Causes of Depression

I believe that no one is immune to depression or other mental health issues. You can have a ‘bubbly’ personality or seem happy to others much of the time.

You could appear to ‘have it all’ – perfect life, perfect job, children, home etc., however appearances can be deceiving and not representative of what is actually going on emotionally or psychologically.

Depression does not just affect people who are underprivileged or those that are emotionally ‘weak’… it can happen to any one of us and can be triggered by a number of reasons. Here are some factors which can be a cause of depression:

Prolonged stress and major stressful events – if you were to experience stress related symptoms for a number or weeks or months, you are more vulnerable as a result to develop longer term mental health issues, such as depression, particularly if you are not able to cope with the stress very well.

Major stressful events such as a relationship breakdown and financial difficulties can trigger depression. Sometimes after a long period of grief as a result of loss or bereavement, depression symptoms can occur, beyond what may seem ‘normal’ symptoms of loss.

Personality can be a factor. People with a more pessimistic outlook on life can be more vulnerable to depression than people who tend to ‘look on the bright side of life’.

Environmental and early life experiences – You may have experienced difficulties in childhood such as abuse or abandonment. These issues have a habit of emerging throughout life depending on what is happening. For example, I have had clients who have experienced the death of a parent at a young age. When they have children of their own, the client may notice that life generally becomes more difficult to manage or relationships are affected when their child reaches the age they were when their parent died.

Genetics – You could be at an increased risk of developing depression if mental health issues run in the family.

Illness/disability resulting in lifestyle changes – If you are diagnosed with a physical illness or become disabled and are forced to make lifestyle changes, this can be extremely difficult for some people to manage. Not being able to exercise in the same way, or fulfil requirements of your job, or drive a car for example, can damage self esteem and confidence.

Pregnancy and/or birth – Pregnancy and birth, for many, is an exciting time, however it is a time when women can experience hormonal changes (as well as what is going on physically). This along with worries about being a good parent, isolation and lack of sleep can bring on the common ‘baby blues’, however for some, post natal depression can develop.

Click here to read a moving article written by Kate Figes for the Guardian about pressures mothers face when having a baby.

Alcohol/drugs – This cause of depression could also be described as a symptom of depression. Alcohol is well known for being a depressant and it has been publicised in the media that cannabis can bring on depression as well as other mental health issues.

Biochemical – The brain is so complex and we are limited by what we know about links between brain function and depression due to ongoing research, however, sometimes a chemical imbalance within the brain can cause depression.

Whatever the cause of your depression, a downward spiral possibly occurred. This is when you experience something difficult happening in your life such as loss or a relationship breakdown and as a result you begin to withdraw socially. You may develop negative coping structures such as drinking more alcohol or eating unhealthily. You may then become unwell … you get the picture! The spiral continues and one thing leads to another and depression can emerge.

Read this article by Health magazine for other possible causes of depression.


If you are worried that you may be suffering from depression, then please seek medical intervention.

See my page on signs of depression

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