Sometimes there may be an obvious reason for becoming depressed, sometimes not. There is usually more than one cause and different people have different reasons.

It may seem obvious why – a relationship breakdown, bereavement or even the birth of a child – but sometimes it’s not clear. Either way, it can become so bad that you need help.

Often people don’t realise how depressed they are, because the depression has come on gradually. They may try to struggle on and cope by keeping busy. This can make them even more stressed and exhausted. This can cause physical pains, such as constant headaches, or sleeplessness.

Some of the more common factors involved in depression are:

* Family history. Genetics play an important part in depression. It can run in families for generations.

* Trauma and stress. Things like financial problems, the breakup of a relationship, or the death of a loved one can bring on depression. You can become depressed after changes in your life, like starting a new job, graduating from school, or getting married.

* Pessimistic personality. People who have low self-esteem and a negative outlook are at higher risk of becoming depressed. These traits may actually be caused by low-level depression (called dysthymia).

* Physical conditions. Serious medical conditions like heart disease, cancer, and HIV can contribute to depression, partly because of the physical weakness and stress they bring on. Depression can make medical conditions worse, since it weakens the immune system and can make pain harder to bear. In some cases, depression can be caused by medications used to treat medical conditions.

* Other psychological disorders. Anxiety disorders, eating disorders, schizophrenia, and (especially) substance abuse often appear along with depression.


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