Depression is one of the most common mental disorders in the United States, and it can affect anyone of almost any age. While the exact cause of depression is not always known, there are a number of suspected causes that may contribute to its development. These include genetics, brain chemistry, life events, medical conditions, and lifestyle factors. For some people, a disruptive or stressful life event, such as grief, divorce, illness, dismissal, and work or financial concerns, may be the cause.
Most people take the time to accept stressful events, such as grieving or the breakdown of a relationship. When these stressful events occur, the risk of becoming depressed increases if you stop seeing your friends and family and try to solve your problems on your own. You may be more vulnerable to depression if you have certain personality traits, such as low self-esteem or being too self-critical. This could be due to the genes you inherited from your parents, your early life experiences, or both.
Feelings of loneliness, caused by things like being apart from family and friends, can increase the risk of depression. You may be at higher risk of depression if you have a long-term or life-threatening illness, such as coronary heart disease or cancer. It is often said that depression is the result of a chemical imbalance, but that way of speaking does not capture the complexity of the disease. Research suggests that depression doesn't just come from having too much or too little of certain chemicals in your brain.
Rather, there are many possible causes of depression, including faulty mood regulation by the brain, genetic vulnerability, and stressful life events. A number of these forces are thought to interact to cause depression. Estimates suggest that depression is approximately 40% determined by genetics. Studies of twins, adoption and family have linked depression to genetics. While studies suggest that there is a strong genetic component, researchers are not yet sure of all genetic risk factors for depression.
It is important to remember that no single cause of depression acts in isolation. Genetics can increase your risk, and environmental influences can determine your likelihood of developing depression. The disease is related to depression in two ways. The stress of having a chronic illness can trigger an episode of major depression. In addition, certain diseases, such as thyroid disorders, Addison's disease, and liver disease, can cause symptoms of depression. Stressful life events, which overwhelm a person's ability to cope, can also be a cause of depression.
Researchers suspect that high levels of the hormone cortisol, which are secreted during periods of stress, may affect the neurotransmitter serotonin and contribute to depression. Researchers suspect that there are actually many different causes of depression and that it can't always be prevented. It is important to understand the potential causes so that you can take steps to reduce your risk and seek help if needed.