Causes of DepressionQUESTION: What are the causes of depression?ANSWER:
There are numerous causes of depression. Some causes are obvious; others are more subtle. The first step in recognizing depression can be identifying the initial cause. In general, the causes can be physical, mental, emotional, or spiritual. In many cases, these general categories can overlap.
Physical causes of depression include certain medications a person may be taking, such as oral contraceptives and corticosteroids. Other people can be affected by the lack of sunlight they are exposed to in the winter months. Some women become depressed because of the hormone fluctuations that occur during pregnancy, menstrual cycles, or menopause. It is also quite common for a person to become depressed as a result of a chronic illness such as cancer or heart disease.
Stress is the most prevalent mental cause of depression. Stress can come from any aspect of a person's life - a job change, marriage, divorce, pregnancy, or moving to a new city. Some people are able to manage stress better than others, but everyone has a breaking point. If too much stress is happening at once, it can trigger a bout of depression.
Depression can also result from an emotional trauma that takes place in a person's life such as the serious illness or death of a loved one. When a loved one dies, those left behind can feel helpless, hopeless, and lost. It is quite common to see depression set in as a reaction to this type of event. This type of depression can also be a result of a person's feelings of guilt, remorse, or regret for something that has taken place.
Spiritual depression is likely the most subtle cause of all. A person can look at their life and not find anything outwardly wrong, but still experiences a nagging feeling of sadness, loss, or discomfort and have no idea why. Blaise Pascal said that all humans have a "God-shaped void" in their lives. People may use alcohol, money, drugs, sex, food, and a host of other things to try to find fulfillment, but Pascal believes that deep down, everyone is searching for God. So, while on the outside there may be no apparent reason for someone's depression, the lack of a relationship with God on the inside is actually causing great pain.