However, all so-called "psychological problems" have some physical manifestations, and all physical
illnesses have psychological components as well.
- In fact, the chemical imbalances that occur during depression usually disappear when you
complete therapy for depression, without taking any medications to correct the imbalance.
- This suggests that the imbalance is the body's physical response to psychological depression,
rather than the other way around - in most instances.
- Some types of depression do seem to run in families, which suggests a biological vulnerability.
This often seems to be the case with bipolar depression and, to a lesser degree, severe major
- Studies of families, in which members of each generation develop bipolar disorder, found that
those with bipolar disorder have a somewhat different genetic makeup than those who are not
- However, the reverse is not true. Not everybody with the genetic makeup that causes this
vulnerability to bipolar disorder develops the disorder.
- Additional factors, such as stress and other psychological factors, are involved in its onset as
- Likewise, major depression also seems to occur, generation after generation, in some families,
but not with a frequency that suggests clear biological causes. Additionally, it also occurs in
people who have no family history of depression.
So, while there may be some biological factors that contribute to depression, the indicators are that it
is primarily a psychological reaction/disorder.
A variety of psychological factors appear to play a role in vulnerability to these severe forms of
- Most likely, psychological factors are completely responsible for other forms of mild and
moderate depression, especially reactive depression.
- During treatment, Reactive depression is usually diagnosed as an adjustment disorder.
- People who have low self-esteem, who consistently view themselves and the world with
pessimism, or who are readily overwhelmed by stress are more prone to depression.
SOCIAL ENVIRONMENT (Learned Behaviour)
Psychologists often describe social learning factors as being significant in the development of
depression, as well as other psychological problems.
- People learn both adaptive and maladaptive ways of managing stress and responding to life
problems within their family, educational, social and work environments.
- These environmental factors influence psychological development, and the way people try to
resolve problems when they occur.
- Social learning factors also explain why psychological problems appear to occur more often in
family members, from generation to generation.
- If a child grows up in a pessimistic environment, in which discouragement is common and
encouragement is rare, that child will develop a vulnerability to depression as well.
- A serious loss, chronic illness, relationship problems, work stress, family crisis, financial setback,
or any unwelcome life change can trigger a depressive episode.
- But. . . . the immediate social and intimate environments can also be the cause of the reaction.
- Hopelessness (having given up, or lost, hope.
- Also, certain events & holidays, such as Christmas can bring on a temporary depression. So will
bereavement and loss.
It is widely recognized that some forms of depression are actually anger that is "masked" or
Very often, a combination of biological, psychological, and environmental factors are involved in the
development of depressive disorders, as well as other psychological problems.
|If you feel you are suffering from Depression - or Anxiety - contact
your healthcare provider, please.
Depression - Major Depressive "Disorder": Uni-Polar Causes & Treatment
A Short Summary:
It's not known exactly what causes depression. As with many mental/emotional reactions, a variety of
factors may be involved, such as:
- Biological differences. People with depression appear to have physical changes in their brains: the
significance of these changes is still uncertain. But eventually, we may discover the cause they point
- Brain chemistry. Neurotransmitters are naturally occurring brain chemicals that may well play a role
in depression. Recent research indicates that changes in the function and effect of these
neurotransmitters and how they interact with neurocircuits involved in maintaining mood stability,
may play a significant role in depression and its treatment.
- Hormones. Changes in the body's balance of hormones may be involved in causing or triggering
depression. Hormone changes can result with pregnancy and during the weeks or months after
delivery (postpartum) and from thyroid problems, menopause or a number of other conditions.
- Inherited traits. Depression is more common in people whose blood relatives also have this
condition. The search is on to find genes that may be involved in causing depression.
Similar to the manifestations on the Anxiety spectrum, Depression is a Reaction, called a mood "disorder"
/reaction to life circumstances - see below. One that is characterized by a persistent feeling of sadness,
and loss of interest (in almost everything). It is also known as "major depressive disorder" or "clinical
It permeates and affects virtually everything in life: how you feel, think and behave, and generally leads
to a variety of emotional and physical problems. You may have trouble doing normal day-to-day activities,
and sometimes you may feel as if life isn't worth living.
It is more than just a bout of the blues: depression isn't a weakness, and you can't simply "snap out" of it.
Depression may require long-term treatment.
But don't get discouraged.
Most people with depression feel better with medication, psychotherapy or both.
CAUSES - Continued
1. It can be a result of a neuro-chemical problem, as a result of an illness, or some other rogue
(unknown) biological imbalance, which has negatively affected the body's chemistry.
