7 facts you should know about depression



Depression is a very real and treatable illness. But myths, misunderstandings, and stigma continue to be barriers to treatment for many, and the consequences of untreated depression can be life-threatening.

Understanding the facts about depression, on the other hand, can save lives.

Here are seven things everyone should know about depression and depressive disorders.

1. Depression doesn’t always have a “good” reason

Sometimes people become depressed for what seems like a “good” reason—maybe they lost their job or a close friend passed away—but with clinical depression, there doesn’t necessarily have to be a reason for how you feel. The chemicals in the brain that are responsible for mood control may be out of balance causing you to feel bad even though everything in your life is going well.

2. Brain chemistry imbalances

Depression has been linked to an imbalance in the neurotransmitters that impact mood regulation. This includes dopamine, serotonin, and norepinephrine. The theory is that having too much or too little of these neurotransmitters can cause (or contribute to) depression.

3. Hormones

Any flux in the production or function of hormones—for example, pregnancy, menstruation, menopause, or thyroid issues—could contribute to depression.

4. Seasonal changes

Major depressive disorder with seasonal patterns (seasonal affective disorder) is triggered by disruptions in the circadian rhythm of the body. A change in seasons can also disrupt sleep, which can contribute to a depressed mood.

5. Stress and trauma

The loss of a loved one, trauma and abuse, chronic stress, and big life changes (such as a divorce or losing a job) can trigger depression. Researchers blame this on the high levels of the hormone cortisol that are secreted during these stressful, traumatic times. Cortisol affects the neurotransmitter serotonin and can trigger depression.

6. Depression is more than ordinary sadness

Sadness is a part of being human, a natural reaction to painful circumstances. All of us will experience sadness at some point in our lives. Depression, however, is an illness with many more symptoms than an unhappy mood.

7. Many factors can cause depression

The causes of depression aren’t completely understood, but it is believed that the best explanation for it is that it is probably caused a combination of factors, such as an underlying genetic tendency towards the condition and certain environmental factors that can act as triggers.

Having a parent and grandparent with depression increases the risk of depression, suggesting that genetics plays a big role. The rates of depression are also higher among those who have a history of substance use. Other factors linked to depression include brain chemistry imbalances, hormones, seasonal changes, stress, and trauma

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