While a lot of research has gone into depression and its causes, researchers have still not been able to pinpoint one certain factor that causes depression. As is with many other mental illnesses, multiple factors might cause it, like genetics, hormones, your brain chemistry or your life events. Read on below for a complete list.
It has been observed that depression is more common in those whose blood relatives have previously suffered from depression.
A change in the balance of hormones in the body might be a trigger or a cause of depression for some. These hormone changes could be a result of menopause, thyroid problems, or during and after pregnancy.
The brain contains chemicals called neurotransmitters that are likely to play a role in depression. Research has shown changes in the function of these neurotransmitters and how they interact with other chemicals in the brain could lead to an insatiable mood and could play a role in depression.
Financial loss, death of a loved one, abuse, loss of a job – all such things could also be a trigger to depression. It is also possible that positive major life events like moving out or getting married could also make you depressed.
Depression could have both short-term and long-term effects on the individual. In the short term, an individual could experience sadness, lack of interest/pleasure in activities, change in sleep patterns and appetite, and feelings of worthlessness and extreme guilt. Long-term effects include:
- Inability to maintain meaningful relationships
- Chronic pain
- Heart diseases
- Weight loss/gain
The human brain uses chemical messengers called ‘Neurotransmitters’ that help with communication between nerve cells in the brain. The gap between two nerve cells is called a synapse. Synapses connect one neuron to another and are responsible for the transmission of messages from the nerves to the brain and vice-versa.
Synapses also play a key role in memory formation. New research has increasingly shown that patients with depression have a reduced size of brain regions that control mood and cognition and decrease the synapses in these areas, which may lead to an imbalance in the brain. This is where antidepressants come into the picture.
When you feel stressed (as is commonly reported in depression), your body releases a hormone called cortisol. Known as the ‘stress hormone’, cortisol in regulated amounts is good for the body, An excess amount of cortisol from long-term stress leads to high blood pressure, blood sugar, and blood cholesterol – all of which put a heavy load on your heart.
Research has shown that depression, although it might not affect long-term memory, it can affect an individual’s short-term memory. Depression also causes confusion and forgetfulness in individuals.
Various studies have shown that patients with dementia possess a higher risk of depression and vice-versa. There is still no proof yet that depression causes dementia, Although, both could exist at the same time.
Research has shown depression has the ability to change the way you think, and regularly interferes with your current thoughts and focus. People with depression often find it difficult to concentrate on the simplest of tasks. Depression can impair the way you process information and your decision-making skills – all of which contribute to intelligence.
While the most common types of depression that are usually diagnosed is Major Depressive Disorder or MDD, there are other types of depression that people may experience depending on the cause of the depression, when it starts, what are the symptoms, and how long does it last for.