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The main causes of depression

The main causes of depression

June 24, 2021

One of the most well-known and common mental disorders in our society is depression. Although this mood disorder is widely known, there is often little talk about its causes.

What is depression?

Depression is an affective disorder through which pain and psychological distress are expressed . This includes both psychic and somatic symptoms, so that in order to diagnose and apply the appropriate treatment it is essential to evaluate the patient's environment (family, work, sentimental or conjugal situation ...).

Depression is an acute clinical disorder that affects the brain. It goes beyond feeling "sunken" or "sad" some days, you have to differentiate sadness from depression. The essential difference is that sadness is a natural response to a painful stimulus, this expression of emotionally manifested pain is a necessary response mechanism. However, if the sadness lasts over time becoming chronic, without or with apparent cause and with a severe modularity, affecting the normal functioning of the patient in all areas of their daily lives, then we are referring to a depression.


Depression is not a natural response but it is a pathology that can lead to disability . Epidemiological studies reveal that, for example, in the United States, 20% of the population suffers from this disease.

What are the causes of depression?

The main causes of depression are due to genetic factors (genetic predisposition), which is why It is very important to evaluate if the patient has a family history .

Likewise, depressive symptoms can also be due to physiological factors, as well as to the personal situation and environmental causes. Next, we will explain each of these factors.

1. Genetic factors

If the presence of a history of depression is present in the immediate family (parents and / or siblings), this can increase the chances of suffering from this disease from 25% to 30% . There are studies with monozygotic twins (from a single zygote that divides in two after fertilization) that show that in one of the brothers the probability of suffering from depression increases up to 50% in the case of antecedents in the other. The probability, however, is considerably reduced in twins (dizygotic twins), up to 25% less.


As science advances in the field of genetics, have been found genes related to the predisposition that an individual is more or less susceptible to depression (as for example: SERTs short serotonin transporter gene). It is estimated that up to 214 genes may be involved with the risk of suffering from depression.

2. Physiological factors

Depression is related to the decrease of a neurotransmitter called serotonin , specifically in the dendrites that transmit the impulses of the axon of one neuron to the soma of another. For this reason psychiatrists sometimes use a group of drugs, the selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, whose function, mainly, is to increase the predisposition of the serotonergic levels of patients with depression, the most famous of them undoubtedly the one It is marketed under the Prozac brand whose active ingredient is fluoxetine.


Other medications can also be used, such as anxiolytics that act on another neurotransmitter: GABA (γ-aminobutyric acid), anxiety is considered to be the sister of depression and they are generally linked to a greater or lesser extent according to the picture, anxiolytic medications such as benzodiazepines are those that are most commonly prescribed.

Among other causes are the endocrine disorders , these are another of the most frequent causes with which depression is associated, among which diabetes and hyperthyroidism stand out.

3. Personal factors

It is proven that the prevalence of this disease is significantly higher in the case of women, especially during pregnancy and postpartum (DPP) due to hormonal variations.

Postpartum depression (PPD) is defined as a transient disorder that occurs between two and four days after delivery and that disappears spontaneously in a period of two weeks. There are two types of PPD, depression babyblues and the depressive disorder itself.

In medicine it is called babyblues to Mild impairment in the mood of the mother, with mild depressive symptoms . It is manifested by lack of concentration, anxiety, sadness, but above all by an instability of humor with great tendency to crying. It does not require treatment since it disappears spontaneously in a short time.

But nevertheless, In the case of PPD, the symptoms manifest at 12 weeks and present a more acute picture , both psychological and physical symptoms may occur, for example in the first case feelings of worthlessness, suicidal ideation or thoughts related to death may occur, and in the case of physical symptoms, these may include headache and intestinal discomfort between others. In this case if medical treatment is required.

Age is also a determining factor . The period between 35 and 45 years, is the highest incidence of this disease. Although it is also worth noting the depression in minors, mainly in the period of puberty and adolescence, age in which we experience very important hormonal changes while psychologically we define ourselves as people. In the case of depressive behaviors during childhood, it is necessary to pay more attention since it may have a manifestation very different from that of adults and is sometimes camouflaged under other types of disorders, however it is extremely important to pay special attention to the area family.

4. Environmental factors

Environmental causes are considered all those external stimuli that influence the person and that can act as catalysts of depression .

Negative situations, family and / or work, can produce stress and trigger depression, especially if the person has a history of alcohol dependence or drug use. The scarce relationship with other people, as well as the difficulty of communication and isolation are key factors that enhance the probability of an individual developing a depression.


10 Causes of Depression EVERYONE Needs To Know (June 2021).


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