What causes depression?

There are many different causes that may lead to the occurrence of depression. A distinction is made between factors that put people at an elevated risk of the occurrence of depression, and factors that ultimately lead to the onset of depressive symptoms like current living and environmental conditions.

Risk Factors

Depression occurs more frequently in people who have blood relatives with depression or bipolar disorders. Serious mental or physical illness can generally make the occurrence of depression more likely.

Other important risk factors are alcohol or drug dependency. Furthermore, there are various medicines and drugs, such as certain beta blockers or immunosuppressives, which may cause symptoms of depression.

In addition, various physical illnesses, such as an underactive thyroid may increase the risk of developing a depressive disorder.

Current living conditions

The factors mentioned above do lead to an elevated risk of depression, but do not necessarily lead to the occurrence of depression. The individual episodes of depression will often be triggered by the coming together of several recent factors such as stressful life events, eg. the loss of a loved one, frequent conflicts in ones private or professional life, stress, overworking, isolation or lack of support.

In most cases, there is not one single factor responsible for the occurrence of depression, but the coming together of several factors eventually leads to the onset of depressive symptoms.

Read more: Are there different types of depression?

Dr. Sandra Elze & Dr. Michael Elze