Depression And Its Common CausesArfaq Hussain
Major Depressive Disorder
Depression is one of the most common mental health disorders not just in the UK but around the globe. It can affect anybody at any time in their lives as it does not discriminate against age. There can be many different causes of depression and many different factors can come into play such as genetics, imbalances in the brain, lifestyle choices, substance abuse and much more. Here are a few of the more common causes of depression:
Chemical Imbalances in the Brain
One potential cause of depression is biological and is an imbalance of neurotransmitters in the brain. This can cause a change in mood as neurotransmitters like dopamine, serotonin and norepinephrine are involved in mood regulation. These neurotransmitters help different areas of the brain to communicate with one another so when there are little of them it has a risk of clinical depression being developed.
While many believe this cause to be a major one, it still remains unproven and many experts still doubt that it is true. If it were to be true though it would mean that having too many or too few of certain neurotransmitters could lead to the development of depression.
While it is technically unproven, this hasn’t stopped medications that focus on altering the levels of neurotransmitters being developed to treat the medical condition. Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRIs) and Serotonin-Norepinephrine Reuptake Inhibitors (SNRIs) are both examples of antidepressants.
Research shows that you are more likely to develop symptoms of depression if other members of your family also have mood disorders like depression. This research involved adoption, twins and family studies and has managed to show that there is strong evidence proving that there is a genetic component which could lead to depression being developed.
It is still not known which genes are responsible but there are many of them that could be the culprit. There is no single cause for depression so it is important to remember that other factors are probably at play too such as environment.
Health and Conditions
You might be more at risk of depression developing if you suffer from conditions like insomnia/sleep disorders, chronic pain or chronic illness, anxiety and other underlying health conditions. Illnesses like liver disease and thyroid disorders can also bring upon symptoms that can trigger depression.
People going through a stressful life event such as change or a bad breakup etc. may become overwhelmed and find it hard to cope and experience depression at some point. This can be a cause of depression and it may be really hard for the individual suffering to recover from it. Research shows that hormones that are secreted due to during stressful times may affect the amount of serotonin that is created in the brain which can contribute to a higher risk of the development of depression.
People who have lost a loved one or friend may experience symptoms of depression as a result of grief. People who are coming to terms with a lost loved one/friend may find it difficult, and those who have a good chance of depression include; to eat, sleep and may even lose interest in sex and / or their normal activities. Most people deal with grief by accepting the loss and moving on with their lives. When this grief doesn’t subside it may become a cause or risk of depression developing.
The lifestyle a person leads can be another factor that could lead to the development of depression. If there are things in someone’s life that are causing them depression they should try and find out what they are and make a change. Lifestyle choices that could be causing depression may be the people a person chooses to be around, whether someone exercises and how often they do, the situations they put themselves in and more.
Drugs and alcohol can both cause symptoms of depression and even other health problems if they are not taken in moderation. Even some prescription drugs are known to have a link with the formation of depression. Examples of these drugs are benzodiazepines, stimulants, statins and corticosteroids.
Some people might take these substances to try and alleviate their depression but this is not effective. This is because the relief is only short lived as when addicts come back down their depressive symptoms are usually much worse. It’s a vicious cycle and people who have a substance abuse problem should see their GP to try and get themselves off whatever they are addicted to before it causes them to develop symptoms of depression.
Another factor of this could be that substances like alcohol and drugs can interfere with medications that are prescribed to treat depression. If somebody is suffering from depression already and ingest substances that interfere with their antidepressants it can stop them from making and in some cases might even play a role in making things worse. People should always speak to their doctor before taking substances with medication and should listen to their advice.
Poor nutrition can be another cause of depression that can be caused in several different ways. There are some vitamin and mineral deficiencies that are known to cause symptoms of depression.
It is also known that diets that contain a high amount of sugar can not only have a risk of other health conditions like heart disease, it can also be linked to the development of depression. It is important to have a healthy and balanced diet full of the right nutrition to avoid this and to lead a healthy life.
Spending time indoors and out of sunlight for long periods of time can interfere with a person’s circadian rhythm and can cause a drop in serotonin levels in the brain. Also, melatonin, a hormone that is produced that can make a person feel tired, is produced when in the dark so if someone’s rhythm is affected and they wake up late they may feel excess fatigue and find it hard to function normally.
Melatonin can be produced quicker during the winter when the days are shorter and it is darker sooner so seasonal changes can also be associated with depression.