CausesBy Mayo Clinic staff
It's not known exactly what causes depression. As with many mental illnesses, it appears a variety of factors may be involved. These include:
- Biological differences. People with depression appear to have physical changes in their brains. The significance of these changes is still uncertain, but may eventually help pinpoint causes.
- Neurotransmitters. These naturally occurring brain chemicals linked to mood are thought to play a direct role in depression.
- Hormones. Changes in the body's balance of hormones may be involved in causing or triggering depression. Hormone changes can result from thyroid problems, menopause or a number of other conditions.
- Inherited traits. Depression is more common in people whose biological family members also have this condition. Researchers are trying to find genes that may be involved in causing depression.
- Life events. Certain events, such as the death or loss of a loved one, financial problems, and high stress, can trigger depression in some people.
- Early childhood trauma. Traumatic events during childhood, such as abuse or loss of a parent, may cause permanent changes in the brain that make you more susceptible to depression.
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