Why Am I Depressed? Causes and Symptoms of Depression

By Val Silver

Sometimes, the answer to the question "Why am I depressed" is obvious. You are going through a relationship breakup, just got a scary diagnosis, lost a loved one, or suffered an emotional trauma.  Other times, the reasons you feel down in the dumps are not obvious. All you know is that you feel sad, uninterested in your usual activities, hopeless, and negative about life in general. After weeks or months of feeling this way, you worry that your suffering is deepening and going on too long. You want to feel better and get your life back. Discovering your reasons for depression is a positive step in that direction.

What Causes Depression?

Experts traditionally suggest two main causes of depression.

One common explanation is a stress-induced imbalance in the neurotransmitters in the brain.

Another accepted cluster of reasons center around heredity factors, hormonal imbalance after pregnancy, and not enough sunlight in winter months.  Less sunshine and time outdoors can give us the blues. 

As researchers gain a better understanding of how the brain responds and encodes information, other explanations are emerging.

For example, experts now know there is no overlap between stress genes and depressive genes. This is most important because popular drug treatments are often aimed at the wrong target. This explains why people being medically treated for depression seldom get relief. Antidepressants generally address the stress connection, which may be unrelated to what is causing your depression. It may even have side effects that make you feel worse.

Some studies even show that the control group receiving sugar pills fared better than the group taking medication. It appears that 75% of the positive effects of taking drugs have been duplicated by those taking a placebo.

Physical Causes of Depression

According to psychiatrist Dr. Daniel Amen, both anxiety and depression are symptoms of an underlying issue, not a diagnosis. His work with SPECT brain imaging showed that a traumatic injury to the brain is a common reason for depression.

He also found that too much, or too little, activity in the frontal lobes can make you feel down. With too little activity, your negative feelings are hard to control. When it is hyperactive, you have trouble controlling your bad thoughts.

Exposure to toxins and poor lifestyle behaviors may lead to, or exacerbate, feelings of depression. Vitamin D deficiency, chronic inflammation, and/or unbalanced gut flora are other contributing factors.  Several large studies show that people who sit too much or too long, even if they are busy, have higher rates of anxiety and depression. 

Dr. Carolyn Dean explains that the the answer to the "why am I depressed" question may lie with sleep deprivationlack of nutrients, and/or underlying inflammation or infection including candida yeast overgrowth. She suggests that magnesium may be a missing ingredient in your recovery.

Other physical causes of depression include hormone imbalances, a Vitamin D deficiency, and not getting enough sunshine.

Why Am I Depressed? Emotional Causes

Loneliness, a history of childhood trauma, negative ruminations, and chronic stress are common emotional causes of feeling depressed.

American psychiatrist David Viscott explains the downward emotional spiral like this:

what causes depression, causes of depression

Explore the connection between anger and depression here.

Dr. Deepak Chopra offers a mind body perspective to the "Why am I depressed" question. He explains why people feel in three steps:

First, an earlier outside cause - repeated, unpredictable negative events stress you out, especially when you feel powerless. For example, rats exposed to unavoidable random shocks give up, act lethargic and helpless, and eventually die.

Next, how you respond to that first cause determines how your brain processes it.

When you paint everything as dark, and accept your first reaction of sadness or hopelessness as 'your final answer', it reinforces that feeling. Feeling down fuels more depressed feelings.

This kind of inner self-talk, with its accompanying emotions, causes your brain to create neural pathways that accommodate this type of response. Not only does your brain deepen and strengthen the pathway associated with feeling depressed every time you use it, but it takes the building blocks from other areas that aren't being used much. This process can happen quite quickly.

Finally, your critical, sad, dark responses become a habit, much like an addiction, once the neural pathways are fixed. An outside cause, or trigger, is no longer needed to elicit the "I feel depressed" response. You may even feel down at happy events. When you ask yourself, "Why am I depressed?", you may have no obvious explanation. Feeling down in the dumps fuels more depressed feelings.

Other emotional causes of depression include feeling you are living without meaning or purpose. Perhaps, you are having a crisis of the soul. You wonder, "What is the purpose of my life?" or "Why am I here?" and you have no good answer. Such a crisis feels depressing, but if you explore these questions and take them as a charge to explore your choices and make new ones that are aligned with the calling of your heart, this can be a journey out of darkness into profound inner transformation and joy.

Symptoms of Depression

If you experience four or more of the following symptoms for more than a week or two, you may be suffering from depression. 

  • trouble sleeping, 
  • no interest in things, 
  • avoiding or withdrawing from friends and family
  • seeing life in negative light,
  • low energy, 
  • guilt, 
  • trouble concentrating, 
  • no appetite,
  • drastic change in weight,
  • physical motor skills and balance may be 'off'. 
  • you want to hurt yourself and/or have suicidal thoughts.

If your symptoms are severe, and/or you are considering suicide, consult a health professional immediately.

If your symptoms are mild to moderate and you are not considering suicide, you may be able to get over your depression with self-help techniques and natural remedies.  Just about everyone has emotional dips at times. 

Answering the "Why am I depressed?" question may take some detective work. Knowing whether the cause of your sadness and lethargy is physical or because of negative mindset patterns and troublesome emotions that create undesirable changes in your brain may not be easy to discern. Other times, you can trace back to an injury or toxic exposure of some kind. 

Just about everyone has emotional dips at times. Feeling blue for an extended period of time after a serious upset or loss is normal and to be expected. It does not always mean you have a medical problem. When this emotional response short-circuits and goes on 'too long', it may be time to find a way out of the black hole and seek help.

Continue Reading

Source: https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/depression/index.shtml

Why Am I Depressed - updated 04/2020

For Educational Purposes Only. This information has not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. It is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease or medical condition. Please consult with your health provider before using natural remedies and/or complementary therapies if you are pregnant, nursing, or you are being treated for a medical condition. Be aware that certain herbs and supplements interact with medications.

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