Search For A Cure
Scientific Breakthroughs & Caregiver Tips
What Causes Depression?
Doctors and researchers have not yet determined exactly what causes major depression, but they have identified several risk factors that increase the likelihood that an individual will develop the disorder.
- Genetic Predisposition. People with a family history of depression are three times more likely to be diagnosed with major depression than those with no family history of the disorder. Researchers have begun to identify genes that may play a role in the development of depression, but the exact genetic mechanism that makes some people more prone to developing the disorder has not yet been pinpointed.
- Biological Causes. Some hormonal imbalances, such as the abnormal levels of cortisol experienced by sufferers of Cushing’s Disease, have been linked to depression.
- Environmental Risk Factors. While poor sleep habits are a common symptom of major depression, there is some suggestion that lack of adequate sleep may also be a risk factor for developing depression.
- Drug Abuse. Excessive alcohol consumption or the abuse of drugs or other substances often occur in tandem with major depression.
- Other Illnesses. Chronic severe illnesses such as Parkinson’s disease, diabetes, heart disease, obesity or chronic pain are very often accompanied by major depression. The depressive moods may be caused by the effects of the disease on the patient’s life, or they may be caused by biological changes that occur in the patient’s body as part of the disease.
Social Risk Factors. Major life events, such as divorce, unemployment, or the loss of a loved one often trigger the onset of depressive symptoms.
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