Depression: Causes and risk factors

Causes of depression

It is not known exactly what causes depression. However, several causes that make a person’s risk of depression increase, include:

  1. Genetic factors
    Most researchers suspect that genetics play a role in depression. If you have a parent or sibling with this condition, you are more likely to have it too.
  2. Chemicals in the brain
    This condition can be caused due to unbalanced levels of chemical compounds in the brain (neurotransmitters) that regulate mood. This can lead to a series of symptoms known as clinical depression.
  3. Environmental factors
    This mental disorder can be caused by things that are encountered everyday, such as work. Stacked work, an uncomfortable work environment, to personal problems with bosses or coworkers can trigger a person to experience depression. Not only work problems, the environment at home or unsupportive friendships can also trigger this condition.
  4. Severe and chronic stress
    Losing a loved one, having troubled relationships, or being under constant stress can all be causes of depression. Researchers suspect that persistently high levels of the hormone cortisol can suppress serotonin levels and eventually trigger symptoms of depression.
  5. History of certain diseases
    Often, the stress and pain of chronic illness can trigger major depression. Certain diseases, such as thyroid disorders, Addison’s disease and liver disease, can also cause symptoms of depression.
  6. Childhood trauma
    Trauma in childhood has a great influence on a person’s psychological condition as an adult. Some bad events such as sexual harassment, loss of a parent, or the effects of a parent’s divorce can trigger this condition

Depression risk factors

Depression is more common in adolescence, around age 20 or 30. However, this condition can occur at any age. Women are diagnosed with depression more often than men, but this could be because female sufferers seek help and treatment more often.

Factors that increase the risk of or trigger depression are:

  • Have a family history of mental health disorders, such as anxiety disorders, eating disorders, or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
  • Abuse of alcohol or illegal drugs.
  • Some personality traits, such as low self-esteem, dependence, self-critical or pessimistic.
  • Chronic or serious illness, such as cancer, stroke, chronic pain, or heart disease.
  • Take certain medications, such as some high blood pressure medications or sleeping pills (discuss with your doctor before stopping the medication).
  • Traumatic or stressful events, such as sexual assault, death, or loss of a loved one or financial problems
  • Blood or genetic relationship with people with depression, bipolar disorder, alcoholism, or attempted suicide.

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