Depression isn’t a simple condition with a known cause. Some people are more susceptible to depressive episodes while others are not. It’s important to discuss symptoms with your doctor. There are several possible causes of depression.
Depression may be an inherited condition. You may have a higher likelihood of experiencing a depressive disorder at some point in your life if you have a family member with depression. The exact genes involved are not known. It’s believed that many genes may play a factor in causing depression.
Some people have noticeable changes in their brains with depression. Even though this potential cause isn’t understood, it does suggest depression starts with brain function. Some psychiatrists look at brain chemistry with cases of depression.
Neurotransmitters in the brain — specifically serotonin, dopamine, or norepinephrine — affect feelings of happiness and pleasure and may be out of balance in people with depression. Antidepressants work to balance these neurotransmitters, mainly serotonin. How and why these neurotransmitters get out of balance and what role they play in depressive states isn’t fully understood.
Changes in hormone production or functioning could lead to the onset of depressive states. Any changes in hormone states — including menopause, childbirth, thyroid problems, or other disorders — could cause depression.
With postpartum depression, mothers develop symptoms of depression after giving birth. It’s normal to be emotional because of the changing hormones, but postpartum depression is a serious condition.
As daylight hours get shorter in the winter, many people develop feelings of lethargy, tiredness, and a loss of interest in everyday activities. This condition was called seasonal affective disorder (SAD). Now it’s known as major depressive disorder with seasonal pattern. Your doctor may prescribe medication or a light box to help treat this condition. The condition also usually goes away once the days get longer.
Trauma, a big change, or struggle in life can trigger a case of depression. Losing a loved one, being fired, having financial troubles, or undergoing a serious change can have a big impact on people.