Depression is a common illness in our society. The facts are, to say the least, impressive.
How often does depression occur?
The World Health Organisation published the following worrying statistics regarding depression:
- 350 million people suffer from depression worldwide, and millions more suffer indirectly through their family members and loved ones.
- 1 million people end their lives by suicide in a depression.
- 1-2 mothers out of 10 get a pregnancy depression, with negative consequences on the care and love they can give to their child, and severe consequences on the development of the child.
What is depression?
Depression is a brain disorder where the brain is affected by the consequences of long-term, chronic stress. The activity of the brain is reduced or even shut down at a biological level as a result of an overload of our stress system.
Causes of depression?
Psychological causes of depression
Depression is often caused by a chronic overload of our brain and our immune system. In most cases this is caused by work pressure, financial pressure, or family pressure which exceeds the power which the person has to deal with this pressure. So the objective pressure is not the only thing which plays a role in the development of depression. The subjective resilience of a person also helps decide whether they will suffer from a depression or not.
Physical causes of depression
Biological factors, too, can play a role in the development of depression. Certain medication, the hormonal changes after a pregnancy, getting too little sunlight, or a shortage of Vitamin D or Omega 3 fatty acids (EPA and DHA) can cause depression. In most cases, however, it is so that the biological condition is not the direct cause of depression. Rather, a combination both biological factors and mental pressure tends to be at play in order for someone to develop a depression.
Genetic causes of depression
In the case of the bipolar or manic-depressive depression, the main cause is first of all genetic and therefore hereditary. These people should take psychopharamaceuticals (antidepressants + Lithium) as well as use therapy or online self-help in order to learn to deal with the triggering factors. All other types of depression have main causes other than genetics. Yet, recent study showed that about 50% of the population could have a type of depression gene which makes them more vulnerable to depression than the other 50% of the population. These people are mainly helped by an online self-help program or psychotherapy, and only in special cases medication (antidepressants) will also be needed. It thus is clear that our genes are not decisive, but they are influential!
Using a simple online self-test for depression you can find out if you have depressive traits. Take the depression test now!
Paul Koeck, MD