Various reasons may lead to depression. In some cases, this mental condition may run in families, which has made researchers question whether the tendency towards depression can be inherited. According to existing studies, this can actually be true, especially when it comes to manic depression, also known as bipolar disorder (BPD).
Depression and Genetics
There are a number of studies looking at potential connection between bipolar disorder and genetics. They involved families with several generations of this mental health disorder, and found some differences in the genes of those who have bipolar disorder and those who don’t.
It is also possible that a person has the genes for bipolar disorder, but does not actually develop the condition. This may depend on various factors, including stresses at home, work or school.
Such a condition as major depression may affect generations of families, as well, but it is also relatively common among those who do not have any family history of depression. The development of major depression is rather caused by certain changes in brain structure or function.
Depression is also likely to affect people with low self-esteem and pessimistic way of thinking who can get stressed easily. This mental disorder may also occur as a result of some physical changes happened in the body. For instance, based on research, people with cancer, Parkinson’s disease, hormonal disorder and those who went through stroke or heart attack are likely to develop depression. External stress-factors that may also trigger depressive episodes include complicated or abuse relationship, serious loss or financial problems.
Thus, the potential causes of depression rather include a combination of genetic, physical, psychological and environmental factors.
What Is Female Depression Caused by?
According to studies, depression tends to develop in women two times more often than in men. Such a tendency may be explained by hormonal changes affecting women that are associated with menstrual cycles, pregnancy, miscarriage, postpartum period, pre-menopause and menopause. There are also some environmental factors that may contribute to the development of depression, including responsibilities both at work and home, single parenthood and caring for children or aging parents.
Postpartum depression is a phenomenon that occurs in women around the world. Specialists believe that this type of depression can be triggered by the hormonal, physical and emotional changes associated with pregnancy and childbirth. And while having some periods of sadness is normal for new mothers, full depressive episodes are not and require medical intervention. In order to avoid the risk of complications, depression has to be treated properly with a help of specialists. As for family and friends, it is also important to minimize stress factors and provide a new mother with emotional support, which will help her recover her general well-being. As soon as she gets back to normal, she will also be able to start truly caring and enjoying her child.
What Is Male Depression Caused by?
Although depression is not as common among men, as it is among women, estimated three to four million men in the United States suffer from this mental condition. However, these numbers may actually be higher, as not all men admit having depression, and even less seek help.
Speaking about suicide attempts, these rates are also higher among female population, unlike the rates of committed suicides that are higher in men. The suicide rates increase after the age of 65, and raise even more among white men older than 85.
Another difference between male and female depression lies in the way this condition affects the physical health of a person. According to one study, depression in men may be followed by coronary heart disease, which increases the death rate among male population. Besides, men would often hide their depression in alcohol, drugs or working excessively long hours.
When it comes to the emotional side of depressive disorder, a lot of men feel irritable, angry and discouraged, unlike women who often feel hopeless and helpless. Fortunately, at the workplace, there are employee assistance professionals or worksite mental health programs, designed to help men admit having depression and understand how important a proper treatment is.
How Does Depression Affect the Elderly?
Depression may also develop among the elderly population, and some people perceive it as something normal when it comes to aging. However, while it is OK to feel sad from time to time, it is not OK to experience full depressive episodes at this age. In many cases, elderly people are not open to bringing up their emotions, which is why they often tell their doctor only about the physical symptoms caused by the condition.
What you also need to know about depression in the elderly is that some symptoms of it may develop as side effects of certain medications or they may be caused by other illnesses. Once you are diagnosed with depression, it is important to come up with the right treatment. Depression can be treated with medication or psychotherapy. The latter is a good alternative, in case a person cannot or refuses to take medication.
How Common Is Depression Among Children?
In children, depression may appear in different ways: some children pretend they are sick and refuse to go to school or kindergarten, some may cling to a parent worrying that the parent may die. Depressed teenagers may often feel lonely and misunderstood, which leaves them in a bad mood and makes them get into troubles at school.
In fact, it is often hard to detect depression in children, since this is a period where a child’s behavior varies depending on the childhood stage. Therefore, it is important for the parents to pay attention to any changes affecting their children.
If you suspect that your child is depressed, make sure you visit a pediatrician. The healthcare provider will evaluate the condition of your child and probably forward you to a child psychologist or psychiatrist. As for the treatment of depressive episodes in children, it usually involves psychotherapy or medications. Keep in mind that you should take much care giving any antidepressant medications to your child.