What Conditions Lead to Depression?

Depression disorders have become increasingly more prevalent within modern-day society. According to Stanford University School of Medicine, as much as 10 percent of American adults will develop a major depressive disorder within their lifetime. Of this number, women are twice more likely to experience depression than men.

In general, depression disorders result from chemical imbalances in the brain. As many different factors can alter or offset the brain’s chemical balance, there’s no one definitive cause for these imbalances occur. In effect, anything capable of offsetting normal brain chemical processes can potentially cause depression. Genetics, certain lifestyle habits and medical conditions can all play a part in causing depression.



Many factors can cause a person to develop depression.

Genetics or inherited features play a big part in determining the basic characteristics of any one person’s brain structure and functions. Stanford University researchers estimate genetics to have a 40 to 50 percent bearing on whether or not a person will develop a depression disorder. Environmental and/or physical factors take up the remaining 50 to 60 percent likelihood of developing the condition.

Both environmental and physical stressors can have damaging effects on a person’s body chemistry in general. Stress, in and of itself, can have damaging effects on a person’s health as well as on his or her brain functions. Some of these stressors can take the form of:

  • Childhood physical abuse
  • Childhood sexual abuse
  • Childhood neglect
  • Diabetes
  • Heart conditions

A pre-existing psychological condition can also predispose a person’s brain chemistry to developing a depression disorder. Psychological conditions commonly associated with depression include:

  • Bipolar disorder
  • Social phobia
  • Panic disorder
  • Generalized anxiety disorder

Not unlike depression’s genetic component, genetic factors can greatly influence the likelihood a person will develop other depression-related psychological conditions. In any event, regardless of genetic bearing, extreme stress of any kind can offset a person’s brain chemical balance and trigger depression symptoms.

Lifestyle Habits

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, lifestyle habits, such as smoking cigarettes and alcohol consumption can cause depression disorders to develop. Ingesting nicotine stimulates certain brain cell receptors that secrete various neurotransmitter chemicals. In effect, long-term smoking habits can disrupts chemical processes in the brain.

Likewise, consuming alcohol on a regular basis can also offset brain chemical processes. While both nicotine and alcohol use can cause depression, it’s still unclear as to whether these habits actually cause depression or develop as a result of depression symptoms.

Physical Causes

Physical causes of depression often have to do with a person’s activity level as well as with his or her ability to sleep soundly through the night. Data collected by the Canadian National Population Health Survey showed people who engaged in little to no physical activity are more prone to developing depression symptoms. People suffering from obesity are especially prone to experiencing symptoms of depression.

As not getting a good night’s sleep can take the pep out of most anyone’s step, someone experiencing persistent sleep problems will inevitably feel these effects on both a psychological and emotional level. After weeks of insufficient sleep, it’s not uncommon for depression symptoms to become progressively worse the longer the condition persists.


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