What Causes Depression?

Updated: Feb 15

There is a common thought that depression comes just from a chemical imbalance in the brain, meaning too much or too little of certain chemicals. I believe that it is a little more complex than that.

Certain events can have lasting physical and emotional consequences. Researchers have found that early losses and emotional trauma may leave individuals more vulnerable to depression later in life.

Well, it certainly did for me. I remember at an early age when my grandad took his own life. He called the family home, but my parents were out. He asked me to tell my father that he had called and that it was important, but at an early age of eleven, I had fallen asleep before he got home. When I remembered the next day, it was too late.

I will never forget the look my father gave me as tears ran down his face. He slid down the wall while receiving the call to inform him that his dad had already taken his own life. I am sure he did not mean to blame me, but I felt it all the same. Research has shown that early losses, such as the death or the withdrawal of a loved one's affection, may resonate throughout life, eventually expressing themselves as depression later in life.

This came true for me on the 17th of February 2007, the day my brother and best friend were killed on the road, on the way to my house. It was a motorbike accident, and it was me who introduced him to motorbikes. I received the same look again from my father but this time he also verbalised his feeling by telling me that I should have died, not my brother.

Harvard Education states: ‘When an individual is unaware of the wellspring of his or her illness, he or she cannot easily move past the depression. Moreover, unless the person gains a conscious understanding of the source of the condition, later losses or disappointments may trigger its return. Many researchers believe that early trauma causes subtle changes in brain function that account for symptoms of depression and anxiety. The key brain regions involved in the stress response may be altered at the chemical or cellular level.’

I can totally resonate with this statement and thankfully have more of an understanding of how that one event left me feeling unloved, rejected, and unworthy. I started therapy in 2015, which was a very hard process. I quit a few times because I could not accept that the experiences I had been through were not all my fault. But now, it’s been great to be able to let go of the past, move forward and inwardly thank and forgive my father instead of thinking that he hated me. He was simply going through so much pain but did not know how to deal with it.

Research has proven that stress can supress the production of new nerve cells, reducing the production of the chemicals required to keep us emotionally well. Antidepressants boost the concentration but are not an instant fix- nothing is. I’ve found that doing the inner work has helped me heal faster and not be so prone to being triggered.

Depression does not have to stop you living your day if it’s managed; it will just make things feel like more of a struggle. It can be like pushing a snowball up a hill sometimes. But if you take consistent action by taking one daily step forward and working harder on your personal development than you do anything else, you will achieve your goals.

Please do not try to battle alone. Remember that you are enough, you are loved and you are not alone.

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