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What Exactly Causes Depression?

Updated: Jul 15, 2023

What Exactly Causes Depression?

We had discussed coping with depression a few months back . Today. Let’s try to dive deep and understand what causes depression.

You might’ve heard that depression is caused by the presence or lack of certain hormones. Well, it isn’t that simple. Then, what exactly causes depression? Let’s find out.

Okay, hormones are involved in this but we can’t give them all the credit. It is probably caused due to a combination of things instead of just one thing.

Though Scientists still have a long way to go in understanding depression and its causes, they’ve made huge strides in understanding the biology of depression. Let’s check out a few things that they’ve learned.

Brain and Depression

Brain and depression

We’ve always said and believed that our emotions reside in the heart. However, it’s actually the brain that regulates our emotions. Now. let’s check out the areas of the brain that are known to be linked with depression.

  • Basal Ganglia: "Basal ganglia" is a group of subcortical nuclei that function primarily in motor control, motor learning, executive functions, and emotions. People with depression have been found to have shrinkage and other structural changes in the basal ganglia.

  • Amygdala: It is an almond-shaped structure situated just below the uncus in the temporal lobe. The amygdala becomes active when a memory with strong emotional content, such as a terrifying experience, is recalled. So it becomes very active when a person is depressed and it continues to be so even after the person has recovered from depression.

  • Hippocampus: It is a complex brain structure that plays a major role in learning and memory. Research suggests that exposure to long-term stress affects the growth of neurons in this region of the brain and thus, the hippocampus is found to be smaller in some depressed people.

But wait! The above-mentioned parts of the brain are not the only things that are responsible for depression. Let’s check out some other factors that cause depression.

Genetic Factors

Genetic Factors

We know that certain diseases are genetically inherited. Is depression one of those diseases? Yes, in some cases. While some people may inherit genes that make them vulnerable to depression, they might not suffer from it.


Some hormonal changes are found to occur in people with depression. The over-production of certain hormones such as progesterone and the under-production of certain hormones like testosterone might lead to depression.

Psychological Factors

Certain psychological factors such as thinking patterns, stress, and loss also play a major role in the occurrence of depression.



The following thinking patterns are associated with depression:

  • Have strict and inflexible rules on how to behave

  • Focusing too much on the negative aspects

  • Taking responsibility only for bad events’

  • Thinking that you know others’ thoughts and that they are thinking badly of you.


A lot of stressful events in one’s life can lead to depression. Things that might induce stress include financial difficulties, unemployment, physical illness, etc.



Sometimes people experience loss which causes grief. And the grief brought about by this loss can lead to depression in some people. It can be the loss of a job, a pet or even a loved one.


Now, that we’ve looked at certain factors that are associated with depression, you might have a better idea of what depression is. It’s not something that’s just in one’s head or something that one can snap out of easily.

It’s an illness caused by a combination of several factors. If you or someone you know suffers from depression, it is better to get professional help.

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