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Beyond brain chemistry
Causes of depression
Moodletter provides information, hope and help to people living with depression, anxiety or bipolar disorder and those who care for them.
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More than just the result of brain chemistry, the causes of depression are complex. Very often a combination of genetic, psychological and environmental factors is involved. At times, however, depression occurs for no apparent reason. Regardless of the cause, depression is almost always treatable.
Genetics, family history
Genetic makeup can be a factor, but the vulnerability to depression could also be the result of nurture rather than nature: Family members may live in the same environment, share similar values and be subjected to similar stressors.
The death of a loved one is one of the most powerful life stressors. Parental neglect or abuse, major family or work changes, a serious loss or financial problems can also be stressful enough to trigger a depressive episode.
Distorted interpretations of stressful events may be internalized, exaggerated or seen as irreversible: "This event will change everything," "This is all my fault," or "I'll never be able to recover from this."
Negative thinking by itself cannot cause depression. But, in combination with mildly depressed mood and adverse life events, a downward spiral can lead to depression or cause a recurrence of depression.
Take care of yourself
You are not your depression. You are a person who is coping with it.
Page updated March 1, 2010