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The 5 psychological causes of depression, and its symptoms

The 5 psychological causes of depression, and its symptoms

August 14, 2022

Depressive disorders they form one of the most popular diagnostic categories. There are many people who, being psychologically ill, say they are "depressed" and, in general, use this concept as if it were to call the simple malaise that goes beyond physical pain.

However, sadness and depression are far from the same. The second is a disorder that must be diagnosed and that, in part, does not depend on the situations we are living in our work, family context or leisure time.

There are many factors that can lead to developing this kind of disorders; from the biochemical imbalances of the nervous system to which genetics predispose, to past learning and the way of evoking memories that have to do with our life trajectory. Next we will focus on this second type of motifs, the psychological causes of depression .


The psychology behind depression

It is clear that all psychological causes are, also, biological in a certain sense. At the end of the day, we would have to accept that our mind is something separate from the body, an idea totally rejected by science and that only corresponds to philosophical dualism.

However, when we refer to the existence of psychological causes of depression, we are talking about a type of pathological root that, although it occurs within the human organism, not only depends on the simple expression of genes and innate characteristics, but to understand it, we must consider the way in which interaction with the environment influences this biology.


Thus, the fact of having seen many close friends and family die during childhood is something that can only happen if we have a nervous system capable of processing these experiences and assume them as highly stressful and traumatic moments, but at the same time there is a component that it has to do with what happens in the environment , outside of oneself. Unlike imbalances in the production levels of neurotransmitters that have genetic causes, in this case our life experiences matter.

So ... what are those psychological causes of depression? Next we will see the main ones.

1. Pessimistic bias

There are ways of interpreting reality that lead us to constantly perform a pessimistic reading of the facts . For example, if we believe that all our apparent achievements are the product of luck and that all our failures are the consequence of innate characteristics that will always be in us and we will not be able to change, this contributes to our being more exposed to bad experiences.


It is, therefore, facts that have to do with our attribution style (the way in which we elaborate explanations about what happens), but also with the way in which we establish predictions about what will happen to us.

2. Lack of stimulation

One of the characteristics of depression is that under its effects people they become lacking in initiative and, in many cases, they are not even capable of experiencing pleasure (a phenomenon known as anhedonia). This has led some researchers to hypothesize that one of the psychological causes of depression is the lack of positive reinforcers (something like rewards for carrying out actions), after having gone through a period in which the person has become accustomed to them.

For example, if at the end of the university we find that we no longer have an exciting project that motivates us and gives us small rewards on a day-to-day basis, we may have problems finding new motivations and, after a while, this leads to emotional stagnation.

3. Attention management problems

This psychological cause of depression is closely linked to the first, and has to do with the tendency of our attention focus to always focus on those facts that make us feel bad. In certain contexts, people can learn to Fix all your attention on that which is painful , sad or that produces despair, as if there was a feeling of morbid fascination for them. In this way, little by little, the content of the thoughts becomes fixed in unpleasant experiences.

In addition, this partial vision of reality makes us live in a very distorted world that also does not change when the facts send us signals that the world is not as dark a place as we think. As we will have learned to focus our attention on the worst , also those contradictory facts will be manipulated unconsciously so that they fit in our vision of the reality, as it happened, for example, in the case of youtuber Marina Joyce.

4. Traumas linked to the past

Traumatic experiences, especially those that have to do with events that occurred during childhood (a vital stage in which we are especially sensitive to experiences) can leave a trace that is difficult to erase and that, over time, generates a reaction in a chain that leads to depression.

For example, having killed a pet by accident can leave your self-esteem badly damaged , create an aversion to the possibility of creating new affective bonds and make those traumatic memories appear as intrusive images at any time, making the onset of depressive symptoms more likely. The same could happen, for example, in cases of sexual abuse during childhood.

However, it should be noted that everything depends on the way in which these memories and situations are interpreted, since those experiences, by themselves, do not have to trigger depression in a deterministic way.

  • Related article: "Psychic traumas: concept, realities ... and some myths"

5. Tendency to obsessive thinking

The need to make our lives fit perfectly with certain mental schemes it is a characteristic of an obsessive style of thinking that, in addition to leading to constant perfectionism, can increase the risk of experiencing depression. The reason is that life hardly fits with these expectations of perfection.


Major Depressive Disorder Symptoms (August 2022).


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