Causes of Depression (cont.)
One thing is certain -- depression is a complex illness with many contributing factors. The latest scans and studies of brain chemistry that show the effects of antidepressants help broaden our understanding of the biochemical processes involved in depression. As scientists gain a better understanding of the cause(s) of depression, health professionals will be able to make better "tailored" diagnoses and, in turn, prescribe more effective treatment plans.
How Is Genetics Linked to the Risk of Depression?
We know that depression seems to run in families. This suggests that there's a genetic link to depression. Children, siblings, and parents of people with severe depression are much more likely to suffer from depression than are members of the general population. Multiple genes interacting with one another in special ways probably contribute to the various types of depression that run in families. Yet despite all the evidence of a family link to depression, scientists still have not been able to identify a "depression" gene.
Can Certain Drugs Cause Depression?
In certain people, drugs may lead to depression. For example, medications such as barbiturates, benzodiazepines, and beta-blockers have been associated with depression, especially in older people. Likewise, medications such as corticosteroids, opioids (codeine, morphine), and anticholinergics taken to relieve stomach cramping have been found to cause mania, which is a highly elated state associated with bipolar disorder.
What's the Link Between Depression and Chronic Illness?
In some people, a chronic illness causes depression. A chronic illness is an illness that lasts for a very long time and usually cannot be cured completely. However, chronic illnesses can often be controlled through diet, exercise, lifestyle habits, and certain medications. Some examples of chronic illnesses that may cause depression are diabetes, heart disease, arthritis, kidney disease, HIV/AIDS, lupus, and multiple sclerosis (MS). Hypothyroidism may also lead to depressed feelings.
Researchers believe that treating the depression may also help the co-existing illness improve.
Is Depression Linked to Chronic Pain?
When pain lingers for weeks to months, it's referred to as being "chronic." Not only does chronic pain hurt, it also disturbs your sleep, your ability to exercise and be active, your relationships, and your productivity at work. Can you see how chronic pain may also leave you feeling sad, isolated, and depressed?
There is help for chronic pain and depression. A multifaceted program of medicine, psychotherapy, support groups, and more can help you manage your pain, ease your depression, and get your life back on track.
Does Depression Often Occur With Grief?
Grief is a common response to loss. Losses that may lead to grief include the death or separation of a loved one, loss of a job, death or loss of a beloved pet, or any number of other changes in life, such as divorce, becoming an "empty nester," or retirement. Anyone can experience grief and loss, but not everyone will experience depression. Each person is unique in how he or she copes with these feelings.
WebMD Medical Reference
Last Editorial Review: 2/1/2012