Some types of depression do seem to run in families, suggesting a biological vulnerability. This seems to be the case with bipolar depression and, to a lesser degree, severe major depression.
Studies of families, in which members of each generation develop bipolar disorder, found that those with bipolar disorder have a somewhat different genetic makeup than those who are not diagnosed.
An external event often seems to initiate an episode of depression. Thus, a serious loss, chronic illness, difficult relationship, financial problem, or any unwelcome change in life patterns can trigger a depressive episode. Very often, a combination of genetic, psychological, and environmental factors is involved in the onset of a depressive disorder.
Additional research data indicate that people suffering from depression have imbalances of neurotransmitters, natural substances that allow brain cells to communicate with one another. Two transmitters implicated in depression are serotonin and norepinephrine. Scientists think a deficiency in serotonin may cause the sleep problems, irritability, and anxiety associated with depression. Likewise, a decreased amount of norepinephrine, which regulates alertness and arousal, may contribute to the fatigue and depressed mood of the illness.
Some people become depressed through being overwhelmed by change and stress. We live in a time of rapidly increasing change and the demands of adjustment are difficult. Too much of an adjustment in too short of a time may over burden a person. Stress begins to wear them out and there is a loss of resiliency. They can no longer bounce back from adversity. They begin to pull away from others and their energy decreases.
Depression as a disease
As we have seen, depression is not a disease. The physical symptoms are just that, symptoms, and not causes.
Being depressed can feel like a physical disorder because you often feel exhausted, experience pain, have changes in appetite, and so on.
Sudden Severe Loss
In this situation, the individual has experienced a sudden, perhaps surprising severe loss. This loss may be the death of a loved one, loss of a job, loss of friendship, or other grief process. In this type of depression, the patient can clearly identify what is creating the depressed mood.
A serious loss, chronic illness, relationship problems, work stress, family crisis, financial setback, or any unwelcome life change can trigger a depressive episode. Very often, a combination of biological, psychological, and environmental factors are involved in the development of depressive disorders, as well as other psychological problems. When you feel depressed, and don’t know where to turn, talk to someone who can help…. a psychologist.
Signs and Symptoms of Depression:
- Feelings of helplessness and hopelessness
- A bleak outlook—nothing will ever get better and there’s nothing you can do to improve your situation.
- Loss of interest in dailly activities
- No interest in or ability to enjoy former hobbies, pastimes, social activities, or sex.
- Appetite or weight changes
- Significant weight loss or weight gain—a change of more than 5% of body weight in a month.
- Sleep changes
- Either insomnia or oversleeping (also known as hypersomnia).
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