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What Causes Depression?

Recognize Your Risk Factors


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Some if not all of those controllable factors aren’t always that controllable - sleep, diet and alcohol disturbance are even classed as symptoms. Report
In my growing up family depression was never allowed--you just kept working. Sometimes it worked but many times not. I find just getting outside to help a lot. Report
Thank you for an excellent article on depression. I have had it my whole life and found the article to be very informative. If people want to go deeper the internet is open to all! Report
I didn't see any mention of short day effects on some people. Depression can also occur after severe trauma. It may be linked with Fibromyalgia in some way since they are both treated with meds from the same group. Not everyone can tolerate meds from that group. Report
You can get all causes of depression:
happy/depression Report
Depression has always been considered a bad word in my family. My Father's mother, my grandmother had been hospitalized due to her depression throughout the majority of his child hood.
Years ago, I was taking Prozac to a period of depression that I had been going through. I felt like it helped at the time, but the cause was never determined. Report
I have Clinical Depression which is inherited. I do take medication but there are times when it just isn't enough and food is what I head for. All the sweet desserts, chocolate and also anything crunchy. As much as I know intellectually, emotions take over and I hate when that happens. I do Zumba 1hr 3X a week plus strength training and that really does help emotionally. You can actually feel the endorphins working plus everybody is sweating and panting with you so your not alone. Another big help is as you're exercising with the instructor there is great big mirror in front of you so you can't help but see what you really truly look like. Report
Thank you Marty and Zonkeroo - there is a big difference between "being depressed" and "having depression." Contrary to what the quiz says, everyone feels depressed at some point, and it's normal. When students study real hard and get a grade much lower than expected, it can alter the mood for a sustained amount of time, and that is depression, a lowered state of mood/being. When an adult gets a demotion, totals a car, goes through serious illness, or has financial concerns it can be classified as being depressed.

Having depression is different. Think back to the commercials you see on TV. Does it last more than two weeks? Does your life come to a halt because of this serious altered mood? Do you feel like a completely different version of yourself? These are signs that the lowered mood state is more serious and needs assistance.

To Jenn, if you're still reading this, there are breaking studies in the past few years that suggest the effects of PTSD can lessen to such a degree that they no longer impact the person's daily life. The difference between the PTSD of Vietnam and that of the Gulf Wars is the kind of care that's available today. Medication to treat the immediate effects makes space for talk-therapy (counseling) to be effective. While you used to need to be on medications permanently, they are finding that it may no longer be the case. However, if you do go on medications (and they do a wonderful job when the right one is found), do not go off them alone - do it with the advice and oversight of a trained medical professional.

Remember, if you need it, it's okay. No one would tell a diabetic to get it together and just start making insulin. No one would tell a cancer patient to fight it harder so those cells go away. They rely on a medical team to help them manage and work with what's going on. You can manage depression with help and live a very full life.

Depression is a beast and it totally sucks. I've been battling depression since 2003 (actively) and have not really found any relief. I switch from one medication to the next hoping for some relief. Exercise does help *SOME* but not enough that I find myself happy again. Diet does help *some* but not enough that I can kick my meds to the curb. Prior to 2007 it was clinical depression and anxiety. Post 2007, it is clinical depression, anxiety, ADHD and PTSD brought on by the call to duty while battling PPD. I believe my depression is mostly environmental, but could be biological - hard telling since I'm the only one in my family being treated for it.

