Midwife Matters

Pregnancy preparations, women's health, and care options

What causes depression?

Depression can affect anyone–even a person who appears to live in relatively ideal circumstances.

But several factors can play a role in the onset of depression:

Biochemistry. Abnormalities in two chemicals in the brain, serotonin and norepinephrine, might contribute to symptoms of depression, including anxiety, irritability and fatigue. Other brain networks undoubtedly are involved as well; scientists are actively seeking new knowledge in this area.

Genetics. Depression can run in families. For example, if one identical twin has depression, the other has a 70% chance of having the illness sometime in life.

Personality. People with low self-esteem, who are easily overwhelmed by stress, or who are generally pessimistic appear to be vulnerable to depression.

Environmental factors. Continuous exposure to violence, neglect, abuse or poverty may make people who are already susceptible to depression all the more vulnerable to the illness.

Also, a medical condition (e.g., a brain tumor or vitamin deficiency) can cause depression, so it is important to be evaluated by a psychiatrist or other health care provider to rule out general medical causes.

« Depression


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