Depression: 5 Causes You May Not Know!

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We are Learning More About Depression Everyday

By: Glenn Dillon, LCSW

Depression is a serious mental health condition that causes physical and emotional pain. The disorder is often marked by profound sadness, coupled with feelings of hopelessness and despair. As you probably already know, depression is considered to be a mood disorder that is often referred to by other names, including clinical depression and major depressive disorder. Some forms of depression are episodic while others are more seasonal.

Until recently, it was thought that this disorder was brought on by some type of chemical imbalance in the brain. New research, however, suggests that the actual forces behind depression are much more complicated.

This brief post will explore the topic of depression through the lens of science and present 5 causes of the disorder that you may not know about. Links to related articles will be presented wherever possible. We hope you find this material useful. Are you ready? Let’s jump right in!


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1. Brain swelling

Dr. David Perlmutter, a brain scientist (neurologist) is author of the book, Grain Brain. His research suggests that some forms of depression may be caused by the foods we eat, which in turn cause the brain to swell. The research, according to Perlmutter, indicates that as many as 52% of people who suffer from a mood disorder tend to be gluten-sensitive.

2. Brain shrinking

If brain swelling is a potential cause for depression, it makes sense that brain shrinking could also contribute to this mood disorder. CNN’s Medical Reporter, Dr. Sanjay Gupta recently aired a story showing the relationship between the shrinking brain and depression using MRIs. Be sure to click on the link to the story and read the interview.

3. Heredity

Many have speculated that depression runs in families. The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders points to a family connection. This is particularly true for several of the more prominent mood disorders, like bipolar depression. New research studies involving twins reveals that if one of the pair suffers from depression, there is better than a 50% chance that the other twin will also have the same condition. More twin studies related to depression are happening right now. Stay tuned to Google Scholar for the latest news on this topic and updates.

4. Gender

Gender appears to be a major factor in the onset of depression. According to the current research, 20-25% of all women will experience some form of depression over the course of their lifespan. Compare this statistic to males, who report a much lower incidence of depression at 12%. It is important to bear in mind that men are less likely to report depressive episodes than females. This may be a result of societal norms involving men and gender expectations surrounding emotions.

5. Age

Depression can strike a person at any age, including childhood. There are some risk factors, however, that are thought to contribute to serious, more prolonged episodes of depression. Specifically, if you are a person who is over the age of 65, you may be particularly vulnerable to this mood disorder. Much of that vulnerability relates to the aging process, including loss of people who were once close and a deteriorating physical condition.


Depression is a very serious mental health issue. If left unchecked, it can become debilitating. In some people, it can cause death as a result of self-injury. There are usually a number of tell-tale warning signs that indicate a person may be depressed.

We are including a depression fact sheet that has been published by the National Alliance on Mental Illness. Inside, you will find lots of information about this disorder, including possible treatment options.

Talk therapy has been found to be helpful in the treatment of depression. Therapy is especially helpful as part of a comprehensive clinical approach with your medical doctor. Exercise, physical activity and mindful living have been shown to reduce depressive symptoms in some adults. Some people also benefit from taking depression medications.



If you are looking for more information on depression or are interested in finding out some practical ways to fight back against depression, consider reading the book, Depression for Dummies by Laura Smith. Inside you will find page after page of helpful tips – plus some practical insight on the science of depression. 

If you would like to talk to someone about your depression, please give us a call at 773-528-1777. You can also send us a confidential email through our contact form. If you are concerned that you may hurt yourself, please call 800-273-TALK or dial 911. You can also go to your local emergency room.

Depression is a complicated, multi-factorial issue. We continue to learn more about this disorder with each new day. Thanks for taking time to read this post. We hope you found this information useful. Please Like 2nd Story Counseling on Facebook, Circle us on Google Plus and share on Twitter!