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Understanding Depression

First of all, depression is NOT a weakness. Friends and family who keep saying "Snap out of it; You can if you

want to", and any other "encouraging" phrases, have no idea what depression is, and what you're going thru.

What causes depression?


We don’t know exactly what causes depression. Although we know that serotonin and norepinephrine are

hormones closely related to mood regulation, depression is not simply the result of a chemical imbalance,

because you have not enough of a particular brain chemical. A number of things are often linked to the

development of depression. It’s usually a result of a combination of recent events and other longer term or personal factors, rather than one immediate issue or event.

Nature & Nurture


Research suggests that biology AND life circumstances together, play a role in the development of depression.

The same way we all have our physical limitations, our emotional capacity, how much stress we can support, is also genetically programmed. When this amount is exceeded by life circumstances, we become depressed. 

Continuing difficulties, like long-term unemployment, living in an abusive or uncaring relationship, long term

isolation or loneliness, prolonged stress is more likely to trigger depression than recent life stresses. However,

sometimes recent events, such as losing your job, or a combination of recent events can trigger depression

if you’re already at risk, because of previous bad experiences or personal factors.

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  • Family history – Depression can run in families and some people will be at an increased genetic risk. However, having a parent or close relative with depression doesn’t mean you’ll automatically have the same experience.

  • Life circumstances and other personal factors are still likely to have an important influence.

  • Personality – Some people may be more at risk of depression because of their personality, particularly if they have a tendency to worry a lot, have low self-esteem, are perfectionists, are sensitive to personal criticism, or are self-critical and negative.

  • Serious medical illness – The stress and worry of coping with a serious illness can lead to depression, especially if you’re dealing with long term management and/or chronic pain.

  • Drug and alcohol use – Drug and alcohol use can both lead to and result from depression. Many people with depression also have drug and alcohol problems. Over one million Americans  will experience depression and a substance use disorder at the same time, at some point in their lives.


Psychotherapy


Psychotherapy – also called talk therapy – can help you to regulate your mood, and as incredible as it may seem, a mood habit can stimulate the growth of new nerve cells in circuits that regulate your mood, which is thought to play a critical part in recovering from the most severe episodes of depression. This is called "Brain Plasticity".

For more severe depression, Psychotherapy may not be effective enough, and antidepressants – that have an effect on your brain’s chemical transmitters (serotonin and noradrenaline), which relay messages between brain cells – might be prescribed by a psychopharmacologist.

Remember …


Everyone’s different and it’s often a combination of factors that can contribute to developing depression. It’s

important to remember that you can’t always identify the cause of depression or change difficult circumstances. The most important thing is to seek professional support.