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Depression and Its Causes

Updated on February 21, 2012

Depression is a psychological condition characterized by prolonged feelings of sadness. There are many causes of depression. The cause may be the death of a family member or friend, as a side effect of a medication, or various stressful family situations. Whatever the reason may be for the presence of depression in someone, it is important for this individual to receive the help needed to overcome it. Depression should never be ignored as that can have a disastrous effect not only on the self-esteem of the individual, but also on their life.

There are many theories on how depression presents itself but there are effects of depression that one person may experience but another will not. It is also true that what cause depression in one person may not necessarily cause depression in someone else. Some people describe their experience with depression as being at a dead end, or walking blindly and hopelessly to a destination unknown to them. The causes of depression vary and the length of time it may last differs in each individual.

Have you ever had any experiences with depression?

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The death of a family or friend can result in depression
The death of a family or friend can result in depression | Source

Depression Caused By Loss

The death of a family member, friend, or pet can be the cause of depression in some people. They may feel as if they cannot go on without the individual, animal, or maybe even the object. This is different from and must not be confused with grieving. The grieving period differs in length for each person. Each individual has their own way of grieving and while some grieving individuals may seem to be depressed it is not always so.

It is always difficult when someone who you love and care for dies, whether naturally or otherwise. It may be even harder if the death was preceded by conflict between the individuals. Having to see your loved ones struggle for their lives and health only to end up dead can send anyone reeling into a dangerous state of depression.

The loss of life is not the only type of loss that can cause depression. The loss of a job, wealth, or spouse (through divorce or separation) can trigger depression. When children have grown and moved out of the house the parents may become depressed due to the sudden "empty nest".


Genetics and Depression

People with a family history of depression may be at risk of being diagnosed with depression. The disorder may be the result of a genetic trait. For example, if one has a family member or close relative who has been depressed, it is more likely for them to develop the condition. In depression studies in twins, one identical twin is more likely to become depressed if the other is depressed, even if they are apart. This means there are external factors that contribute to depression in people who have a genetic predisposition. Despite the information available on genetics and depression, there is no known gene that can be linked to depression in relatives.

Chemical Reactions in the Brain

Some chemical reactions in the brain facilitate the communication between nerve cells. These are called neurotransmitters. Some neurotransmitters are responsible for registering mood. If they are not performing as they should, people may become depressed. A stressful lifestyle can lead to the under-performance of neurotransmitters that can cause depression.

Family Situations and Relationships

Domestic abuse or a very stressful family situation can cause depression in both adults and children. People depend on their families for love and support, and when they turn against you, you may feel hopeless. The worst part is that many people believe that issues within the family are so private, that when another family member is hurting someone, they must not discuss the issue or seek help from non-relatives.


Going through a divorce or separation can trigger depression in the partners, the children, or even in the parents of the partners. After all, they may see the split in the relationship as their failure to raise the person correctly and teach them how to manage in a relationship. On the other hand, maybe they may see it as a re-occurrence of what they had to go through.

There are so many events in relationships that can be the root of depression. This relationship does not always have to be with the opposite sex either. It might be with a family member, stranger, friend, or acquaintance. Regardless of who it may be, some relationships may be very unhealthy. Being neglected, put-down, embarrassed, disgraced, or ignored by people can cause depression. The relationship between parents and their teenagers can be one that is very fragile due to the different changes that take place in teenagers.

Homelessness can lead to depression
Homelessness can lead to depression

Living Situations

Violence in the community, poverty, and homelessness can all be contributors of depression. Worrying about where the next meal will come from, how the bills will be paid, the conditions of the home (or the lack of one), or even if your family will be safe throughout the night is enough to make anyone depressed.

Drug Use and Abuse

Drug use, whether legally or illegally, can cause depression. In some cases, depression is a side effect of the medication, and is may be caused by the chemical changes the drug causes in the brain. This triggered chemical change in the brain is the same reason for depression from drug abuse.

Many people take drugs to feel better or for recreational purposes. While drug use may cause feelings of happiness and invincibility, when that drug wears off, the individual may end up feeling even worse than before, eventually falling into depression.

Injury and Depression

Injuries to the head in which specific there is damage to parts of the brain may cause depression. The Hypothalamus Gland controls the pituitary gland, and the pituitary gland controls the output of hormones in the body. Some of the hormones released in the body affect our emotions, feelings of hunger and sleep.

There is no textbook rule for avoiding depression because there is no single cause. Besides this, the situations that trigger depression are different in everybody. The best thing to do to avoid depression is to maintain healthy relationships and a healthy lifestyle. You do not need to be on the lookout for depression, wondering if it is going to jump out at you. This will only stress you out and probably even make you depressed.


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    • Loi-Renee profile image

      Loi-Renee 5 years ago from Jamaica

      Happy Valentine's Day Cardisa!

      I'm glad I could be of help.

    • Cardisa profile image

      Carolee Samuda 5 years ago from Jamaica

      Wonderful! As someone who was depressed I made it my point of duty to do my research and this hubs is well presented with the facts. There are many other factors that can also contribute to depression too.

      Happy Valentine's Day!