What Causes of Depression?

Causes of Depression

About the causes of depression
The cause of depression is still not fully understood, although enough is known to treat it effectively. The distinguishing feature is lowered mood, but why that happens is not understood. It is known that the levels of certain brain chemicals fall in sufferers from depression, but it is not known why. The end of the twentieth century saw three main theories to explain the cause of depression: social, psychological and biological.

The Social Theory
Some psychiatrists believe that underlying personality traits are reinforced in the sufferer by major adverse life events that the sufferer cannot withstand and is overwhelmed by.

The Psychological Theory
This can be subdivided into three main categories: psychoanalytical, behavioral and cognitive. The first theory, now largely discredited, is based on the idea that unconscious feelings of aggression towards another person may be turned inward upon the sufferer. The behavioral theory holds that the sufferer has learned that any action to improve life is pointless because too many adverse factors cannot be controlled. The cognitive theory suggest that the depressed person has low expectations and so puts the most pessimistic interpretation possible upon any situation.

The Biological Theory
Dominant is the last two decades of the twentieth century and continuing to be so in the twenty-first, this theory suggest that depression is no different from, say diabetes in that it results from a bodily irregularity – a brain chemical in the case of depression – that can be corrected with medication.

Other Causes of Depression
The immediate cause of Seasonal Affective Disorder (winter blues) is low light levels but why this should trigger depression is not fully understood. In postnatal depression, several stresses appear to act together: a previous history of depression, lack of emotional or practical support, a sick baby and – most significantly – plummeting levels of hormones.

Depression can also be caused by a number of prescribed drugs, including some for heat disease, steroids and decongestants, by some illnesses and infections and certain metabolic disorders.

The Downward Spiral
When someone is depressed, he may not feel up to doing very much, so achieves little if anything and then feels more depressed and worthless because nothing has been done. It is very easy to become trapped in this spiral and quite difficult to get out of it. It is important to value any positive actions, however small, and to realize that making an effort, not just the specific achievement, is valuable.