Like most folks, you’ve probably heard depression described as “chemical imbalance.” This explanation can be helpful. For one thing, it removes the stigma that you’re to blame. Depression is not something you can just “snap out of.” However, the chemical imbalance explanation dramatically over-simplifies reality. In doing so, it reduces the likelihood that you’ll explore other possible contributors to the disease.
Yes, chemicals are involved. But almost everything your body does involves chemicals in some way. To truly understand depression — and get the support you need — it’s useful to dig deeper to understand the entire process. That’s where recovery begins.
What Are Some of the Causes of Depression?
Sometimes, the catalyst is something specific that happens in your life. That’s not to say this event solely caused depression but it could be the factor that accelerates it to a diagnosable condition. Such events may include anything (even positive change) that causes a high amount of stress. These could range from getting married or moving to conflict with a person in your life. Other possible catalysts include:
- Too much social isolation (whether it’s by choice or not)
- Loss of a loved one
- Dealing with a medical condition
- Physical, sexual, or emotional abuse
- Drug or alcohol abuse
There are many other possible factors that result in depression. For example, some prescription drugs list depression as a possible side effect. So please talk to your doctor about this in advance. Certain demographics have been found to be at higher risk of depression, e.g. women and the elderly. Personality can play a role, too
People with low self-esteem seem to be more vulnerable. This can be the result of personal experiences but genetics could also contribute to this trend. Do not ignore the element of family history. You don’t “inherit” depression. However, there are signs that certain combinations of genes can increase your risk for depressive episodes.
What NOT to Do If You Suspect You Have Depression
- Resist the Urge to Withdraw: When you’re feeling down, it can feel logical to isolate yourself. This never helps. That said, this is probably not a good time to start creating new relationships and friendships.
- Don’t Assume It Will Just Go Away: Ask for support. Confide in trusted loved ones. Connect with a mental health professional.
- Do Not Try to “Self-Medicate” or Distract Yourself: It could be drinking. You might try video games. Some folks engage in doom-scrolling or fixate on sad music. These are just other forms of counterproductive withdrawal.
- Stop Comparing: It will be tempting to compare yourself to other people you know. If you’re depressed, this will almost certainly lead to more negative thought patterns.
What You Can Do If You Think You’re Depressed
Firstly, you’ll need to find some balance with your online time. Yes, you should educate yourself about depression, its symptoms, and its treatment. That said, you do not want to click and scroll until you find all the bad stories you can about depression. Simply put, if you notice symptoms, look them up. If they seem to be pointing toward depression, immediately seek help from an expert.
In the meantime, get yourself into a daily regimen of self-care. This may involve:
- Getting outside and getting active
- Engage in physical activity and exercise
- Make healthy eating choices
- Regulate your sleep routine so it doesn’t shift in one direction or another
- Find creative ways to express what you’re feeling
- Keep a gratitude journal to remind yourself of what’s good in the world.
Never assume you can recover on your own. Depression is a challenging condition that requires professional support. Let’s connect for a free and confidential consultation on how depression therapy can help you.