Depression is often a word used to describe a person feeling sad or down. Although it is used loosely in some instances, depression is quite serious and is often described as a black hole of hopelessness and helplessness. Although the main cause of depression is believed to be an imbalance in brain chemicals, it can be much deeper and more complicated. There is no “scientific cause” for depression. Anyone can get depressed and the circumstances causing depression in individuals vary hugely from person to person.
While women are more likely to get depressed due to hormonal changes during puberty, menstruation, menopause and pregnancy, men are also targets for depression. The difference between men and women are that men often go undiagnosed, because they are less likely to seek help. Instead, their actions might become more angry, and hostile, as they attempt to hide their symptoms. Elderly can also become depressed after, for example, losing a loved one, coping and learning to live alone, becoming physically ill and being less active.
Depression usually spurs due to a combination of several things, such as:
- Family History: genetics, depression can run in the family for generations
- Trauma and Stress: experiences and events such as financial problems, the break up of a relationship, death of a loved one, significant changes to your life or lifestyle – such as starting a new job, graduating from school or getting married, pregnancy.
- Pessimistic Personality: having low-self esteem or having a negative outlook
- Physical Condition: problems such as serious medical conditions – heart disease, cancer and HIV can contribute due to physical weakness and stress. Depression is also known to weaken the immune system and can therefore make physical pains hard to bear
- Psychological Disorders: anxiety, eating disorders, schizophrenia and substance abuse can also lead to depression
Depression can also be a result of other mood-altering disorders, such as dysthymia, seasonal affective disorder, post-partum and bipolar disorder.