Mental Health

What Causes Depression? 8 Factors

what causes depression Posted On
Posted By Alex Perez - Mental Health Writer, B.A.

What is Depression?

Depression is a term that is often overused nowadays. We use the word to portray anything from an awful day to losing the will to live. Still, as anybody with depression realizes, its meaning is considerably more complex and broad than the definition would describe or suggest.

Depression involves a lot of feelings, all at once. Depression is the inability to get out of bed every morning. Depression is feeling sad, hopeless, and empty all day, every day.  Depression also means dragging yourself through each day. Depression even includes trouble sleeping, eating, and breathing[i] in some cases. Even feeling no motivation to live your life and no self-love or self-esteem characterizes depression.

We all feel low from time to time. You may be happy most of the days, but there will also be days when you fall apart and feel like an emotional wreck. You feel sad and hopeless. These feelings are usually temporary and go away after some time. However, this is not the case with depression. Depression, also known as “depressive disorder,” is a mood disorder that begins to affect your daily life, such as eating, sleeping, and normal functioning, interfering with and alternating your daily routine. If these symptoms are present most of the day, and every day for at least two weeks, we call it depression.

Worldwide more than 264 people suffer from depression. Women are at higher risk than men of developing depression, so do the elderly above age 65.

What causes depression?

Depression is initially a reaction to an unbearable and unavoidable situation in life. It can be a response to an unfair behavior or rejection or a struggle accepting where life has taken you or where you are heading to in this moment of your life. It is also a refusal to move on with your life any longer. It is definitely a surrendering to one’s problems.

There is no specific cause for depression. Several physiological, psychological, and environmental factors contribute to developing depression over time.

They may include:

Traumatic Life Events

traumatic life events

Traumatic and stressful life[ii] events that you are unable to deal with or forget may sometimes go beyond normal sadness and grief and tend, in severe cases, to evolve towards depression[iii].

They may include:

  • Death of a loved one
  • Surviving child abuse 
  • Surviving a car accident, plane crash, or an explosion
  • Parents’ separation or divorce
  • Relationship problems
  • Financial issues
  • Facing rejection, cheating, or betrayal

Substance Abuse

substance abuse causes depression

There is a proven link between substance abuse, like cannabis or alcohol, and depression.



Are you interested in health, or do you don’t care? Do you have a sedentary lifestyle or are you do you work out daily? Do you watch your diet or do you eat junk food often?

The answers to these questions about your lifestyle, or the way you live your life, will have a significant influence on if you are prone to develop depression or not.

Living Environment

living environment

For some people, having a non-supportive and non-loving family, no family at all, or stressful living environment or conditions may cause depression. Other challenging living situations like poverty, homelessness, abuse, body shaming, bullying[iv], and harassment may give birth to an individual with a depressive disorder.


loneliness causes depression

Being isolated or alienated from your family and friends will put you at risk of developing depression. Depression due to loneliness is even more prevalent in older adults. Geriatric depression affects over 6 million Americans, ages 65 and older.

Genetics and Heredity

Heredity causes depression

Studies[v] suggest that depression runs in families. You are at significant risk of developing depression if you have a family history of depression and anxiety. That does not necessarily mean that you will be confronted with depression at one moment in your life if you have a family history of depression.

Health Conditions

health conditions

Certain health conditions may also act as significant risk factors for depression. For example, hyperthyroidism[vi] is known to cause depression in some people. Similarly, mononucleosis[vii]is found to cause depressive disorder and severe fatigue. Symptoms of depression usually go away after the underlying disease is treated. Psychological issues and mental health problems may also aggravate depression.

Personality & Attitude

personality and attitude

The way an individual responds to life’s circumstances and situations play a major role in causing depression. A person’s perspective in life can contribute to depression, or it can guard against it. If you respond negatively to life events, get angry, and lose hope quickly, this may lead to depression. Accepting the situation and wisely choosing the ways to solve the underlying problems that got you in this situation in the first place will help you fight the disease and live a happy life.

Other factors that may contribute include medications[viii], an imbalance in neurotransmitter levels in the brain, and the hours of daylight, seasons, and hormones.

Mental Health Awareness

Whatever the cause may be, never forget that depression is treatable. Consult a qualified medical expert and get treated for your depressive disorder. Most people who suffered from depression overcome this illness. Coping with depression will require a lot of willpower and introspection; over time, you will acquire a whole new perspective on life. Things will get easier for you, too, and you will find a way out of this.

Question: What is the major cause of depression according to you?

Main causes of depression infographic
Infographic: Main Causes of Depression

[i] Int J Geriatr Psychiatry. 2010 Oct; 25(10): 1080–1084.


[iii] Heim C, Newport DJ, Mletzko T, Miller AH, Nemeroff CB (July 2008). “The link between childhood trauma and depression: insights from HPA axis studies in humans”. Psychoneuroendocrinology33 (6): 693–710. doi:10.1016/j.psyneuen.2008.03.008. PMID 18602762.

[iv] Pillemer K, Suitor JJ, Pardo S, Henderson C (April 2010). “Mothers’ Differentiation and Depressive Symptoms among Adult Children”Journal of Marriage and the Family72 (2): 333–345. doi:10.1111/j.1741-3737.2010.00703.x. PMC 2894713. PMID 20607119.

[v] Davey CG, Yücel M, Allen NB (2008). “The emergence of depression in adolescence: Development of the prefrontal cortex and the representation of reward”. Neuroscience and Biobehavioral Reviews32 (1): 1–19. doi:10.1016/j.neubiorev.2007.04.016. PMID 17570526.



[viii] Rogers D, Pies R (December 2008). “General medical with depression drugs associated”Psychiatry5 (12): 28–41. PMC 2729620. PMID 19724774.

Harvard Medical School: What Causes Depression? Causes of Depression Depression Causes

Related Post