Depression Chapter 10

Causes of Depression


Who’s at Risk?

Who is most likely to develop depression? Depression can occur at any age, although it’s most common in individuals in their twenties and thirties. Race, education, marital situation, and socio-economic status also affect a person’s risk for depression. Unsurprisingly, poverty is associated with an increase in risk, although depression occurs at all economic levels of society. READ MORE

Women are at much greater risk for depression as men—about twice as much, in fact. This may be related to the fact that men synthesize the neurotransmitter serotonin at a much higher rate than women. Lower serotonin levels are associated with depression. LESS


Causes of Depression

What sets off a major depressive episode? There is no single cause: a multitude of factors can lead up to a case of clinical depression. One factor may be environment; that is, past or current traumatic events. People who are susceptible to depression may be less able to cope with these events than other people. Your genetic makeup may also increase your susceptibility to depression. READ MORE

Once you have had clinical depression, you are more likely to have it again. About 50% of those who have had one depressive episode will have another within 5 years. In addition, the more episodes of depression someone has had, the more likely it is that he or she will have another. This is called the kindling effect. LESS


Risk Factors for Depression

Risk factors for depression include:

  • Genetics. Depression can run in families for generations

  • Death or loss of a loved one

  • Major events like moving or retiring; even events that have been happily anticipated, like graduating from school, getting a new job, or having a baby

  • Other mental illness such as schizophrenia, anxiety disorders, and eating disorders

  • Substance abuse. Almost 30% of people who abuse substances have major or clinical depression

  • Abuse. Being abused physically, sexually, or emotionally as a child or adolescent can cause depression later in life

  • Medications. For example, some drugs used to treat high blood pressure, such as beta-blockers or reserpine

  • Serious illnesses such as AIDS, cancer, and cardiovascular disease, in part because of the physical weakness and stress they create

  • Other personal problems like financial troubles and social isolation


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