Most of us would have experienced depression at some point in our lives. Though most of us may consider depression to be an emotional reaction, in real life there are more complex causes of depression. The following paragraphs contain a list of 5 of the important causes of depression.
These causes can be grouped as :
1. Genetic or Hereditary
In some families, depression seems to run across generations. Such cases are hereditary and it is believed that a particular chromosome may be the culprit. This matter is still under research and no particular chromosome has been identified yet.
2. Biological / Biochemical / Medication
Certain illnesses or medical conditions can also cause depression. These are – hormonal disorders (for example perimenopause or hypothyroidism in women), cancer, heart disease leading to a stroke, diabetes, Parkinson’s disease and Alzheimer’s disease. A long-term illness that goes on for years is also a cause of depression. Advanced age combined with various illnesses can lead to manic depression. Some people may suffer from multiple illnesses at the same time. This can tire the body physically, and the mind emotionally, resulting in depression.
Sometimes the cause of depression is biochemical. The human body’s chemical balance can get disrupted due to various factors resulting in depression. When there is an imbalance in the level of chemicals which act as neurotransmitters in the brain, it can cause depression.
Certain medicines that we take to cure illness can themselves become a cause of depression. Some examples are – medication to control seizure (for example Neurontin and Lamictal); medication to control blood pressure; sleeping pills to induce sleep; antibiotics to control the spread of infection, can all induce depression in people using these medicines.
However, a factor that cannot be overlooked here is substance abuse or drug abuse that often leads to depression. Self-medication which is considered as drug abuse often leads to depression. Alcohol, which people take to feel better, can lead to depression if taken in large quantities or when a person becomes addicted. Elderly people are more likely to become depressed when under medication, than young people are.
Many people across the world do not have access to a proper diet and their daily intake of nutrients, proteins, vitamins and minerals remain deficient. They are at a high-risk category. Deficiency of Folic Acid and Vitamin B12 is related to the occurrence of depression. On the contrary, people who regularly consume rich food which makes them obese, also suffer from depression.
The onset of certain seasons also result in depression. These are commonly referred to as Seasonal Affective Disorder. The exact cause is reduced or increased amount of sunlight which disturbs the chemical balance of the body and especially the chemistry of the brain. This in turn causes either excess or inhibited production of mood controlling chemicals that can result in depression.
5. Socio Cultural Factors / Human Relationships / Personality / Situations
Social factors like discrimination based on sex, cast, religion and social strata are known factors that result in depression. Living and working under stressful social conditions; harassment of various forms; isolation, denial and violation of rights are other social causes of depression. Generally, those belonging to lower sections of society with limited access to health services are at a greater risk of becoming depressed than people belonging to other sections of the society. Similarly, older people living alone in a closed society, are at a greater risk of depression than others. Normally women are more susceptible to depression than men are in any society.
Cultural factors that impose various forms of restrictions, for example, on expression, communication, movement, diet etc. can lead to depression. Limited interaction that decreases awareness leading to an inability to learn ways to cope with various medical and physical conditions also leads to depression. Women are more likely to develop depression due to cultural factors that impose more responsibility on them than on men. With restrictions on movement and on links with the outside world, women are mostly ignorant about depression as well as of the many ways to cope with it.
Human relationships and behavior are major factors that are often the source of depression. Disgruntlement, seclusion, unruly and abusive behavior, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), bereavement and long-term illness of near and dear ones can all lead to depression.
Personality traits like pessimism, inferiority complex, hypersensitivity, conduct disorder,low self-esteem or a deep-rooted personality disorder as a result of disturbed childhood can all cause depressions. More women are affected due to these reasons than men are. When there is a combined effect of cultural factors and personality traits, the level of depression can be severe requiring long-term therapy.
Unfavorable situations that people face in their daily lives regarding job, income, family are all causative factors leading to depression.
All these causes may be act either individually or in combination and will lead to various levels of depression in human beings. Human brain is more developed than those of animals. It is capable of reacting to various stimuli. It is therefore logical that all human beings experience some degree of depression.