Depression Causes

There are a number of factors in depression causes. There are as many causes of depression as there are types of depression. This article discusses non-pathological depression, mental disorders, Seasonal Affective Disorder, Postpartum Depression and their causes.

Depression can develop from a variety of causes, which are sometimes clear-cut and obvious to both the patient and observers and sometimes obscure to everyone. This article discusses the range of causes that have been identified for depression.

Non-pathological Depression and Its Causes

Non-pathological depression is a self-limited emotional response to a situation in life that is sad, painful, unsettling, or difficult to bear in some way. It is natural, normal, and goes away without medical intervention, although it may last for some weeks.

The types of events that may lead to non-pathological depression are those that are included in the Social Readjustment Rating Scale, originally developed by Holmes and Rahe in 1967 and revised in 1997 by Scully et al., including changes in work and marital status, but can also include less important events. People can become depressed even when “good” events occur, sometimes because the possibilities are over-whelming, they feel undeserving, etc.

The Causes of Depression as a Mental Disorder

A variety of causes have been linked to depression in general, and the cause of a particular instance of depression may be complex. The area is not completely understood, even by experts. Nevertheless, it seems accurate to say that biological, genetic, behavioral, and environmental factors can each contribute to depression. Abnormalities in the levels of neurotransmitters in the brain may be a biochemical cause for depression. In addition, certain personality traits, such as a pessimistic turn or mind, a lack of self-esteem, or hypersensitivity may be risk factors for, if not causes of, depression.

Some types of depression, such as atypical depression and dysthymia, seem to run in families, suggesting that there may be a genetic component. Like non-pathological depression, the mental disorder depression may grow out of a situation or event, or it may grow out of non-pathological depression itself. Chronic stress has also been called a cause of depression.

Certain serious medical conditions, such as heart disease, hormonal disorders, and dementias, are often found co-existing with depression, and the relationship between them is not fully understood. Depression has also been connected with certain medications that may have a causal relationship, as well as substance abuse.

Diet deficiencies may lead to depression, and recently insomnia has been shown to be a precursor of, if not a cause of, depression. Depression has also been caused by other physical problems, such as a brain tumor.

Seasonal Affective Disorder and Its Causes

Researchers are not sure what causes seasonal affective disorder (SAD), but are working on the theory that it is related to a person’s circadian rhythms and how they are affected by sunlight. Melatonin and serotonin - a hormone and neurotransmitter - may also be involved. Other factors that have an effect may include a genetic component and a geographical component: it seems that SAD affects more people who are farther from the equator and in locations that receive less sunlight. See the article “Seasonal Depression” for more information.

Postpartum Depression and Its Causes

While up to seventy percent of new mothers experience “baby blues,” a short period of moodiness and irritability after the birth of a baby that resolves itself, between eight and twenty percent of new mothers experience a more serious condition called postpartum depression. Causes may include the woman’s strong reactivity to her own hormonal changes, combined with the ordinary demands and difficulties of carrying for a newborn and any particular stressors, such as a difficult pregnancy or the newborn having a medical issue. High levels of corticotrophin-releasing hormone have recently been implicated as a possible factor or warning sign of women who are likely to develop postpartum depression.


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