What Causes Depression?

Women Couple

Have you ever wondered what causes depression? Now that we understand what depression is, it can be beneficial to become familiar with the causes of depression, as this may help us understand the illness and find ways to treat it. While psychologists, scientists, and other mental health professionals are yet to understand exactly what causes depression, there are a number of contributing factors usually associated with it. It’s crucial to understand that depression is a very complex illness. Many studies have shown that there are multiple possible causes of depression, and it is rarely attributed to just one factor within any one person. So, what are some of the contributing causes of depression? Download our Functional Tools For Overcoming Depression guide here –

Personal factors

Those with a history of depression within their immediate family have an increased risk of developing depression. This is due to genetic factors; however, no single gene is responsible. Rather, it is said to be caused by a combination of genes. In the cases of depression is “inherited” from family members, environmental factors can also play a role. For instance, a parent who is depressed on an ongoing basis may have a more negative emotional outlook which may impact a child, causing depression in the child in the future. This is also not to say that those who have a family history of depression will necessarily suffer from depression themselves.

Past abuse or trauma

Any past physical, sexual or emotional abuse can leave a psychological mark that lasts years, or even decades after the abuse occurred. This is especially relevant if the trauma hasn’t been appropriately addressed at the time, or if the trauma victim suppressed the trauma until much later as a coping mechanism. This can leave people particularly vulnerable to depression later in life.

Major life events

Major life events, such as the death of a loved one, a job redundancy, financial stress, relocation, or breaking up with a partner can significantly increase the risk of depression. When these major life events are not appropriately dealt with, they can be even more difficult to bounce back from.

Stress from other changes

Other events may become a depression trigger, due to the stress involved with major changes. Humans don’t always deal with change well. Even positive changes like starting a new job, getting married, or starting a new relationship can sometimes lead to stress and depression. Even though these events are positive, the individual may be dealing with new challenges, pressures and responsibilities. When change happens quickly, or when more than one of these events occur at once, this can exacerbate stress.

Man Staring Out Of Window

Serious illnesses

Ongoing medical conditions and serious illnesses, and the medications used to treat them also cause depression. These medical problems can cause an influx of concerns such as:

  • the financial implications of a serious illness
  • dealing with side effects from treatment
  • considering the potential for living life normally in the future
  • an uncertain prognosis about a sufferer’s own fate
  • concerns about how the illness is affecting friends and family

Understandably, this can cause ongoing stress which can cause depression. To add to this, some medications can directly trigger depression.

Substance abuse

The use and abuse of recreational drugs and alcohol can cause depression. Often a person may use substances to mask existing feelings of sadness or depression. While this may work in the immediate short term after the substances wear off, the depression will return and symptoms may even be aggravated. 

Pregnancy or postnatal stress

Hormonal changes during pregnancy often leave women susceptible to depression. Postnatal depression is very common. It affects about one in every seven women who give birth in Australia every year. It can happen within a few days or weeks of giving birth, but usually occurs within 12 months, and is most common after a mother has her first baby. Regardless of what causes depression, it’s important to understand that you are not alone, and there are many methods of treating it. In the long term, depression can actually cause a variety of complications, such as weight gain, substance abuse problems, panic attacks, relationship problems, and suicidal thoughts. The earlier depression is treated, the better. Even if you discover that you don’t have severe depression, it may be helpful to chat to someone to find strategies to navigate certain situations in your life or a particularly difficult period. If you think you or someone you know may be experiencing depression, read about the symptoms for depression hereor to learn more about depression, download our Functional Tools For Overcoming Depression guide here –

Alternatively, contact us today to start exploring our treatment options or simply to find out more information.

Emanuele Latino

Program Director & Psychologist

Emanuele Latino

Emanuele has a compassionate approach to clients’ struggles, in order to promote awareness and initiate together the transformative process. His treatment approaches range from Gestalt, Emotionally Focused Therapy, Dialectical and Cognitive Behaviour Therapy, EMDR, ACT, Neuropsychotherapy, Sensorymotor Psychotherapy and Cape Cod Model for Couple Therapy.