In my life I have run into people who think depression is just someone who is simply sad, and that the chemicals in our brains could simply balance themselves out quickly, and nothing would be wrong anymore. There are even people that say it is just a way for people to get attention, and is no big deal. These are people who have never had to deal with depression most likely. After little research anyone can find that, according to medical professionals, not only are there many causes of depression, but also many forms it can take. Some of which people might not think of as normal depression, since side effects other than being gloomy are not widely known.
There is no universal cause for depression, it is a case by case basis that it has to be diagnosed, as anyone can become depressed in different ways. It can be genetics, a traumatic personal experience, the time of year, or a number of other things, but either way it will influence the person’s life in some way. This influence can range from severe to moderate, “Symptoms may include everything from hopelessness and fatigue to physical pain.” says Chris Iliades. He goes on to say, “Depression can cause a variety of emotional and physical changes, including weight gain or weight loss, insomnia, and chronic pain.” However, when depression is affecting your life it feels significant no matter what symptom you are exhibiting. “Depression may feel bad because brain separation-distress systems create psychological pain,” says Jaak Panksepp and Douglas Watt in a study about why depression causes people to feel so bad.
When it comes to the causes of depression, many explanations exist for all the types of depression. It is not always just one event that traumatizes someone to be depressed, although this can happen. In the cases of people who have a major surgery or survived a near death experience, depression can take hold due to stress. We have all encountered stress before in life, it is a series of chemicals in your body being released to different places in order to trigger different responses, and it is a natural part of being human. According to Harvard Health Publishing, corticotrophin-releasing hormone (CRH) is the first hormone to start the process of stress. They also state that, “Studies have shown that people who are depressed or have dysthymia typically have increased levels of CRH.” Meaning that when someone has become depressed after going through a stressful life event, it could be as simple as taking antidepressants to overcome it. However, “Certain events can have lasting physical, as well as emotional, consequences,” Harvard Health Publishing says. This is because when CRH occurs in higher than normal quantities in people with depression, it messes with the body’s natural response to stress. Meaning the root of some diagnosis for depression can set in later in life if childhood loss or trauma occurs. “Every hospital patient can suffer from depression because every one is threatened by illness,” states Mary L. Smith, she goes on to say, “whether or not a patient reacts to it by becoming depressed depends on both the actual severity of the threat itself and the patient’s perception of it.” These two studies show that if someone is dealing with a high amount of stress, it can be the beginning of depression.
Another form of depression, Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), can come and go every year for some people. This starts at the beginning of winter, when there is less sunlight reaching us. The lack of light for some people is enough to cause symptoms of depression. The Harvard Health Publishing article says, “Symptoms are similar to general depression and include lethargy, loss of interest in once-pleasurable activities, irritability, inability to concentrate, and a change in sleeping patterns, appetite, or both.” So, while this seems like someone is just sad as the name of this form of depression would suggest, it is not the case. These are real problems causing a burden on the people dealing wit
h SAD, which is up to 6% of the population according to Chris Iliades. Other than waiting for spring time to come, the most common way of treating SAD is by exposing the person to more light, which is the easiest way of getting rid of any form of depression.
A more long-term form of depression is dysthymia, which can last years. While this type is not known for causing severe depression, it will restrict how the person is able to go about life. Not being able to enjoy certain moments or being too irritable to have fun with others can impact quality of life in a major way. As the person is not able to have fun or find excitement in things they want to do, they are not able to experience life as it should be in their eyes. Dysthymia is most effectively controlled and improved through talk therapy, although the added use of medications has shown to be the greatest improvement according to Chris Iliades.
With all the professionals do know about depression and its causes, in Researching the Cause of Depression: Reason for Optimism, Sophie Zeman states, “interaction between genetic and environmental aetiological factors is obviously highly complex–we will be able to refine our knowledge of the former as the human genome is further mapped.” Explaining that there is still so much we do not know. For instance, she also says, “Genetic factors underlie depression in a complex manner, but the biologists agree that we are looking at an inherited liability to develop depression in response to environmental stressors rather than an entirely genetically determined condition.” While we do know genetics play some role in causing depression, it is apparent it is not as important as other social or environmental factors in life. Not only do the uncontrollable parts of life play a part, but the decision we make all the time can lead to or prevent depression. What we put in our bodies is a big part in not only our physical health but our mental health as well, alcohol and other drugs can cause people to become depressed. Even the amount of money someone makes, or doesn’t make, can lead to symptoms of depression. However, these are all parts of depression that we still do not fully understand, still being researched. The cause of depression is dependent on not only the type of depression the person is dealing with, but the metal ability to deal with any situation that may lead to depression.
“Depression (Major Depressive Disorder).” Edited by Sandhya Pruthi, Mayo Clinic, Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research, 3 Feb. 2018, www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/depression/diagnosis-treatment/drc-20356013.
This gives an overview of depression, and information for people that may be dealing with depression. It lists different types, treatments, and how to handle dealing with the disease. I am using this source for the descriptions of some forms of depression. This website is used by many health publications and newspapers to get information about certain diseases, as the writers are MDs in the fields they write on.
Iliades, Chris. “9 Different Types of Depression.” EverydayHealth.com, Everyday Health, 5 Jan. 2018, www.everydayhealth.com/depression-pictures/different-types-of-depression.aspx.
This article goes over the types of depression and gives some statistics on the exact form of depression it is talking about. I used this for more descriptions of different types of depression, as well as the stats it provides. This is a reliable writer that is an MD and the article was reviewed by another MD.
Panksepp, Jaak, and Douglas Watt. “Why Does Depression Hurt? Ancestral Primary-Process Separation-Distress (PANIC/GRIEF) and Diminished Brain Reward (SEEKING) Processes in the Genesis of Depressive Affect.” Psychiatry: Interpersonal and Biological Processes, vol. 74, no. 1, 2011, pp. 5–13., doi:10.1521/psyc.2011.74.1.5.
This source discusses the neurological causes of pain, both physical and mental, as a result of depression. I used this source to show different physical outcomes of depression that can cause physical pain or discomfort, to show that depressions is a serious disease. This is a peer reviewed scholarly journal, with many other sources to back up its findings.
Smith., Mary L. “You See It – But What Do You Do About It?” Nursing, vol. 8, no. 9, 1978, pp. 42–45., doi:10.1097/00152193-197809000-00009.
This goes over the fact that anyone going through surgery, is at risk of going through depression depending. It says that the symptoms could be the opposite of other patients because that is how different people react to the feeling depression can cause. I used this source to show that anyone can be affected by depression. This is a scholarly article written by a nurse, for the use of other nurses to identify and react to signs of depression in their patients.
Zeman, Sophie. “Researching the Causes of Depression: Reasons for Optimism.” International Review of Psychiatry, vol. 8, no. 4, 1996, pp. 403–407., doi:10.3109/09540269609051555.
The purpose of this source was to explain how far we have come in researching depression, and also how far we have to go. It goes over the older finding as well from the later 1900’s that are still relevant to biologists and such today. I used this sources to explain how both genetics and what we live through play a role in depression.
Image 1: https://www.divorcedgirlsmiling.com/woman-leave-depressed-husband/
Silhouette of depressive man behind matted glass. In B/W: https://www.divorcedgirlsmiling.com/woman-leave-depressed-husband/