Physical and Emotional Causes of Depression
Last year, Sean was diagnosed with depression in Houston. Being on medication helped Sean make the first steps toward feeling better. Things were looking up, but being on medication wasn’t enough—Sean had a lot of lingering questions about his depression. Why did he struggle with feeling so low, while his siblings did not? Did something happen to him? Did he do something to cause his own pain?
Sean started sorting through his feelings with a therapist. Patterns in Sean’s relationships and his past began to emerge that helped him understand why he feels down so often. Sean also learned about the biological components of depression. For the first time, Sean began to believe that his depression wasn’t his fault; he believed he really could feel better.
Depression is a complex disorder. There’s rarely one direct cause you can pinpoint. Because depression is often the sum of a variety of factors, it can feel confusing and shameful when you’re depressed. In truth, there are many reasons for your depression.
What are common causes of depression?
Depression has biological and psychological causes, but what’s true in most cases is that you’ve lost touch with your ability to access your emotions. Maybe your emotions are overwhelming to you. This can happen in the case of subtle psychological traumas. Trauma might include a car accident, war, natural disaster, physical or sexual abuse, or a crime. However, trauma can occur over time and occur in less obvious ways. If you were punished for feeling sad, bullied or neglected or criticized on a consistent basis, you may have also experienced trauma.
Early Attachment Relationships
As young children, we are dependent on our caregivers to provide for us, but also to feel safe, valuable, worthwhile and lovable. Sometimes, it’s difficult for our caregivers to provide those emotional needs. Perhaps they themselves are depressed and don’t have the energy, are stressed and have limited time, don’t know how to recognize emotions, or in worse case scenarios are abusive.
When our emotions, needs, and desires aren’t acknowledged, it can lead us to feel that it must be our fault. This is common for children to assume as it’s important to keep the outside world safe – so the inside must be bad. We falsely assume that we’re unworthy, unlovable or unimportant, which can contribute to negative beliefs about oneself. Negative beliefs about ourselves can contribute to depression. Furthermore, our natural emotions, needs and desires may also be repressed (as “wrong”), which further contributes to depression. When emotions are pushed down it can lead to the numbness that characterizes depression.
Major Life Changes
The death of a loved one or the loss of a job can stir up self-blaming thoughts. When something big in your life has changed, it can be hard to stop the cycle of negative feelings. Maybe a divorce brings up old feelings of inadequacy you’ve been harboring for many years. Even positive life changes, like a big move or a child going to college, can trigger a depressive episode. Sometimes, the anticipation of loss can trigger depression as you anticipate the pain you might experience. Medical issues such as chronic illness, can also trigger depression as you feel a loss of control over significant aspects of your life.
From adolescence, you’ve likely dealt with pressure to look or behave a certain way. If you feel like your efforts to fit in or please others go unnoticed, you might start to blame yourself. You might give up hope. Physical expectations in particular are difficult to manage—if you’re depressed and feeling bad about how you look, getting out for exercise can be really hard, and the healthy foods just don’t sound as comforting. This can all lead to a cycle of depression where you feel inadequate and unmotivated. It can be difficult to get unstuck on your own.
If a sibling or parent suffers from depression, you have a greater chance of experiencing it yourself. If feeling depressed is in your gene pool, it could be much harder for you to bounce back from a difficult time in your life than for someone else going through the same thing.
Researchers have shown that there are real, biological differences in the brains of people who are and are not depressed. Biological depression can hang over your life like a dark cloud, following you whether you exercise, eat well, or meditate. Imbalanced chemicals in your mind can make you feel bad no matter what’s actually going on in your life. It can feel like you’re never going to get better. Keep in mind that just because it feels this way, doesn’t mean it will be this way.
When you’re unhappy or anxious, it can be tempting to turn to what seem like instant pick-me-ups. The truth is that alcohol and certain drugs often make you feel worse and can cause feelings of depression. Dependence on substances can make you feel angry at yourself or like you’re out of control. Simply wanting to escape from a cycle of addiction isn’t enough to shake it; you get drawn back in.
What Can I Do?
Depression is really hard and it hurts. Talking to someone about what you’re feeling and asking questions about why you’re feeling that way can help you find peace. Therapy might involve addressing many of the factors above and helping you heal your unique situation. Though it may feel overwhelming, therapy can help you develop new beliefs about yourself, feel and cope with overwhelming emotions, change the “wiring” of your brain, and determine if medication would be appropriate for you.
To get started now give us a call to schedule an appointment at 832-559-2622 or schedule an appointment online.
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Tags: self improvement