Depression can be triggered by a wide range of events, situations, circumstances or factors - it is different for everyone. In reactive depression, the onset of negative emotions may be triggered by upsetting or stressful life events such as illness, divorce, job or money worries. For other types of depression there may be no obvious cause. It is therefore important to try and identify and understand the possible triggers of person's depression and other factors that may be contributing to its severity. This will assist in diagnosing and treating the illness.
Because of the number of different causes and factors of depression, there are three broad groups of causes that are identified by the NHS (2009):
- Psychological - This is where a stressful or upsetting life event causes a persistent low mood, low self-esteem and feelings of hopelessness about the future.
- Physical or chemical - Depression is caused by changes in levels of chemicals in the brain. For example, your mood can change as hormone levels go up and down. This is often seen in women as it is associated with the menstrual cycle, pregnancy, miscarriage, childbirth and menopause.
- Social - Doing fewer activities or having fewer interests can cause depression, or may happen because of depression.
Depression emotions are different for everyone. It is important to understand the triggers of depression and why you react the way you do.
What stresses you out in everyday life or makes you feel down?
Depression can be triggered by a combination of events and can also be influenced by a number of factors. Depression is rarely caused by one single event, but rather a combination that trigger the illness. Some of the common factors that contribute to the illness are listed below:
- Family history - if you have a family history of depression, you have an increased chance of getting depression yourself. Studies have shown that different versions of the 5-HTT gene can be inherited, which can have an effect on a natural mood-changing chemical in your brain called serotonin. According to the NHS (2009), about 20% of people have got what gene specialists call the 'short' version of the 5-HTT gene, and it is these people who are more likely to develop depression after a stressful life event.
- Trauma or stressful events - such as bereavement, financial worries, relationship breakdown can bring on depression. Major changes in your life, like starting a new job, graduating from school, or getting married can also contribute to depression.
- Grief - can be one of the triggers of depression, however grief is a natural response to a loss will depression is an illness. If grief becomes a constant state and a person can not find any enjoyment in life, this may be the result of depression.
- Pessimistic personality - people who have low self-esteem and a negative outlook are at higher risk of becoming depressed. These traits may actually be caused by the low-level depression condition called dysthymia (Depression.com, 2009)
- Physical conditions - serious medical conditions like heart disease and cancer can contribute to depression due to a weakened mental and physical state. Depression can sometimes be caused by the medications used to treat medical conditions.
- Drinking excess alcohol or using recreational drugs - is dangerous for your general health and can also contribute towards the negative emotions of depression.
- Taking some types of prescription medication - for example, propranolol can sometimes cause depression.