Where Depression Comes From

Where Depression Comes From

If you're wanting to understand depression better, it is useful to understand where depression comes from.

Especially, if you or someone you know might be suffering from depression, it's natural to ask yourself: where it might have come from.

According to research, as many as 30% of Americans had dealt with depression by 2019. 

While people often tie depression with traumatic events, it's important to remember the difference between grief and depression. 

Grief can occur over the loss of a loved one or the sadness that typically follows a traumatic life event. 

While depression is much more linked to self-loathing or loss of self-esteem.

Depression isn't just persistently lonely or sad. 

It is associated with a diverse and widespread set of symptoms and effects on both your mind and your body.

Such effects could include mood changes, such as a higher likelihood of becoming angry or crying; a loss of interest in the activities that you usually enjoy; feelings of emptiness or loneliness; chronic physical pain or achiness; difficulty concentrating or remembering things; an inability to concentrate; a decrease in energy and/or increase in fatigue.

If you are experiencing these effects, then you might be suffering from depression

You might also be wondering where depression comes from. 

It is natural to experience thoughts of self-blame. 

But, having depression isn't your fault. 

This is why it's important to understand where depression comes from. 

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Enter Where Depression Comes From: Family History

One of the biggest places that depression comes from is your family history. 

If someone in your family has had depression, that makes it more likely that you will too. 

This is because there are genetic risks for depression and other mood disorders.

Depression can have genetic causes and having a family member with depression can significantly increase your chances of having depression. 

But, the causes aren't only genetic: other parts of your family history might cause depression. 

Childhood trauma has been known to permanently cause the body to become defensive and fearful which can trigger depression. 

That means that if your depression comes from family trauma, then other family members will be affected as well.

Socioeconomic background and situation have also been linked to depression. 

If your family lived in poverty and lacked food or housing security, then this could be where your depression comes from. 

The psychological damage and scarcity mindset that develops when living in poverty is not something that is undone easily. 

Where Depression Comes From: Illness and Health Issues

Depression can come from illness and health issues. 

Depression is often linked with brain chemistry: chemical imbalances in the brain can lead to changes in thoughts, mood, appetite, sleep patterns.

Changes in hormone levels can also lead to depression. 

Women are much more likely to experience depression than men are. 

And, depression has been linked to disruptions in the menstrual cycle, postpartum depression, and menopause.

In fact, menopause has been shown to raise a woman's risk for depression.

There are chronic illnesses that raise your chance of getting depression: insomnia, stroke, heart disease, cancer, Parkinson's disease, and chronic illness. 

If you're suffering from one of these it might be where your depression came from. 

Where Depression Comes From: Medication, drug use, alcohol

People with alcohol or substance abuse problems are often at a higher risk of developing depression. 

Studies show that an estimated one-third of people with depression also abuse alcohol or other drugs.

Depression can also cause substance abuse: people who are suffering from depression may abuse alcohol or other drugs in order to artificially elevate their moods or to numb feelings of loneliness, sadness, guilt, despair, and hopelessness. 

Unfortunately, alcohol and other drugs often only intensify these feelings. 

Particularly when "coming off" of a substance: you may experience a feeling of depression because of physical withdrawal or what substance abuse has turned your life into.

If you're struggling with depression and a substance abuse issue, don't lose hope: there are many integrated treatment options that will help you with both. 

Many people find intensive inpatient treatment can assist with both depression and substance abuse.

Where Depression Comes From: Personality

Where depression comes from might be due to innate qualities that are often referred to as your personality. 

A personality trait is a stable or relatively unchangeable aspect of who you are.

Research has shown clear links between depression and certain personality traits. 

These include neuroticism, conscientiousness (how thoughtful and self-aware someone is), extraversion and sociability. 

Studies show that people who exhibit neurotic characteristics as teenagers are much more likely to develop both depression and anxiety.

The Personality Types of Depression

There are also certain personality types that are more likely to develop depression:

People who suffer from general anxiety are much more likely to develop depression. 

This can also be thought of as someone who is paranoid, overly nervous, and has a tendency to take minor issues too seriously.

People who are "hypersensitive" to the judgment of others. 

This could be someone who feels abandoned or criticized. 

The hyper-sensitive typically tends to overeat when experiencing depression. These foods help numb the fear that accompanies this personality type.

People who were neglected or abused growing up often repeat these abusive cycles in their own life: this can lead them to develop depression.

Perfectionists who never feel satisfied with their work or are stuck in long-term procrastination might develop depression about not reaching their goals. 

Research shows that perfectionists are often prone to self-criticism and a lack of self-pride.

Self-focused people who blame others when things go wrong, put their own needs first, and are often hostile or volatile with others might be doing so because of depression. 

This personality type is most likely to show depression through irritability or emotional outbursts.


No matter where depression comes from, the most important thing is to get it treated.

Hopefully, this article gave you a few possible sources for your struggle. 

Most importantly, hopefully, this article leads you to not blame yourself that you're depressed.

This is often an important first step in seeking treatment and getting your life back.

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June 6th, 2023

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