When you have depression, it’s more than feeling sad. Intense feelings of sadness and other symptoms, like losing interest in things you enjoy, may last for a while. Depression is a medical illness – a condition – not a sign of weakness. And it’s treatable.
If you’re depressed, it might not be easy to figure out why. In most cases, depression doesn’t have a single cause. Instead, it results from a mix of things — your genes, events in your past, your current circumstances, and other risk factors.
In cases I handle depression is typically associated with brain injury. There is organic-based depression which is a result of insult to the brain itself and the chemical processes. Other depression, more psychological, can be serious as well. When one of my clients learns of their limitations, due to injury, and the process of trying to overcome them, depression becomes a factor. Both types are compensable but different in how they are proved.
The following are causes of depression commonly encountered:
- Biology. While we still don’t know exactly what happens in the brain when people become depressed, studies show that certain parts of the brain don’t seem to be working normally. Depression might also be affected by changes in the levels of certain chemicals in the brain, called neurotransmitters.
- Genetics. Researchers know that if depression runs in your family, you have a higher chance of becoming depressed.
- Gender. Studies show that women are about twice as likely as men to become depressed. No one’s sure why. The hormonal changes that women go through at different times of their lives may be a factor.
- Age. People who are elderly are at higher risk of depression. That can be compounded by other factors — living alone and having a lack of social support.
- Health conditions. Permanent Conditions such as cancer, heart disease, thyroid problems, chronic pain, and many others increase your risk of becoming depressed.
- Trauma and grief. Trauma, such as violence or physical or emotional abuse — even if it’s early in life or more recent — can trigger depression. So can grief after the death of a friend or loved one. Job changes, moving into a new home and other life changes can also contribute to depression.
- Changes and stressful events. It’s not surprising that people might become depressed during stressful times — such as during a divorce or while caring for a sick relative. Yet not as well known is that even positive changes — like getting married or starting a new job — can trigger depression.
- Medications and substances. We all take some medication at some point in our lives. Many of us take medication more or less for life. Many prescription drugs can cause symptoms of depression. Alcohol or substance abuse is common in depressed people. It often makes their condition worse.
People with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) often re–live the traumatic event in flashbacks, memories or nightmares. Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, PTSD, is an anxiety disorder that can develop after exposure to a terrifying event or ordeal in which grave physical harm occurred or was threatened. Traumatic events that may trigger PTSD – post traumatic stress disorder – include violent personal assaults, natural or human-caused disasters, auto accidents, falls, assaults, or military combat.
Other symptoms of post traumatic stress disorder include irritability, anger outbursts, intense guilt, and avoidance of thinking or talking about the traumatic ordeal. In a National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH)–funded study, researchers found that more than 40 percent of people with PTSD also had depression at one-month and four-month intervals after the traumatic event.