What Causes Depression?
It is important to understand that depression is not caused by one thing, but probably by a combination of factors interacting with one another. These factors can be grouped into two broad categories – biology and psychology. Many biological and psychological factors interact in depression, although precisely which specific factors interact may differ from person to person.
The biological factors that might have some effect on depression include: genes, hormones, and brain chemicals.
Depression often runs in families, which suggests that individuals may inherit genes that make them vulnerable to developing depression. However, one may inherit an increased vulnerability to the illness, but not necessarily the illness itself. Although many people may inherit the vulnerability, a great many of them may never suffer a depressive illness.
Research has found that there are some hormonal changes that occur in depression. The brain goes through some changes before and during a depressive episode, and certain parts of the brain are affected. This might result in an over-or-under-production of some hormones, which may account for some of the symptoms of depression. Medication treatment can be effective in treating these conditions.
Brain Chemicals (Neurotransmitters):
Nerve cells in the brain communicate to each other by specific chemical substances called neurotransmitters. It is believed that during depression, there is reduced activity of one or more of these neurotransmitter systems, and this disturbs certain areas of the brain that regulate functions such as sleep, appetite, sexual drive, and perhaps mood. The reduced level of neurotransmitters results in reduced communication between the nerve cells and accounts for the typical symptoms of depression. Many antidepressant drugs increase the neurotransmitters in the brain.
Many thinking patterns are associated with depression. These thinking patterns include:
> Overstressing the negative.
> Taking the responsibility for bad events but not for good events.
> Having inflexible rules about how one should behave.
> Thinking that you know what others are thinking and that they are thinking badly of you.
Sometimes people experience events where loss occurs, and this can bring on depression. The experience of loss may include the loss of a loved one through bereavement or separation, loss of a job, loss of a friendship or relationship, loss of a promotion, loss of face, loss of support, etc.
Sense of Failure:
Some people may stake their happiness on achieving particular goals, such as getting ‘As’ on their exams, getting a particular job, earning a certain amount of profit from a business venture, or finding a life partner. If for some reason they are not able to achieve those goals, they might believe that they have failed somehow, and it is this sense of failure that can sometimes bring on, or increase, depression.
An accumulation of stressful life events can also bring on depression. Stressful events include situations such as unemployment, financial worries, serious difficulties with spouses, parents or children, physical illness, and major changes in life circumstances.
While we cannot do much about the genes we have inherited, there are a number of things we can do to overcome depression, or to prevent us from becoming depressed. Your doctor may have suggested medication, especially in a severe depression. While taking medication can be of assistance in overcoming depression, there are other things you can do that will help overcome and prevent depression, such as working on the psychological treatment of depression.
CBT Therapy is one of the major therapies now recommended by medical experts and GP's, and has a strong evidence base to show significant improvements in Depression. So if your reluctant to take medication, get in touch or read more about how CBT could help you overcome Depression....
- What are the Pros & Cons of CBT Therapy?