Depression - What causes depression?
What causes depression?
There is no single cause. Different things can cause depression for different people. This section looks at some of the things that might increase your risk.
Hormones and chemicals
Changes in your hormones can affect your mood. Women might notice these changes when they are pregnant, during menopause or during their menstrual cycle. For example these changes can result in a disorder called premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD). This disorder has a lot of psychological symptoms similar to depression and can cause suicidal thoughts.
Having problems with your thyroid may be linked to low mood and increased risk of depression symptoms.
You are at more of a risk of developing depression if you have low levels of certain B vitamins such as B12.
Depression can run in families. This could be because:
- it is passed down in your genes, or
- your mother had depression when you were growing up.
Your background or situation
Problems during your childhood may increase your chances of having depression. Bad experiences can lead to you thinking negative thoughts about yourself or about the world.
Stressful events, such as problems at home or work, a relationship ending or financial issues may make it more likely you will get depression.
Having a balanced diet, exercising regularly, avoiding smoking and doing hobbies can help your mental health.
Drugs, alcohol use and smoking
Both legal and illegal drugs can affect your mental health. If you take prescribed medications, make sure you take them in the way your doctor suggests.
If you drink regularly or misuse alcohol you are at a greater risk of developing depression. There may be a link between cigarettes and depression.
You may feel low if you have a physical illness. This risk might be higher if you have a long-term or life-threatening illness. Some people with brain injuries and dementia will also have changes in their moods.
Need practical advice & info? We can help.
Contact our Advice team about mental health & related issues
0300 5000 927 Monday - Friday 9.30am - 4pm, not including bank holidays