In my opinion all human beings at one time or another suffer from depression. This is because depression is caused by both pyhsiological and psychological factors. Depression if not allowed to take a person captive can be viewed as a sign that we need a change or growth needs to take place in us. There are many causes of depression and if we listened to our mind and body we may fair better in a bout of depression.
Physiological Causes of Depression:
One’s sleep pattern can have negative effect on how a person views the world and themselves. Three nights in a row without dreaming, even with plenty of sleep will cause most people to get depressed and somewhat paranoid. The brain manufactures neurotransmitters and replenishes them while you are sleeping. Thus a good, continuous night’s sleep is very important both in curing depression and preventing a relapse. Recent studies have proven that norepinephrine and serotonin initiate and maintain dreaming.
Eating patterns can also affect the physiology of a client. If one’s diet is lacking in certain nutrients and essential vitamins the body may express this deficiency through depression. It is suggested that sugar intensifies the cyclical highs and lows of our emotions with its artificial highs and subsequent lows. Research has also shown that most depressed people tend to have low levels of folic acid, a vitamin found most abundantly in leafy green vegetables. Alcohol often times is used as an escape from depression, but in actuality, alcohol can lead to vitamin deficiencies which can contribute to depression.
The menstrual cycle in women is related to a cycle of emotions and is an important physiological cause of depression. This is partly due to the disturbances in the woman’s hormonal system. Calcium-regulating hormones fluctuate during a woman’s cycle and drop significantly 10 days before menstruation, which may cause depression. Another cause is the increase in estrogen levels during menstruation which may result in depression due to the drop in blood sugar. Low progesterone levels and high estrogen levels also cause a drop in serotonin that may trigger depression. Teenagers are also prone to depression because of the hormonal disturbance in their system.
Another cause is the brain chemistry which results in biogenic amine imbalance. Neurotransmitters are chemicals which are released into synaptic space whenever a neuron conducts an action potential to the axon terminals. Neurotransmitters are basically chemicals that affect our mood. The most common neurotransmitters presumed to factor in depression are serotonin and norepinephrine. Neurotransmitters are naturally depleted during the course of each waking day.
Psychological causes of depression
In addition to physiological factors there are multiple psychological factors affecting the person who is depressed. Loss is one of the most common situational causes of depression. This could be loss of good health, an established role in life, loss of a loved one and the hope or hopelessness of the future. For example, during postpartum depression there is always a sense of loss of one’s freedom and independence.
Losing one’s independence is strongly felt in the older population. The aging process, with accompanying health, personal and social problems precipitates depression. In fact in the USA the highest population at risk for suicide are Caucasian men over the age of 65 years. Ailing health and loss of independence are viewed as important causes of emotional distress across different ethnic groups.
The loss of control over how one conducts their life can create a hopelessness in some causing depression and ultimately suicide. The transition from employment to retirement is also a principal depressive issue. Older people speak of their struggle to adapt to their change of roles. A few said retirement evoked feelings of being useless and unwanted which was a direct cause of depression.
Many of life’s transitions can be just as depressing especially when moving to a new environment. The work of establishing new thought patterns, finding new friends and socializing with new people are all recipes for depression. The changes create a change in status with which the individual must cope.
Family and relationships issues can cause depression. Many people identify marital problems and relationship breakdowns as causes of depression. Men can become disillusioned in mid-life which can result in “mid-life crisis”. When a man realizes that he is aging and he has not accomplished his life’s goals and his ambitions are beginning to fade depression may crop in as he mourns the loss of his dream.
Depression can also be a learned as away of life by children who live in homes where the parents are depressed. Individuals who spend their childhood identifying with negativistic, chronically depressed parents end up learning similar attitude. Past experiences of early separation in life seem to be a very significant factor toward depression in later life. The lack of contact leads to the feeling of being neglected, abandoned and lonely, with a sense that there is little to look forward to.
Another common factor causing depression is the experiencing of difficult life events and circumstances. They may include the death of a loved one and financial problems. Death is a permanent loss and may be debilitating if not handled carefully. Many people have been known not to want to go on with life after the death of a love one.
The loss of finances cause depression because of the materialistic nature of society. The more people value material things of life the more they are set to experience loss and consequently depression. The current hard economic times we are living in has proved this right because many are those who are having a melt down because of changed financial status.
Drugs or the after effect of drugs is another cause of depression. Many people use alcohol and drugs to self medicate from depression. However alcohol like most drugs when it wears off depresses the system and the person feels much worse as a result of the loss of feeling high.
Another factor leading to depression in particularly for those who have faith in God is sin. When a Christian sins the loss of the relationship with God can cause depression. Perhaps this is what happened to Adam and Eve when they sinned in the garden of Eden. The loss of the relationship with God made them develop shame and wanted to hide. Depression makes us want to hide or isolate ourselves from other relationships.