Feeling sad, alone, or depressed is normal. But anyone who has experienced major depressive disorder knows that it feels anything but normal. Major depressive disorder can be difficult to live with, and it causes many people to wonder what causes it. The exact cause of depression is still unknown, but scientists have theories and ideas about what can cause it, including a combination of nature and nurture. These are the most common causes and risk factors for depression.
On the nature side of the causes debate, genetics is thought to play a major role in whether someone will develop depression. Because doctors still aren’t sure what causes depression, it’s hard to determine which genes play a factor. What scientists do know though is that depression runs in families. People whose immediate family members have depression have an increased risk of also developing it.
People who suffer from alcohol and drug addiction often also have depression and anxiety. Nearly 30% of people with substance abuse problems have major or clinical depression too. The depression could come either before the addiction, in which case many people try to self-medicate through drugs and alcohol. The depression can also come afterward, due to changes in brain chemistry or from negative life events from the addiction.
Depression sometimes co-exists with major illnesses or is triggered by another medical condition. People with chronic or major illnesses, such as HIV/AIDS, asthma, or Parkinson’s may have what is called “secondary depression”. The change in the quality of life that comes with these disorders is thought to be the cause of secondary depression.
Some medications carry the risk and side effects of depression. Doctors warn patients about this ahead of time, and urge them to report any depression or suicidal thoughts. Patients that take drugs that carry the risk of depression are closely monitored.
Abuse, either physical, sexual, or emotional, can increase one’s vulnerability to depression. Past abuse, especially childhood abuse has an even higher risk. Depression may not develop until years after the event.
Major life events, even happy ones, can bring stress into people’s lives. Events such as starting a new job, moving, graduating, getting married, or having kids are positive, but can still lead to depression. Negative events can also cause depression such as losing a job, getting divorced, retiring, or losing a loved one.
If you or someone you love is struggling with depression do not hesitate to contact us. Depression makes you feel as if there is no hope or end to the struggle, but that is not true. With the right treatment, you can feel like yourself again.