Have you ever wondered what causes clinical depression? Perhaps you have been diagnosed with major depression, and that's made you question why some people get depressed while others don't.
Depression is an extremely complex disease. No one knows exactly what causes it, but it can occur for a variety of reasons. Some people experience depression during a serious medical illness. Others may have depression with life changes such as a move or the death of a loved one. Still others have a family history of depression. Those who do may experience depression and feel overwhelmed with sadness and loneliness for no known reason.
Psychotic depression is a subtype of major depression that occurs when a severe depressive illness includes some form of psychosis. The psychosis could be hallucinations (such as hearing a voice telling you that you are no good or worthless), delusions (such as, intense feelings of worthlessness, failure, or having committed a sin) or some other break with reality. Psychotic depression affects roughly one out of every four people admitted to the hospital for depression.
There are a number of factors that may increase the chance of depression, including the following:
Abuse. Past physical, sexual, or emotional abuse can increase the vulnerability to clinical depression later in life.
Certain medications. Some drugs, such as Accutane (used to treat acne), the antiviral drug interferon-alpha, and corticosteroids, can increase your risk of depression.
Conflict. Depression in someone who has the biological vulnerability to develop depression may result from personal conflicts or disputes with family members or friends.
Death or a loss. Sadness or grief from the death or loss of a loved one, though natural, may increase the risk of depression.
Genetics. A family history of depression may increase the risk. It's thought that depression is a complex trait, meaning that there are probably many different genes that each exert small effects, rather than a single gene that contributes to disease risk. The genetics of depression, like most psychiatric disorders, are not as simple or straightforward as in purely genetic diseases such as Huntington's chorea or cystic fibrosis.
Major events. Even good events such as starting a new job, graduating, or getting married can lead to depression. So can moving, losing a job or income, getting divorced, or retiring. However, the syndrome of clinical depression is never just a "normal" response to stressful life events.
Other personal problems. Problems such as social isolation due to other mental illnesses or being cast out of a family or social group can contribute to the risk of developing clinical depression.
Serious illnesses. Sometimes depression co-exists with a major illness or may be triggered by another medical condition.
Substance abuse. Nearly 30% of people with substance abuse problems also have major or clinical depression.