As mentioned earlier, body and mind work together and can add hormones to the development and presence of a depression. Hormones are not the only cause which can partake in the development of depression. below, we give an overview of these categories.

While you go through the categories, keep in mind that each depression is different and that they thus can all have different causes. A depression can develop due to a combination of causes, but even through the strong experience of one cause. That is why you should read the categories with an open mind.

Genetic causes                                 <=>                             Situational causes

The two large categories of causes of depression are genetic causes of depression and situational causes of depression. Under genetic causes of depression, we categorize the causes of depression which are present from birth. Genetic causes of depression are also sometimes called the vulnerable causes of depression, because genetic causes of depression can make us vulnerable to the development of a depression, but they will not always lead to the development of a depression.

Under situational causes of depression we consider the causes of depression which take place in our mind, body, and surroundings. It namely is so that not everyone will develop a depression, because people react differently with their mind and body to intensive situations.

Psychological causes of depression?

Under psychological causes of depression, we include events or situations which you have attached a strong negative emotion to. Depression is often developed after an extreme happening which you find difficult to process. Here we are speaking of subjective emotions, which you attach to the situation. it can namely be so that someone who experienced the same thing which you did, does not experience a depression because of it. We are thus speaking of the value and emotion which you personally find in the situation.

With this we also want to deal with the following statement: 'Only weaker people suffer from depression or can experience a depression.' This is not correct. A depression is developed due to the value and emotions which we attach to the situation. Each person is different and thus attaches another meaning and value to a situation, depending on their own coping style and previous experiences. Even people who have a strong character, can thus experience a depression because of a situation important to them ending up in a strongly negative way.

After this happening, a depression does not necessarily need to develop. Here, coping style is of importance. Coping style means the style you handle to deal with certain things. A coping style has the goal of processing difficult situations in a way which makes you feel better. Sometimes, however, a situation can be so overwhelming or confronting that you do not know which coping style is a correct coping style. Because of this, you create bad habits, which exhaust your body and mind. If this continues for an extensive or intensive period of time, a depression may develop. Your body and mind namely go into overdrive and physical and psychological immunity reduce.

Examples of intensive happenings are:

  • A divorce
  • Losing one's job
  • Discovering an illness
  • Moving
  • Experiencing a phase of transition

Physical causes of depression?

Except for psychological causes of depression, a depression can also have physical causes. Examples could be the development of a depression during winter. Why do depressions often occur during winter? Because the body experiences a deficit of vitamin D. This vitamin D makes our mechanism recharge. Furthermore, we become happy when our body gets enough sunlight. In the winter, however, this can be a problem, especially when you live in a country where winters can be intense.

Except for vitamin D, a shortage of Omega-3 fatty acids (EPA and DHA) could also lie at the basis of a depression. We thus cannot look at body and mind separately from each other. Often, people with a depression are also more vulnerable to illnesses, because their immune system is poorer.

However, in most cases, biological factors are not the direct cause of depression. There namely often is a combination of biological factors and mental pressure at play in order for someone to actually develop a depression.

What is often developed first? The mental consequences of depression or the physical consequences of a depression? This differs from case to case. However, it is often so that the bind brings down the body into a depression. With this we mean that, because you experience a depression, you will slowly but surely also start to experience physical symptoms. For example: after a while you can develop stomach aches, because you keep worrying about a certain fight you have had,

This can also happen the other way around. For example, you can experience a chronic illness and, because of this, feel depressed after a while. For example: due to your chronic illness you cannot go out with friends anymore or you often have to cancel activities. This can give you the feeling that you are isolated after a while, and that it feels useless to make plans with friends. You namely have to cancel them all the time anyway.

Genetic causes of depression?

Some forms of depression can also be caused by genetics. This means that, if there is a certain gene which we inherited from our parents or grandparents, we might have an increased chance of developing a depression. With these types of depression, taking certain medication is of utmost important in the treatment.

Recent research has shown that about 50% of the population is more vulnerable than the other 50%. However, this does not mean that these 50% of the population all have a depression. It thus is clear that a depression is not decided upon by our genes, but that they do have an influence on depression! A depression will not always develop, even if we are genetically vulnerable to depressions. There still often is a requirement of a combination of factors before we can speak of a depression.

Am I doomed to get a depression due to genetic causes?

Often, people who read the paragraphs above believe that they are doomed to develop a depression. Genetic causes of depression can partake in the development of depression, but they are rather a form of vulnerability than they are a form of 'being doomed'. If you know that you are genetically vulnerable to getting a depression, then it is useful to prevent this in time. But it must be stressed that being vulnerable does not automatically mean that you will develop a depression.

“Genes are rarely about inevitability, especially when it comes to humans, the brain, or behavior. They’re about vulnerability, propensities, tendencies.”

– Robert Sapolsky, Why zebra’s don’t get ulcers.

This quote helps to clarify our vision as to what vulnerability really means. Just like in a light type of allergy, it can be useful to know you have it, so that you can avoid future situations which might trigger this allergy. Forever, if you do no longer eat nuts as you are allergic to them, the chances that you will showcase allergic reactions to nuts is very small. This same thing goes for depression. If you start prevention in time, the chances that you will develop a depression are very small. However, if you do decide to eat a nut and for a moment think: 'I do not want to care about my allergy right now', then chances are that you will show an allergic reaction.

Why is the development of a depression hard work?

Causes of depression can differ from person to person. There can be different combinations of causes of depression which cause it. Yet, one aspect regarding causes of depression is the same in each type of depression: hard work. You might think now: what are they talking about? Depression being hard work? Think for yourself about what you are thinking of when you are depressed. In many cases, the following activities are ones which you partake in on a daily basis:

  • Worrying
  • Thinking about how you can do things better
  • Thinking about how you can live up to other people's expectations
  • Repeating what your tasks are, because you often forget them
  • Deciding whose fault the fight was exactly
  • Thinking you cannot change anything about a situation

These thoughts ask a lot of our mind and body. You make them work constantly. You give them too little rest and constantly think. Even though you want to build up rest by not partaking in many activities, you do continue being busy. This means you will forget a lot and the vicious cycle stands.

So, it is hard work to keep up a depression and to let the causes of depression come together. You need to:

  • First have a combination of causes of depression
  • Pick a faulty coping style
  • Keep up poor habits
  • Continue pushing yourself in these poor habits
  • Go from one to the next negative experience
  • Keep going either way
  • See yourself deteriorate, but still keep going on

Even though you often do not choose for the situation in which you are, you can choose what your response to it is, and pick a response which brings you rest and motivation. WIth this, help provision can guide you, and the online self-help program can motivate you to formulate a new plan of action, which brings you rest and happiness.

Causes of depression: a free depression test?

To learn more about your personal situation and which depression symptoms you experience, you can always take our free depression test here. This test can tell you more about your depression symptoms and how to treat them.