I have tried and tried to change my attitude, reduce my stress, eat better, exercise more, etc, etc, etc, but none of those things have provided the relief I seek. The Army doc told me that I'd be on medication 'til the day I die. I refuse to accept that and will continue to seek a coping mechanism that works for me without using drugs. We'll see how it goes... Report
I realize that this article is a broad overview of depression which is also a very broad topic. MARTY32M is right that a lot of the items listed are risk factors not actual causes in and of themselves. Many people have these things going on and do not have depression. I also would hope that the article would mention what I call "situational" depression vs clinical or biological based depression. Some situations leave people temporarily depressed due to a variety of reasons perhaps having to do with attitude, coping issues, normal life or other psychological reasons. However there is also long term biologically based depression which has to do with brain chemistry. The person may not have any risk factors going on (loss of job, divorce, death in family ...etc.) and still have biologically based depression due to low serotonin or other brain chemistry reasons. It only adds frustration to the problem to tell people dealing with this type of depression to "toughen up" or just change their attitude. It's important to know that while exercise and other techniques may help there really is no cure. Medication even has it's limits. I don't like it when people say get conciling or medication as if that will completely eliminate the problem. In my opinion like many things in life it is just something we can minimize but never completely get "cured" from. Report
Marty is correct.

WebMD has useful information about the multiple causes as well.

How Is Biology Related to Depression?

Researchers have noted differences in the brains of people who are depressed as compared to people who are not. For instance, the hippocampus, a small part of the brain that is vital to the storage of memories, appears to be smaller in people with a history of depression than in those who've never been depressed. A smaller hippocampus has fewer serotonin receptors. Serotonin is a calming brain chemical known as a neurotransmitter that allows communication between nerves in the brain and the body. It's also thought that the neurotransmitter norepinephrine may be involved in depression.

Scientists do not know why the hippocampus is smaller in those with depression. Some researchers have found that the stress hormone cortisol is produced in excess in depressed people. These investigators believe that cortisol has a toxic or poisonous effect on the hippocampus. Some experts theorize that depressed people are simply born with a smaller hippocampus and are therefore inclined to suffer from depression.

One thing is certain -- depression is a complex illness with many contributing factors. The latest scans and studies of brain chemistry that show the effects of antidepressants help broaden our understanding of the biochemical processes involved in depression. As scientists gain a better understanding of the cause(s) of depression, health professionals will be able to make better "tailored" diagnoses and, in turn, prescribe more effective treatment plans.

How Is Genetics Linked to the Risk of Depression?

We know that depression seems to run in families. This suggests that there's a genetic link to depression. Children, siblings, and parents of people with severe depression are much more likely to suffer from depression than are members of the general population. Multiple genes interacting with one another in special ways probably contribute to the various types of depression that run in families. Yet despite all the evidence of a family link to depression, scientists still have not been able to identify a "depression" gene.
These are not causes of depression. They are risk factors. Many of them are also risk factors for heart attack, but they are not causes. The cause of most heart attacks is a blood clot that forms when a plaque inside a coronary artery ruptures and blocks the artery, but why the plaque ruptures is not known. The cause of depression is even less well known. Here's a summary from

"There is no single known cause of depression. Rather, it likely results from a combination of genetic, biochemical, environmental, and psychological factors.

"Research indicates that depressive illnesses are disorders of the brain. Brain-imaging technologies, such as magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), have shown that the brains of people who have depression look different than those of people without depression. The parts of the brain responsible for regulating mood, thinking, sleep, appetite and behavior appear to function abnormally. In addition, important neurotransmitters–chemicals that brain cells use to communicate–appear to be out of balance. But these images do not reveal why the depression has occurred." Report
I'm thinking about you EVARABAGO - I think you've had more than your share of things the last few years but you've survived and have shown yourself to be stronger than you know. Sometimes its one day at a time, please keep the faith as you are doing it! One day at a time.
I said a prayer for you, Evarabago and CowboyCook! Hope you are both doing well. I think that we who tend to be depressed have a tougher time dealing with life events, like the death of a loved one. Please post again and let me know how you are doing. Report
for some wonderful information about depresssion and other mental illnesses you can go to : Its a wonderful site that was started by Glenn Close. Her sister is bipolar (like me) and her newphew has schizophrenia. It is for anybody affected by such diseases. It is estimated that 1 in 4 families is impacted by somebody they know or love. It has super information, and perhaps can be helpful in some small way to you. I know its helpful to me to not feel alone in my struggles with bipolar and weight. Report

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