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Causes of Depression

Recent research has discovered some structural differences in the brains of most people suffering from depression. People who are depressed have a smaller hippocampus, the part of the brain where memories are stored, than those who are not depressed. Depression sufferers also seem to produce an excessive amount of the stress hormone cortisol. This discovery has led some scientists to theorize that cortisol is toxic to the hippocampus and may affect the ability of the hippocampus to produce Serotonin. Whether or not this is the case, it is clear that depression is a highly complex malady that is influenced by a multitude of factors including:

Biological causes

According to the latest research, there seems to be no doubt that some people are more prone to depression than others. Research on twins found that when one identical twin was depressed their sibling had 76 percent chance of succumbing to depression too. Even when identical twins had been raised in different households, if one twin was depressed, 67 percent of the time the other would develop depression too. In fraternal twins, however, the likelihood of both twins suffering from depression was only 19 percent. Generally, people who have a close family member with depression are up to three times more likely to become depressed themselves.


Medication taken for such ailments as high blood pressure, cancer, and Parkinson's disease can also change the balance of serotonin in the system and this may prompt depression in patients already coping with these illnesses. Of course, just having a serious illness can itself trigger depression.

Emotional trauma

The death of a loved one, divorce, conflict in the home or at work can push someone over the edge into depression.So can past physical traumas such as physical, emotional or/and sexual abuse in childhood. Men are particularly susceptible to depression due to a job loss or change in social status that undermines their sense of personal identity and feelings of self-worth.

Life changes

Even life changes that are anticipated and seemingly desirable such as moving into a new home, graduating college, or getting married can, in some individuals, trigger a major depression.

Merln Hurd PhD; BCN, QEEGT

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