Causes of Depression

There is no single known cause of depression. Rather, it likely results from a combination of genetic, biochemical, environmental, and psychological factors. Trauma, loss of a loved one, a difficult relationship, or any stressful situation that overwhelms the ability to cope may trigger a depressive episode. Subsequent depressive episodes may occur with or without an obvious trigger.

Research with brain-imaging technologies, such as magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), shows that the brains of people who have depression look different than those of people without depression. The parts of the brain responsible for regulating mood, thinking, sleep, appetite, and behavior appear to function abnormally. In addition, the chemicals that brain cells use to communicate—neurotransmitters—may also be affected. It is not clear which changes seen in the brain may be the cause of depression and which ones the effect.

Some types of depression tend to run in families, suggesting there may be some genetic vulnerability to the disorder.

Recent posts on Depression

Why We Need to Address Mean Girl Behavior Early and Often

By Katie Hurley, LCSW on January 16, 2018 in Worry-Free Kids
Do mean girls leaving a lasting impact?
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I Hate My Mother

An Authoritarian Wound Questionnaire respondent explains her relationship with her authoritarian mother.

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Grief is overwhelming. It is painful beyond measure. Should you active try to "get over" it?

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Anxiety, Depression, and Other “Gifts” You May Have

By Jeff Corbin, MD MPH on January 14, 2018 in Rethinking Normal
Don’t blame your mother. It’s not her fault, or yours.

Stigma, Psychopathology, and President Trump

Virtually everyone experiences a decline in fluid intelligence after about 70 years on the planet.

Rape Victims' Reactions Misunderstood by Law Enforcement

Most rape victims suffer secondary victimization by the justice system.

Closure Is Overrated

"You need closure." Heard that before? Here's why getting closure is unrealistic in some circumstances.

Transcranial Direct Current Stimulation for Depressed Mood

Are you searching for information about transcranial direct current stimulation for depressed mood? Large sham-controlled studies are needed to confirm antidepressant benefits.
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Five Mistakes People With Depression Make

By Alice Boyes Ph.D. on January 09, 2018 in In Practice
Ways people with depression self-sabotage and some highly practical solutions.

How Stigma Kills Doctors

Stigma is driving suicide in some doctors. Fortunately, courageous stories of doctors living with psychiatric illness are unlocking the shame.

When Grief Gets Complicated

By Jessica Zitter MD, MPH on January 08, 2018 in Life and Dignity
Having a loved one die is hard enough. Make sure that you aren't flying blind.

Depression and Suicide

By Nancy Rappaport M.D. on January 08, 2018 in We Are Only Human
As students return to schools after the holidays, parents should also have a potentially life-saving talk with their kids to avert a possible tragedy — suicide.

50 Psychological Hacks for Better Mental Health

By Linda Esposito LCSW on January 08, 2018 in From Anxiety to Zen
Do you need a mental tune-up? A few adjustments can go a long way toward creating a positive mood.

Sad Songs Say So Much...About the Listener

A recent study suggests that a strong emotional response to sad music is associated with high empathy.

Pediatricians Have the Power to Improve Moms' Mental Health

New research shows that pediatricians have the potential to vastly improve the mental health of women and families.

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By Paula L. White M.A. on January 08, 2018 in Shape Parenting
Do you want to make life better for your kids? Stop doing these 4 things today.

Mindfulness and Being Present in the Moment

By Elyssa Barbash Ph.D. on January 07, 2018 in Trauma and Hope
Living in the moment has an abundance of benefits.
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Pulling Back? Withdrawing? 5 Possible Reasons Why

By Robert Taibbi L.C.S.W. on January 07, 2018 in Fixing Families
Pulling back, emotionally or physically withdrawing happens to all of us from time-to-time. Here are five common reasons why and how to handle them.

Attachment Style, Adult Well-Being, and Childhood Trauma

Research spanning decades looks at how maltreatment of children plays out in adulthood.

Show Your Mind Who's Boss

By Joel Minden, Ph.D. on January 06, 2018 in CBT and Me
Are you tired of being controlled by negative, destructive thoughts? Take charge with these three strategies.

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Why Do Horses Help Us Heal?

Have you ever wondered why horses are used in therapy?

Technology Designed for Addiction

By David Dillard-Wright Ph.D. on January 04, 2018 in Boundless
Have trouble limiting social media exposure? Tech giants want it that way.

Crushing Debt Affects Student Mental Health

Students are struggling to cope with rising tuition costs and high debt loads.

Why the Same Old Thinking Gets You the Same Old Results

By Linda Esposito LCSW on January 03, 2018 in From Anxiety to Zen
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Deep Brain Stimulation Without Surgery

A technique to selectively stimulate specific brain regions without the need for surgery has been developed recently. Such technology has tremendous therapeutic potential.

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