Tuesday, December 15, 2009

What causes depression?

There are many possible causes of depression. You may have an increased risk of experiencing depression because of your particular biological make-up. On the other hand, depression is also related to what is happening in your life, and the kind of support you receive from others.

There is some evidence that depression seems to run in families, but there is no single gene which causes depression.
A family history of depression may increase the risk, but this may be because of difficulties the family has in coping, and it certainly does not mean that depression is inevitable.

Changes in the brain
We know that depression is associated with changes in the activity of certain brain chemicals, known as neurotransmitters, which affect our mood and thinking. These chemicals, such as serotonin, are also affected by factors such as activity and exercise.

Childhood experiences
Past experiences which may be difficult or traumatic, such as losing a parent when very young, can affect your ability to cope with difficult situations. Children who experience abuse or lack of affection are also more at risk of experiencing depression in later life.

An episode of depression can be ‘triggered’ by stressful things that happen in our lives, particularly events involving a loss of some kind - such as unemployment, leaving home, death of a family member or friend.

Styles of thinking and coping
People who are depressed tend to think about bad experiences in ways that make them even more difficult to manage. If you have had bad experiences in the past, which you were unable to control, you may develop a ‘hopeless’ way of thinking.
Feeling ‘trapped’ in a difficult situation or experiencing a feeling of humiliation can also lead to negative thinking and depression.

Health & illness
We all tend to feel miserable when we are ill. But long-term health problems, which prevent someone from leading their usual life, may lead to depression.

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