot of the possible causes of depression are interrelated: Some can be both causes and contributing factors to sustained depression. That is true for alcohol and substance misuse. In fact, recent research indicates that alcohol abuse can actually double your own risk for depression. “Chronic alcohol abuse can actually shrink the brain,” says Hall. “The greater the excesses in alcohol abuse, the more the brain shrinks. Although research on different drug abuse is lacking, it’s fairly realistic to presume that continual misuse of other drugs also damages the brain, leading to malfunction of disposition control regions.”

Other Variables

A number of other factors can also play a role in causing depression, says Penny B. Donnenfeld, PhD, a psychologist in private practice in New York City. Some of the causes she cites are postpartum depression, which some women experience after childbirth, together with depression related to some medicines, like sleeping pills, birth control pills, antibiotics, and blood pressure medicine.

Donnenfeld adds that depression is also more likely to happen in addition to specific medical illnesses, including cancer, heart problems, diabetes, Alzheimer’s, stroke, Parkinson’s disease, and hypothyroidism, and to accompany life periods including perimenopause.

While factors such as genetics can’t be changed, you can work to command lifestyle behaviours, such as substance abuse, to rule out some of the causes of depression that might change you. If you’re concerned with the sources of depression or believe you may be experiencing symptoms of depression, speak to your physician or counselor about getting an evaluation.

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