A closer look at depression: Possible causes, signs, symptoms, and treatment options

When upsetting things happen in life, it’s completely normal to feel down. Everyone experiences feelings of sadness from time to time. But if these feelings continue on a regular basis, it could be a sign that you’re experiencing depression.

Depression can affect your everyday life including relationships, work, and daily activities. Approximately 3.8% of the world’s population experiences depression, and there are many ways to treat the emotional and physical symptoms it causes.

Possible causes of depression

While it can be difficult to pinpoint the exact cause, a variety of social, biological, and psychological factors can contribute to someone developing depression. Some possible causes include:

  • Brain chemistry: Depression can be caused by a chemical imbalance in the parts of the brain that control mood and behavior.
  • Hormones: Changes in the body’s hormone levels can lead to depression, especially in women experiencing their menstrual cycle, postpartum period, perimenopause, or menopause.
  • Family history: Having a relative with depression or another mood disorder can make it more likely that you’ll experience depression.
  • Adverse life events: Experiencing traumatic or stressful life events is a common cause of both anxiety and depression.
  • Health issues: Chronic pain or illness, or major medical conditions such as Parkinson’s disease, stroke, heart attacks, or cancer, can also lead to depression.

As with many other mental disorders, the causes of depression are often tied to other aspects of a person’s health.

Signs & symptoms of depression

Depression usually affects your mood and physical health, but the specific symptoms can differ from person to person. Here are some of the most common signs that you may be experiencing depression:

  • Feeling sad, empty, or hopeless
  • Feeling anxious or restless
  • Feeling annoyed or agitated, even over small things
  • Lack of energy or fatigue
  • Frequent crying
  • Loss of interest in hobbies, sex, or other activities you previously enjoyed
  • Changes in sleeping habits including insomnia or oversleeping
  • Changes in appetite or weight
  • Slowed thinking, speaking, and body movements
  • Difficulty remembering things, concentrating, or making decisions
  • Recurring thoughts of death, suicide, or self-harm

Symptoms of depression can vary between males, females, teens, and children. They can also be more severe or less severe or last longer for some people. If you notice any of these symptoms lasting for more than two weeks, you may be experiencing depression and should speak to your healthcare provider.

Treatment options for depression

There are many effective treatment options for people experiencing depression. Depending on your symptoms, your healthcare provider may recommend one or a combination of the following treatment options:

  • Therapy: Talking to a professional can be incredibly effective in treating depression. If you’re interested in learning more about therapy, StarMed Healthcare has recently launched behavioral health services. Find out more here.
  • Medication: A doctor may prescribe selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs), or tricyclic and tetracyclic antidepressants.
  • Exercise: Exercise can increase endorphins, which are mood-improving hormones in your body. Even 30 minutes of physical activity 3-5 days a week can be beneficial.
  • Eat and drink well: Eat healthy foods and avoid alcohol or other substances that can trigger depression.
  • Take care of yourself: Learning to set boundaries, participating in enjoyable activities, and getting plenty of sleep can all help you feel better.

If you or someone you know is struggling with depression, there is help available. 

At StarMed, we are proud to offer affordable access to behavioral health. With regular counseling sessions, our professional, licensed behavioral health providers are here to help you cope with trauma, manage anxiety and depression, and help you establish internal healing so that you can live the life you’ve always wanted to. Make an appointment today for in-person therapy or virtual sessions via telehealth.