Depression Causes & Risk Factors

Published: February 5, 2012

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What Are the Causes?

The precise cause of clinical depression is unknown, and people experience symptoms for a variety of reasons. In part, symptoms can be related to a specific event. A person might feel sad for an extended period of time when coping with a difficult or traumatic situation such as an illness, injury, or death of a loved one. Other people may experience depression for no reason at all for a prolonged period of time. Over time, a person's depression may worsen or improve as a result of medications, therapy, or for no reason at all.

Each symptom can be related to a different cause. Fatigue may be related to a physical condition, and feelings of hopelessness may result from a disturbing event.

Sometimes, it is difficult to determine whether depression caused the symptom or whether the symptom occurs because of depression. For example, someone with an injury may feel lethargic. As a result, that person might feel depressed. The causes and symptoms are interrelated and sometimes difficult to distinguish from one another. For this reason, it is important that you are honest with your doctor about your symptoms.

There are four reasons for depression:

Physical: It is believed that low levels of the neurotransmitters serotonin, norepinephrine, and dopamine contribute to depression. Nerve connectivity depends on neurotransmitters. With low levels of neurotransmitters, the nerves cannot function properly, and depression may occur as a result. The neurotransmitters also control energy and alertness.

Psychological: Negative emotions and experiences can result in depression. People might suffer from low self-esteem, a self-defeatist attitude, or a distorted perspective.

Social: Poverty and social isolation are linked with depression in addition to a variety of other problems. It is not unusual to feel depressed when you are lonely or experiencing economic hardship.

Drug & Alcohol Use: Drugs and alcohol affect the chemistry in your brain. As a result, drugs and alcohol can cause intense psychological symptoms.

Who's at Risk?

Anyone can experience some form of depression for some reason. It is a condition and situation that affects people of all kinds of people of all races, genders, and socioeconomic situations.

Depression is an extremely personal condition that caused by a variety of reasons. You may be at risk for depression is you have a family history of the condition. You might feel depressed because of certain medications, such as prescription muscle relaxants.

You might feel depressed because of a certain situation. A death of a friend or family member, financial hardship, and an unhealthy professional situation are all legitimate explanations for depression.

For some people, symptoms of depression might disappear without treatment. For most people, some form of treatment is necessary. People who do not see a doctor are at risk for feeling worse. As a result, it is important that you see a doctor as soon as possible.

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