Depression is not just an extreme state of sadness but is, in fact, a disease which has the ability to take over the entire mind. The causes of depression are not entirely understood and cannot be narrowed down to a single source. A combination of events and other personal factors play a role together resulting in depression. Depression is beyond just an imbalance of brain chemistry and is much complex than lack of brain chemicals.Let us understand a few reasons that can be linked to the development of depression in an individual:
A few people have variants of genes for Galanin which is a brain chemical linked to increased chances of developing depression. Galanin plays a significant role in depression as it makes people more vulnerable to psychological stress.
According to research, difficulties in life such as long-term unemployment, long-term loneliness or isolation, involvement in an abusive or uncaring relationship, or prolonged state of stress – are highly likely to amount to depression. In addition, a recent sudden event such as loss of a job or a loved one can trigger depression in already susceptible individuals. Prolonged financial problems, divorce, or acute stress can also end into depression.
Good physical health is a pre-requisite of good mental health. People with failing physical health are susceptible to mental conditions like depression. Unhealthy life style and daily practices is one such cause that leads to degraded physical helath conditions, contributing directly to deterioration in mental health. Negative life style factors that add to the depressive mood or drag one into it are:
- Regular consumption of alcohol and other abusing drugs
- Spending too much time in work and accepting work overloads
- Unhealthy and unbalanced diet
- Not exercising or poor level of physical activities
- Not sleeping enough
- Lack of leisure time or involvement in recreational activities
Some individuals might be more prone to depression as it is known to run in families. However, just a genetic inclination for depression or even a case of a parent suffering from it might not pass onto an individual. Personal factors and circumstances in life have a strong influential role in the culmination of depression.
Among the many interpersonal cases that can be argued to contribute to the onset of a depressive disorder, the ambiance of a family has the most weight and impact on a depressed individual. The most common situations that can lead to depression due to family environment are:
- Unhappy marriage and sharing a persistent conflicting and uncaring relationship with spouse.
- Pregnancy and post-pregnancy depression (post-partum depression) among women
- Depressed parent affect the mental health of the child in the family
- Unhappy and conflicting marriages or divorce of parents creat stress and depression in children
- Terminal illness of a family member can affect mental health of others in the family
- Competitive mindset of parents that pushes the children to excel in all their endeavours or to reach a goal set by them can put children under tremendous mental pressure, which may develop into depressive disorder.
Substance abuse might both be the cause and result of depression. Many individuals battling with depression have a current or past alcohol and drug problem. Nearly 30% of people suffering from substance abuse also suffer from major or clinical depression.
It has been observed that people suffering from depression often tend to resort to alcohol to stay away from the depression or its causes. However, the outcome is just the opposite. they wake up next day feeling worse and without any change to the depression.
Famous artist Vincent van Gogh had a liking for alcohol that deteriorated his already troubled mental health. Australian swimming sensation Ian Thorpe has admitted to have been drinking a lot to deal with his depression but later realized that it was not helping him.
A few medications such as corticosteroids, isotretinoin, interferon, and a few beta blockers might lead to the rise of depression. These medicines administered for a condition might bear side effects that may have altering effects on the brain chemicals.
Sometimes depression and a major illness have been seen to co-exist together. The worry and stress of coping with a medical condition can amount to depression, especially if an individual is dealing with chronic pain or long-term distress. Chronic conditions like diabetes, obstructive pulmonary disease, cancer and cardiovascular ailments make depression even more likely.
About 10-15% of depression cases might root from an underlying medical condition such as thyroid imbalance, heart disease, degenerative neurological conditions, endocrine disorders etc. Depression often lifts once the medical condition is treated.
Few individuals might have increased risk of developing depression owing to their personality traits. Such patients have a tendency to worry a lot, achieve perfectionism, have low self-esteem, have a negative thought process or are quite self-critical. The reason behind depression can be a lack of a successful coping mechanism to deal with setbacks in life.
Seasonal Affective Disorder
Many people develop depression as a result of the changing season. About 1-2% of the population and in particular young people and women suffer from a seasonal affective disorder or SAD. SAD might be triggered due to low exposure to daylight common during the winter months.
The deadly disorder comes with its myriad causes & consequences. Having a prior knowledge makes people aware of them which can prevent many uncalled for incidents from taking place simply due to lack of understanding and awareness.