Depression - the causes


The Causes of Depression


Depression is not a sign of weakness or a character flaw.  There are many reasons why depression occurs.  For one person, it may be a particular life event triggering depression, e.g. trauma, abuse or bereavement.  For another, it may arrive after a series of events or life stressors that cumulatively overhwhelm the person and yet another might experience depression for no apparent reason. 

Depression is an issue that has and continues to be researched and there have been findings.


Genetic pre-disposition

Evidence suggests genes have a significant role in the development of depression.  Studies indicate that in 50% of major depression cases genes are the primary factor, while physical or psychological causes can account for the other 50%.



Bio-Chemical Factors 

The Human brain is a highly complex organ and our knowledge of it is still limited.   However, it is thought that stress may cause chemical messengers in the brain called neurotransmitters tp become disrupted - causing chemical imbalances.


Ill Health

Chronic, life threatening or unrelenting health conditions can be a major factor in the development of depression.  Illness can change the way a body functions and have a serious impact on a person's lifestyle, self-esteem, self-worth and self-image.



Compared to men, women are twice as likely to experience depression, due to among other vulnerabilities - biological and hormonal factors that are unique to the female experience and physiology - Pre-menstrual problems, pregnancy and infertility, post-natal issues, peri-menopause and menopause. 



As we grow older we may experience significant life changes and challenges.  For example, health related issues - disease, being prescribed medication, loss of mobility, chronic pain and possible cognitive decline.  Exiting the work market can have a serious impact on our sense of self and our purpose in life and we may feel lonely or bereft.  All of these factors may contribute to the development of depression.


Drugs and Alcohol

Recreational substance use and depression is common and may occur together at times.  Sometimes, people use drugs and alcohol (Which is a depressant) to pep themselves up or to escape the pain of their situation  Depressive symptoms can develop as a result of taking drugs or as part of withdrawal symptoms when drug taking stops. 



Bottom Line

  • There is no one single cause for depression.  Depression is a complex combination of many factors in relation to a person, their situation and unique vulnerabilites to developing depression.
  • Depression can be genetically inherited.
  • Stress, ill health, ageing and the use of drugs and alcohol may all be contributory factors in the development of depression. 




County Kerry

Deanah McCormack

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