Depression is a complex illness that is often caused by multiple factors. As a counselor, it is important to explore the underlying causes of the depression my clients are experiencing, in order to develop a treatment plan that will be uniquely effective for them.
Medical research has identified several major causes of clinical depression, and in my experience as a counselor, I have seen these causes manifest into depressive symptoms in my clients.
Abuse: This is one of the most common causes of depression. Physical, sexual, and/or emotional abuse can leave scars that take time to heal. Abuse can lead to depression, anti-social behaviors, addiction and other coping mechanisms, including abuse of others.
Conflicts, major changes, life stressors: This is a large category. Someone who is undergoing conflict or dispute, especially in the family, can experience depression. Major changes can cause imbalance that leads to depression, even positive ones such as marriage or a new baby in the house. Major stress in home life or at work can also lead susceptible people to depression.
Death or loss: It is natural to feel sad for an extended time after the death of a loved one, loss of a job, or other major blow. When sadness goes on for an extended time or deteriorates into not caring for oneself, loss of interest in life, mood swings, anger, or isolation, it is time to seek help.
Family History: Those with a family history of depression are more susceptible to experiencing depression when other factors are present, such as stress, abuse, or loss. Sometimes, however, a biological tendency toward depression may be the cause when a person shows signs of depression but there are no seemingly obvious triggers for these negative feelings.
Medication: For many medications, depression is a possible side effect. People should be watched closely when they begin medications that have this side effect and help should be sought immediately if depression occurs.
Depression looks different in different people
Although there are variations across groups, often there are themes that resonate as consistent for people experiencing depression. If you are concerned about your own depressive thoughts and feelings or feel worried about a loved one, reach out for help.