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What Causes Depression?

Post written by BFH Staff Writer on May 16, 2023
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What Causes Depression? Depression is a mental health condition affecting millions of people worldwide. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), over 264 million people of all ages have depression globally. While it is a common mental health condition, the causes of depression are not fully understood.

This article will discuss the various factors that can contribute to depression.

Causes of Depression

 

Genetics

Research has shown that genetics plays a significant role in the development of depression. Studies have found that if you have a family member who has depression, you are more likely to develop the condition yourself.

 

Recent studies have identified specific genes that may increase the risk of developing depression. One of these genes is called the serotonin transporter gene, which regulates the neurotransmitter serotonin level in the brain. Serotonin is a chemical messenger that helps to regulate mood. An imbalance of serotonin levels in the brain can cause depression.

 

It has also shown that variations in the gene coding for the brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) protein are associated with an increased risk of depression. BDNF is a protein that supports the survival and growth of neurons in the brain. A low level of BDNF can cause depression.

Brain Chemistry

Another factor contributing to depression is an imbalance of certain chemicals in the brain, including serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine. These chemicals regulate mood, and an imbalance can lead to sadness, hopelessness, and other symptoms of depression.

 

Life Events

Stressful life events such as divorce, job loss, or the death of a loved one can also contribute to depression. Studies have found that people who experience these life events are more likely to develop depression than those who don’t.

 

Medical Conditions

Chronic illnesses like cancer, diabetes, and heart disease can cause physical and emotional stress, eventually leading to depression. Some medications that treat these conditions can also cause depression as a side effect.

 

Substance Abuse

Alcohol and drugs can disrupt the chemical balance in the brain, leading to symptoms of depression. Social research also shows that people struggling with substance abuse may experience financial and legal stress. These factors can be additional forces to trigger depression.

 

Social Factors

People who experience social challenges such as poverty, isolation, and discrimination are more likely to develop depression. Social support and empathy can play a crucial role in recovering patients who fall under this category.

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