Causes of Depression
Family history – Clinical depression tends to run in families. From 20 – 25% of those who suffer from clinical depression have a relative with a mood disorder. It is unclear if this link is completely genetic; the tendency for depressive behaviors could be learned through the social dynamics of the family as well.
Grief – Death of a loved one, or other significant loss, can contribute to an episode of depression. Any person suffering from sadness or anguish that is debilitating past the amounts of time considered ” normal” for grieving, or grief that is persistent over two weeks’ time, should be examined for depression.
Major life events – Major events that occur in everyone’s lives, such as moving, graduating, changing jobs, having a baby, getting married or divorced, retiring, or other events requiring significant social adjustment may precipitate a depressive episode (even “positive” life events).
Serious or chronic illness – People diagnosed with chronic illnesses must adjust to the demands of the illness itself, as well as to the treatments for their condition. It may change the way a person lives, sees him/herself, and/or relates to others. Depression is one of the most common complications or chronic illness. The risk for depression increases with the severity of the illness and the level of life disruption it causes.
Certain medications – Some medications have been reported to cause depression in some patients. This is not a time that we recommend stopping any medication you are on, but rather discuss the change in your mood and overall mental alertness with your physician.
Substance abuse – Depression and alcohol and/or drug abuse often go hand in hand; some people with depression try to “drown their sorrows” by drinking more than usual or using drugs and other substances to reduce their pain and help them escape. Since alcohol is a depressant it only serves to worsen the depression. And the downward spiral begins…
Physical, sexual, or emotional abuse – Individuals who have been victimized by abuse may suffer from recurring psychological trauma if they have not been treated for the effects of that abuse. Depression may occur if the person is still in an on-going relationship with their abuser, and may feel hopeless and powerless to change the abusive situation.
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