Do we really know what causes depression? It is well known that depression is a brain illness and modern medical technologies discovered objective factors responsible for development of this illness. Thanks to modern medical technologies (mainly magnetic resonance imaging – MRI) it was discovered that the brains of healthy women look different comparing with brains of depression sufferers. The brain of women suffering from depression looks different in very specific areas of the brain – areas responsible for mood, sleep, thoughts, appetite and behavior. Actually it was noted that mentioned areas do not function normally (most probably because of disbalance of neurotransmitters, responsible for brain cells “communication”). So depression is kind of “chaos” in our brain. But why it is happening?
Although the real causes of depression are still not known, most medical professional confirm that depression is caused by a combination of factors including genetic, biochemical, environmental, psychological factors and personal life experiences.
In most cases depression is triggered by dramatic stressful events – serious illnesses, the loss of loved once, sexual and/or physical abuse, difficult complicated relations (without any visible/possible solutions), social pressure and abusive life conditions.
Some types of depression could be noted in the same family in different generations. At the same time depression could be diagnosed in families without any history of depression. Scientists, who believe in genetic theory of depression, presently studying certain genes that may make some people more prone to depression – they indicate that risk for depression results from the influence of several genes acting together with different social and environmental risk factors.
What causes depression in women?
General depression risk factors
- Stress including post-traumatic stress disorder;
- Depression in family (parents, sisters, brothers, cousins, grandparent, uncles, aunts);
- Mental illnesses including anxiety disorders, obsessive-compulsive disorder, panic disorder;
- Somatic diseases including heart disease, stroke cancer, diabetes, Parkinson’s disease and HIV/AIDS;
- Loss of loved once
- Sexual abuse (including rape);
- Physical or family abuse;
- Difficult complicated relations (without any visible/possible solutions);
- Social pressure (including religious and cultural demands);
- Social phobia combined with decreased self-esteem;
- Alcohol and/or drug abuse;
- Bad and abusive life conditions (poverty, vulnerable groups).
Depression causes in women
It is well known that depression is more common among women than among men – biological differences, hormonal and psychosocial factors, life and menstrual cycles are responsible for higher depression rate in women. There are several complicated life conditions which can be experienced only by women.
For example, many women are pretty vulnerable to developing postpartum depression after giving birth, when hormonal and physical changes and the new responsibility of caring for a newborn can be overwhelming.
Women are also pretty vulnerable to developing the depression during premenstrual period – this why many women suffer from mood swings during mentioned period. Some women could also suffer from severe form of premenstrual syndrome (so called premenstrual dysphoric disorder – PMDD) which associated with the hormonal changes that typically occur during ovulation and/or during 5-7 days before menstruation begins.
Premenopause and menopause are also very specific periods of women life when they become very vulnerable for development of depression. These are periods of dramatic hormonal changes and osteoporosis which can easily trigger depression during menopause.
Medical scientists demonstrated that hormones directly affect the brain chemistry that controls emotions and mood. Cyclical rise and fall of female hormones (estrogens, progesterone) could affect women’s brain chemistry. “Chemical chaos” in brain can lead to depression in women.
Another factors, which are making women vulnerable for depression development, are social pressure at work and family, pregnancy, caring for children and aging parents, abuse and poverty. It was proved that social pressure and abuse are the most risky factors for depression in women.
Depression risk factors in women
- Genetics factors – family history of depression;
- Hormonal factors – menstrual cycle changes, pregnancy, miscarriage, postpartum period, premenopause and menopause;
- Stress – stressful life, complicated stressful relations, emotional trauma, pressure at work place, difficult and complicated career development, sexual abuse at work place, etc.
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