Causes of Depression

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Causes of Depression

For some people, upsetting, or stressful life events, such as bereavement, divorce, relationship breakdown, illness, redundancy, and job or money worries, can be the cause. This is often known as ‘reactive depression’, where depression is a reaction to the event. It is also sometimes referred to as exogenous depression (‘exogenous’ is a Latin word that means originating outside the body). In other cases, depression does not have an obvious cause. This is called endogenous depression (originating within the body).

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As depression can have many causes, it is sometimes divided into three broad groups – psychological, physical and social.

  • Psychological – is where a stressful, or upsetting, life event causes a persistent low mood, low self-esteem and feelings of hopelessness about the future.
  • Physical or chemical – depression is caused by changes in levels of chemicals in the brain. For example, your mood can change as hormone levels go up and down. This is often seen in women as it is associated with the menstrual cycle, pregnancy, miscarriage, childbirth, and the menopause.
  • Social – doing fewer activities, or having fewer interests, can cause depression, or may happen because of depression.

There are also genetic causes for depression. For example if you have a family history of depression, you’re more likely to experience depression yourself. Read the genetic causes for depression page for further information.

There are a number of symptoms of depression including psychological, physical and social. If you are feeling depressed you are likely to identify with many of these points. Do you have a family history of depression? if you do, you are more at risk of developing depression yourself. Read our family history of depression link for further information.


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Adrian Sonnex and Joel Cantor have been awarded these quality standards, Adrian Sonnex is also a Acknowledged GHR Supervisor

Disclaimer: Results are not guaranteed and may vary from person to person.

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