The causes of depression – many, varied and hard to pin down

causes of depression - Sun and Fun

There are several factors that are generally considered to be causes of depression. But what actually causes depression in any given case may be any combination of some or all of those factors.

The factors that are ordinarily considered to be causes of depression are:

  • Genetic pre-disposition – something in your inherited genetic make-up makes you vulnerable to depression.
  • Physical factors – some physical complaints such as those associated with thyroid disorders or hormonal changes may lead to depression.
  • Chemical imbalance – this involves certain chemicals in the brain (neurotransmitters) that are thought to affect mood. It is believed that in depressed persons one or more neurotransmitters may fail to function as normal. (It is worth noting that whether this is a cause of depression is increasingly being called into question).
  • Stress – prolonged exposure to high levels of stress or an episode or episodes of acute stress can lead to depression.
  • Gender – in simple terms, more women than men develop some kinds of depression, but it is not clear whether this is entirely the result of biological gender differences or whether certain social factors may play a role.
  • Personality – people with certain personality types may be more likely to develop depression than others.
  • Life events – significant and traumatic events such as serious injury, loss or bereavement, especially in childhood, may cause long term changes that can lead to depression.

It is natural, when something is wrong, to want to find out the cause and take the necessary steps to eliminate that cause and prevent it re-occurring. The difficulty with identifying the cause or causes of depression is that it is almost never self-evident which one or more of the possible causes are operative in the individual case. This is especially so as depression will very often creep up over time, rather than occur suddenly.

The articles in this section of the site explore various aspects of these potential causes of depression.


the Black Dog Institute
the Mayo Clinic

Image: Sun and Fun by Martin Grover

Can Sleep Apnea Cause Depression?

Causes of Depression

This is a guest post by Shanna Laub. I’m pleased to publish this piece because it refers to some recent research about the link between sleep deprivation and depression. This is something that interests me, having noted from my own experiences that there appears to be a connection between sleep and depression. Having depression is […]

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Lack of sleep and depression: which is the cause and which the effect?

Causes of Depression

An interesting report on lack of sleep and depression caught my eye today. Insomnia is often cited as a symptom of severe depression, but is not usually said to be involved in causing depression. Although there was some earlier research from the University of Western Australia, which I looked at here on, which did […]

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Sugar and Depression, the Bittersweet Symphony of My Life

A Depression Blog

Sugar and depression. These were always two of my closest companions, the one always there picking me up and the other effortlessly dragging me back down. But it seems now that they might in fact have been closer companions to each other than they ever were to me. I’ve heard that they could even be […]

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6 of the Best Ways to Manage Stress – Tips for Staying Stress Free

Causes of Depression

The unchecked build up of stress is one of the major causes of depression. That is why I am very pleased to be able to publish here Kara Taylor’s post outlining 6 ways to manage stress. This piece contains some valuable stress relief tips that we’d all do well both to remember and put into […]

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