Causes of Depression

While no one knows for sure the causes depression, , there are a number of factors that may increase the chance of developing depression, including the following:


Researchers have noted differences in the brains of depressed people as compared to people who are not depressed. For example, the hippocampus, a small part of the brain that is important to the storage of memories, seems smaller in people with a history of depression than in those who have never been depressed.

Death or a loss

Depression can often be the result of extreme sadness or grief from the death or loss of a loved one.  While it is normal to have feelings of sadness or grief upon losing a loved one, it can often develop into unrelenting depression.


If you have a family history of depression, it  may increase your risks of developing depression yourself.. It is thought that depression is passed genetically from one generation to the next.  Children, siblings, and parents of people with severe depression are much more likely to suffer from depression than are members of the general population.

Major life events

Depression can often result when there are new, major events occurring in one’s life.  Even positive events, such as starting a new job, graduating, or getting married, can lead to depression. In addition, events such as moving, losing a job, getting divorced, or retiring can also cause depression.


If an individual has suffered from past physical, sexual, or emotional abuse, it increases his/her chance for developing depression later in life.

Certain medications

Sometimes certain medications, such as beta-blockers or reserpine, can increase one’s chance of developing depression.  Drug companies who know that depression is one of the side effects of taking their medication have a duty to warn its users of the chance of developing depression.


Depression may result from personal conflicts or disputes with family members or friends.  A person may become depressed due to these conflicts and find that they can no longer cope with everyday life.

Serious or chronic illnesses

Sometimes depression co-exists with a major illness or is a reaction to the illness.  Some examples of chronic illnesses that may cause depression are diabetes, heart disease, arthritis, kidney disease, HIV/AIDS, lupus, and multiple sclerosis (MS).

Substance abuse

Nearly 30% of people with substance abuse problems also have major or clinical depression.  However, it isn’t always clear which one came first. Depression can cause substance abuse, but substance abuse also can lead to depression. In some cases, both are triggered by some external factor.