When you or someone you love is suffering from depression, the natural question to ask is: Why? Why does this happen to some people and not others? Why are some people able to bounce back from spells of sadness and others are not? It can be a frustrating set of questions to try and answer. Doctors, scientists and researchers are still studying the brain and outside influencers to determine what exactly causes depression and whether it might be possible to stop it before it starts. Wondering what causes depression is completely natural, especially if you are depressed yourself.
What Causes Depression: Genetics
According to Stanford, genetics are an influence in depression. About half the depressed patients they studied had a family history of depression. If you have a close relative who has suffered from depression, it’s possible that your risk for becoming depressed is a little higher. There is a specific gene that has been identified as the “depression gene” which is strong in families where multiple members suffer from depression.
What Causes Depression: Brain Factors
Some brains do not produce enough serotonin. When that happens, you are more likely to become depressed. People with depression seem to feel better when the levels of serotonin are increased, and that leads researchers to believe that low levels can contribute to depression. The important aspect in considering serotonin and what causes depression is how to increase those serotonin levels naturally. Many of the antidepressants on the consumer market contain serotonin, but it’s better for the patient if the body can process serotonin naturally, rather than through powerful drugs.
What Causes Depression: Trauma
Sometimes, what causes depression is trauma or an unexpected life event that seems impossible to deal with. For example, the death of a loved one or a sudden financial catastrophe, a divorce or any major change that causes a feel of instability and panic. These life events can lead an otherwise healthy person to depression if there are no support systems in place and no healthy ways to cope with the loss or the devastation. Research has shown that 40 percent of people who suffer from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) are depressed.
What Causes Depression: Recognizing the Illness
Understanding what causes depression means knowing what happens when someone becomes depressed or falls into a depressive episode. There is often an overwhelming sense of sadness and a lot of anxiety or worry. This is because the brain is suddenly unable to manage the moods and the emotions that the body is experiencing. There might have been a stressful event to trigger the depression, and the brain is not quite sure about what to do. The chemical reactions in the brain and the rest of the body will fall off track, and that will contribute to a person’s sudden or chronic depression.
Nerve cells suddenly have a tough time communicating, and the specific areas in the brain such as the amygdala, the thalamus and hippocampus might malfunction. While most of the signs and symptoms of depression are seen externally, what causes depression are the things going on internally, on a biological playing field.
Early Signs of Depression
Understanding what causes depression requires an understanding of the early signs and symptoms of this disease. Treatment is absolutely necessary to combat and manage depression, and the earlier a person seeks treatment, the better his or her prognosis for recovery. Waiting too long to get help will only magnify and increase the effects of this disease. For that reason, identifying and responding to the early signs of depression is critical. It doesn’t help to know what causes depression if you’re not going to do anything to manage it.
Changes in mood, behaviors and appetite is an early indicator. This includes appetite changes, and a disruption in a normal sleep pattern. Maybe you are suddenly unable to sleep or it could also go the other way, and you’re inexplicably unable to get out of bed.
A lack of interest in daily activities is another early sign. Having no interest in work, friends, family activities or social groups can be a sign of depression.
There might be an expression of guilt or helplessness. A depressed person will feel unworthy of the love, support or company of others. When you’re thinking about what causes depression, you need to understand that it isn’t simply a case of someone feeling sorry for themselves. They really do feel unnecessary at many times.
Most people who are depressed suffer from symptoms such as restlessness, sadness, lack of energy, changes in habits and other things every day for a period of at least two weeks. That’s when you can be sure depression has set in, and regardless of what causes depression, action needs to be taken.
There are some specific types of depression that will have different sets of symptoms and signs. Major depression, for example, will come with a total shutdown. Also, bipolar disorder will include symptoms such as a complete cycle of moods that range from extremely high to devastating low points.
Understanding what causes depression makes it easier to identify and treat. If you notice any symptoms within yourself or the people you love, get help right away and develop a treatment plan. Early detection and intervention will make a huge difference in your ability to recover from and manage the illness.