Depression is a disease. It isn't caused by personal
weakness, and it isn't a character flaw. When you have depression, chemicals in
your brain called
neurotransmitters are out of balance.
Most experts believe that a combination of family history (your
genes) and stressful life events may cause depression.
- Genes: Your chance of having a bout of
depression is greater if other family members have had depression. You may have
inherited a trait that makes you more likely to get depressed. If this is true
for you, a stressful life event is more likely to trigger depression.
- Thinking styles: How you think can affect how you feel. You may be more likely to become depressed if you tend to:
- Think in extremes. For example, thinking, "If I can't do something perfectly, I might as well quit."
- Concentrate on your weaknesses and ignore your strengths.
- Take things personally that have little or nothing to do with you. For example, if your boss has a stern look on his or her face, you think "My boss must be mad at me, because he (or she) is not smiling."
- Pay attention to the dark side of things, or exaggerate the chances of a bad outcome. For example, thinking "If I make a mistake, I will be fired from my job."
- Life events: Stressful life events can trigger depression. For
example, you could become depressed if you have:
- Lost a loved one.
- Had a baby
(depression after childbirth).
- Been diagnosed with a long-term disease such as
Sometimes even happy life events, such as a marriage or
promotion, can trigger depression because of the stress that comes with
Just because you have a family member with depression or
have stressful life events doesn't mean you'll get depression. You also may get
depression without going through a stressful event.
Health problems also can cause
depression. For example, both
anemia and an underactive thyroid gland (hypothyroidism) can lead to depression. Treating the
health problem usually cures the depression.
narcotics, can cause depression. If you stop using the
medicine, the depression may go away.
Kathleen Romito, MD - Family Medicine
Lisa S. Weinstock, MD - Psychiatry
January 11, 2013
©1995-2012, Healthwise, Incorporated, P.O. Box 1989, Boise, ID 83701.
ALL RIGHTS RESERVED
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
For more information,
How this information was developed.