Mental health has come a long way in recent years. The taboo surrounding mental health has slowly diminished, opening up the doors for more research and discovery. Discussion and information around major depressive disorder, commonly just called depression, has come a long way. However, the exact cause of depression is still unknown. Scientists have theories and ideas about the causes, and while we may never know the exact causes these are the six factors that are the most common causes of risk factors in developing depression. And, identifying the causes of this disorder can help individuals get the effective depression help they need.
In psychology, there is a major debate over nature vs. nurture. Essentially, is our mental state caused by internal innate factors such as genetics, or is it caused by external factors like our environment? While doctors still aren’t sure what exactly causes depression, it is believed that genetics play a major role in whether someone develops it or not. Studies have shown that depression can run in families, and people with immediate family members that have depression have an increased risk of also developing it.
It is not uncommon for depression to co-exist with other major illnesses or to be triggered by another medical condition. Individuals with chronic or major illnesses, such as asthma, Parkinson’s or HIV/AIDS, may develop what is called “secondary depression”. This means that depression develops as a result of preexisting illness. These chronic illnesses change the quality of life, and this may be a contributing factor in secondary depression.
Most medications carry risks and side effects. Depression is one of these side effects for certain medications. Doctors warn patients about this ahead of time, and they urge patients taking it to report any depression symptoms or suicidal thoughts. If you begin taking any medication where depression may be a side effect, please keep a close eye on your mental health.
Did you know that nearly 30% of people with substance abuse problems also have major or clinical depression as well? Individuals that suffer from drug or alcohol addiction often also have depression and anxiety. Depression may develop before the addiction, and it’s not uncommon for people to develop an addiction in an attempt to self-medicate. It could also develop after, as a result of changes in brain chemistry or negative life events from the addiction.
Life can be challenging and complex. Major life events, even happy ones, can bring excessive stress into people’s lives. Events such as moving, graduating, starting a new job, starting a marriage, or having kids are positive moments. But, they can still lead to depression. Negative events, such as losing a job, going through a divorce, retiring, or losing someone you love can also cause depression.
A major risk factor in developing depression is experiencing some form of abuse. Abuse, either physical, sexual, or emotional, increases one’s risk of developing depression. Childhood abuse has an even higher risk factor, although depression may not develop until years after the event.
Since 2003, the Delray Center for Healing has provided exceptional psychiatric and therapeutic care for mental health, eating, and substance use disorders. To learn more about our philosophy and treatment approach, download our free e-book, “Psychiatry Redefined,” written by our founder and medical director, Raul J. Rodriguez, MD.