There is no single cause. Genetic factors (more so with bipolar disorders), imbalances of neurotransmitters (natural substances that enable brain cells to communicate), abnormal hormone functioning, physical illness (such as stroke, Alzheimer’s disease, Huntington’s disease, and under-active thyroid), B vitamin deficiencies, and/or certain medications (such as those for hypertension and anxiety, as well as steroid and anti-cancer drugs) can be responsible.
Some depressive episodes appear for no reason. Diminished financial resources and social isolation also can be triggering circumstances. Finally, some depressive episodes are triggered by a stressful event, such as the death of a loved one, retirement, a move to a new area, or a health problem.
In the case of a health problem, it’s particularly important not to accept depression as a natural outcome of the illness. If you do, you may worsen your health condition and be less likely to take care of your physical, mental, and emotional needs. Bring any depressive symptoms to your doctor’s attention and be assertive about getting treatment for depression, independent of the health problem.
Most grief does not result in clinical depression. Eventually the person will begin to make positive plans for the future and begin to enjoy life more.
Questions to Keep in Mind:
- Could my symptoms be the result of a physical illness?
- Could my symptoms be related to seasonal changes, indicating SAD?
- Can I exercise to help my depression?
- Can my family physician treat my illness? If not, can he or she recommend a specialist?
- Could I try psychotherapy alone (without medication) to treat my illness?
- If a medication(s) is prescribed, how long will I need to take it? What are the side effects? Can other medications be considered? What foods and other medications should I stay away from?
- What are the risks of electroconvulsive therapy?
- Will my treatment change as my condition improves?
- After treatment, am I likely to have another episode?