Causes of Depression
As no two people are the same it makes it difficult to fully understand mental health issues. The causes of depression cannot be honed down to just one single reason. There are multiple different factors that can play a part in why a person may suffer with depression.
What is depression?
Many people within their lifetime will experience periods where they will feel sad. Depression is more than this. It is a disorder that affects a person’s mood and general outlook on life. With depression you may have intense feelings of helplessness, hopelessness and worthlessness. This can unfortunately lead to several further problems such as, employment problems, strain in relationships, drug and alcohol abuse and suicidal thoughts and attempts.
How to know if you have depression
In the DSM-5, a manual created by hundreds of international experts to help define and diagnose mental health issues, it says you could be suffering with depression if you have five or more of these symptoms for at least two weeks:
- A depressed mood during most of the day, especially in the morning
- Feeling tired and lethargic almost every day
- Feeling worthless or guilty almost every day
- Difficulty focusing, making decisions or remembering things
- Problems sleeping or sleeping too much
- No interest or pleasure in activities
- Thoughts of death and suicide
- Feeling restless
- Weight gain
Though this is list isn’t extensive, if you feel like you may suffer from depression, it’s important to seek help.
What are the causes of depression?
As said before, depression is not a condition with just one known cause. However, this list will suggest some of the most commonly thought reasons.
- Genetic: If a family member has been through depression, then you have a higher chance of experiencing a depressive disorder.
- Biochemical: In the brain you have neurotransmitters that control your happiness and pleasure. The main ones are serotonin, dopamine and norepinephrine. If these are out of sync, then it is easier to get in to a depressed state of mind. Antidepressants such as ‘Paroxetine’ work by trying to get these neurotransmitters back in to balance.
- Hormonal: A change in hormone production is believed to be strongly linked with a change in mood. This is commonly found when experiencing, menopause, childbirth and thyroid problems.
- Seasonal: Shorter days in the winter and a change to more windy and rainy weather can have an effect. It can make people feel more tired and cause a loss of interest in everyday activities. This type of depression usually goes away when the days start to become longer again.
- Situational: If a person has a traumatic experience, is going through a big change or has a difficult struggle in their life they can sometimes become depressed.
How to get help
With effective treatment, many people will go on to lead healthy and happy lives. In more severe cases, the treatment will often be more long-term. As the symptoms and causes of depression vary so much, treatments will be tailored specifically to you. Generally the first lines of treatment for depression are talk therapy and medication.
- Talk Therapy: Talk therapy involves discussing your problems with a trained therapist. They will help you by teaching you exercises and creating strategies to deal and cope with your depression. To find your nearest talk therapist, click here.
- Medication: Medication is a common part of treatment. Different types include:
- Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) – these typically have fewer side effects than others.
- Serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs)
- Tricyclic antidepressants – these can be very effective, but may lead to more severe side effects such as: blurred vision, weight gain and a low sex drive.
Changes to a person lifestyle alongside these methods have been known to improve the effects of treatment. Avoiding alcohol and recreational drugs will have a big impact. As will eating well and exercising, as these have both been known to improve a person’s mood.
Helping someone else with depression
If you know someone who may be going through depression, then these few steps are a good starting point on how to help them.
- Simply listen: By letting them talk and explain things without feeling judged, you may help them to feel better. It will give them a chance to get stuff off their chest and maybe see things in a different point of view.
- Keep in touch: As they might find it hard to get the energy to keep up contact, it is important to show that you are still there for them. It can be as small a gesture as just a text message.
- Don’t be critical: They are probably being very harsh and critical of themselves already so won’t need to think you feel the same. Though to you it may seem as simple as thinking differently about something, you can’t expect them to just ‘snap out of it’.
- Try not to do everything for them: Having a sense of independence can be important for recovery. If appropriate, have a discussion with them to see how they’d like you to act in these kinds of circumstances.
Depression is a serious issue that can affect people of any age and lifestyle. Thankfully there are a lot of people available to help. If you feel you may be going through depression, you can start to seek advice by talking to your doctor.