Causes of Depression
Depression does not have a single cause. Several factors or a combination of factors may contribute to depression. A person’s life experience, genetic inheritance, age, sex, brain chemistry imbalance, hormonal changes, substance abuse and other illnesses all may play significant roles in the development of depression.
People with a biological (family) history of depression may be more likely to develop it than those whose families do not.
People with depression are thought to have a different brain chemistry than those without the illness.
People with a pessimistic outlook on life and low self-esteem who are easily overwhelmed by stress are more likely to develop depression.
Women experience depression twice as often as men. While a specific explanation of this is unclear, hormonal changes in women that occur during menstruation, pregnancy, childbirth and menopause are thought to be possibilities.
Difficult life events or traumas such as emotional, physical, sexual or verbal abuse; continuous exposure to violence; financial problems or poverty; inappropriate or unclear expectations; maternal separation; family addiction; death of a loved one; neglect; divorce; illness; or racism may all contribute to depression.
During or After Pregnancy (Postpartum)
Depression may be associated with the delivery of a child. Studies show that 15-20% of new mothers and 10% of new fathers experience some form of perinatal mood disorder which occurs during pregnancy until up to two years after a baby is born, and includes depression, anxiety, psychosis, bipolar disorder, obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Postpartum depression is different from the “baby blues” both by its duration and debilitating effects.
Depression often coexists with other illnesses that precede, follow, cause or are a consequence of the depression. These include mental health conditions, substance use and serious medical illnesses.