Causes of Depression
Stress, the effects of medicines, lifestyle factors and genetic susceptibility can all increase the risk of depression. Excessive stress at home, work or school may lead to depression in some people.
Physical changes can also bring on a mood disorder. The effects of medical illnesses such as epilepsy, stroke, heart attack, cancer, Parkinson's disease and hormonal disorders can lead people to feel depressed. Some of these feelings may be normal reactions to a difficult medical problem.
In general, however, persistent symptoms of depression need to be treated regardless of the cause.
Who Develops Depression and Why
People of all ages, races, ethnic groups and social classes can become depressed. It can occur at any age. More women than men experience depression. Hormonal changes associated with the life cycle may trigger depression in some women. Untreated depression is also a common disorder among the elderly. Even children can experience clinical depression.
It's important to recognize that having a mood disorder like depression is not a character flaw or a sign of personal weakness. Researchers say that severe depression is caused by an imbalance in brain chemicals. The disorder can even run in families. Obviously, a mood disorder caused by these conditions is not the result of a lack of will power or a bad attitude.
Depressed people with an imbalance of chemicals in the brain can't make themselves well by trying to "snap out of it" or "lighten up" -- no matter how much they try.
They need treatment to restore balance in brain chemicals.