The causes of depression are complex. They can involve your genetics, brain chemistry, hormones, life experiences, and more. Many of the risk factors for depression are things you’d probably expect, such as drug abuse, low self-esteem, and traumatic events.
However, there are some possible causes for depression that you may not know about. And getting to the bottom of what triggered your depression is a good first step towards overcoming it. So if you or someone you care about is struggling with depression, here are some of the lesser-known causes.
It may surprise you to learn that depression and pain are closely related. Firstly, depression can cause physical symptoms like back pain or headaches, or make an existing pain feel more intense.
But pain can also contribute to depression. For example, if you’re dealing with a chronic pain that just won’t go away, it can wear you down and affect your mood over time. Also, pain can contribute to depression indirectly, such as by causing sleep problems or by preventing you from working.
Depression and pains can also feed into each other in a vicious cycle; The pain makes your depression worse, and then your worsened depression makes your pain more intense.
So if you have a nagging injury or unexplained chronic pain, you should speak to your doctor. They can help you get to the root cause of the pain and stop it from contributing to depression.
You may be familiar with Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), a form of depression that’s triggered by changes in seasons. For most people affected by SAD, it strikes at the beginning of winter. And that makes sense intuitively; As the weather gets colder and the days get shorter, some people come down with the “winter blues”.
But what you might not know is that, for some people, summer can also bring on SAD. That’s because what really causes SAD is the change in seasons, as that can throw off your body’s internal clock.
In the summer, the increased sunlight can affect your sleeping patterns and reduce the production of mood-regulating hormones. This can cause insomnia, loss of appetite, and depression.
In addition, it’s been shown that the summer heat can further impact the mood of people with depression by increasing their anxiety and agitation. If you think you’re experiencing summer-onset SAD, you can try limiting your exposure to bright light and cranking up the air conditioning.
Too Much Social Media
There are many studies that suggest spending too much time on social media can be associated with depression. And experts say this is especially true for teenagers and children.
One of the suspected reasons is that “social media addicts” tend to struggle more with face-to-face interactions and have a lack of companionship in real life.
Another issue that experts point to is “downward social comparison.” That means that when you see social media posts that depict other people’s lives as perfect, it can lead you to develop an unrealistic view of the world and think your life sucks in comparison.
While there have been many studies showing that a connection between depression and social media exists, most of those studies were unable to show a causal link. That means the findings didn’t show whether social media actually makes people develop depression, or if depressed people just tend to use social media more frequently.
However, one recent study did establish that causal link. It showed that people who cut back drastically on their use of social media tend to see a significant improvement in their mood and how they feel about their lives.
There are a wide variety of drugs that can contribute to depression. With some drugs, this side effect is well known and probably won’t surprise you. That includes alcohol or birth control pills. However, there are many other drugs on the list that you might not expect. Just some examples include:
Anticonvulsants: A type of drug used to control epileptic seizures.
Beta-blockers: A group of medicines used to treat high blood pressure, heart problems, and migraines.
Opioids: A type of painkiller that includes Percodan, Demerol, and OxyContin.
Chantix: A medication used to aid in smoking cessation.
All of the drugs above alter your brain chemicals in some way as part of the desired effect, but they can also carry the risk of side effects like depression.
If you think one of your medications may be causing you to experience depression, don’t stop taking it. Instead, speak to your doctor. They can help you weigh the risk vs. the benefit of each of your medications, or offer you alternative options.
Your thyroid is a gland in your neck that secretes hormones. These hormones are used to regulate your metabolism and energy levels, and it affects a variety of vital systems throughout the body.
When the thyroid isn’t functioning normally and it doesn’t produce enough hormones, that’s called hypothyroidism. This condition makes your body’s internal systems to slow down, leading to a variety of symptoms that are similar to depression. That includes:
- Depressed mood
- Trouble concentrating
- Weight gain
- Lowered sexual desire
However, there are some differences in the symptoms that may give you a clue that you’re dealing with hypothyroidism and not depression.
Some symptoms that are more likely in hypothyroidism include:
- Sensitivity to cold
- Dry skin and hair
- Hair loss
- Slowed heart rate
So if you think you may have hypothyroidism, talk to your doctor. They can take a blood test that can confirm it or rule it out.
Don’t Wait to Get Help
People suffering from depression often put off seeking treatment, for a number of reasons. One survey of people with depression found that one of the most common reasons is the belief that treatment won’t help.
However, getting help through a mental health program can be very effective at treating depression. It can help you get to the root of your issues, provide emotional support, improve your outlook, provide medication to solve chemical imbalances and change the thought patterns and behaviors that contribute to depression.
So don’t hesitate to seek help! At Activa Clinics, we have a team of psychologists, psychotherapists, counsellors, and social workers who can provide a variety of mental health services. Contact us to learn more and take the first step towards beating your depression.