- And if that's the case, there are medications that can help; as can taking a Vitamin D3 supplement,
Omega-6 supplement, and getting out in the sunshine, or using a special lamp that simulates the
2. But at other times, which are more common (and likely):
- it can also be a reaction to something, things like: stress, certain events (such as the death of a
loved one, or a pet), and certain upsetting or painful circumstances.
- It can also be due to social (and more intimate) environments in people's lives (see "Environment"
3. Indecision: the "hidden"one. This is one that is often overlooked -or not mentioned- because it isn't
generally considered by many health-care providers. That "hidden" cause is, indecision.
- Indecision resulting from being faced with actually knowing what you are reacting to, and
knowing what you can do about it, BUT, there are two options you need to choose between, and
you don't like either one. And consequently you hover between them, without making a decision
- It could be that they contradict your values, morals, ethics, etc., or because of more mundane, but
important reasons, you are unable to do so, perhaps for financial reasons, or whatever (which
would result in feeling trapped). It is when they avoid the choice or defer it, that the problem arises
- for some reason, human emotional-mental functions do not handle indecision well - especially if
on a prolonged basis - and the condition we know as depression often results. That inability to
choose, whilst knowing what the right choice to make is, creates an inner dis-balance, and our
minds do not handle that well; it creates what is called cognitive dissonance. See below.
- Two other sources often involved as root causes for depression are; suppressed Guilt, and Fear.
4. Cognitive dissonance is the mental discomfort (psychological stress) experienced by a person who
simultaneously faced with having to hold two or more contradictory beliefs, ideas, or values. Cognitive
dissonance is the resulting consequence of having to chose between performing two actions that
contradict personal beliefs, ideals, and values; it also occurs when confronted with new information that
contradicts those beliefs, ideals, and values. It is also known as being in a Double Bind situation: where a
person is confronted with two irreconcilable demands, or a choice between two undesirable courses of
In case you do not have time to follow the link, here's a brief outline of the Double Bind:
- Originally, the double bind referred to a no-win kind of communication that Gregory Bateson and
his colleagues believed was a contributing factor in schizophrenia. One example of double bind
communication is a mother giving her child the message: "Be spontaneous." If the child acts
spontaneously, he is not acting spontaneously because he is following his mother's direction.
- It's a no-win situation for the child. If a child is subjected to this kind of communication over a long
period of time, it's easy to see how he could become confused.
A Zen story is a good illustration of the double bind and also of a unique solution. A Zen master says to
his pupils: "If you say this stick is real, I will beat you. If you say this stick is not real, I will beat you. If
you say nothing, I will beat you."
There seems to be no way out.
One pupil, however, found a solution by changing the level of communication. He walked up to the
teacher, grabbed the stick, and broke it.
The double bind is applicable to many of our situations -and in instances of mental/emotional dis-ease,
not only Zen teachings.
Dawn Cove Abbey
Roadside assistance For Your Journey Through Life
- Dedicated to helping people return (and maintain) sanity and decency to life -
From the eBook: "One! The Journey hOMe", by Klaas Tuinman MA, © 2007-2017
Questions and comments welcomed.
To return to the Introduction to Depression,
click/tap the icon at the right
Generally, the suggestion is
that depression is a medical
illness - some
without psychological causes
(psychological, as in internal
responses to external events
Overcoming Depression - continued
That's the dilemma and enigma of Depression: the things that help the most being the things that are the
hardest to do. But remember, there's a huge difference between difficult and impossible.
It takes will-power, and a strong desire to heal, and while you may not have much energy, you can draw on
all your reserves: enough to take a walk around the block, or pick up the phone to call a loved one.
Taking the first step is always the hardest. But going for a walk or getting up and dancing to your favorite
music, for example, is something you can do right now. It can substantially boost your mood and energy
for several hours. That's long enough to put recovery step two into action; something like preparing a
mood-boosting meal, or arranging to meet an old friend.
There’s a reason that most therapists suggest taking it slow when trying to treat depression. If you feel
good one day, and decide to try and start a new venture, or make a new friend, and you don't succeed, it
could be a powerful setback in overcoming depression.
Instead, try things out slowly, and experiment with change one step at a time (save the leaps for when you’
re feeling fully recovered!).
When you do take steps into your renewed future, trying out new behavior strategies or relationship skills,
reward yourself for your successes. We're all quick to compliment others for doing something nice, but not
ourselves. Give yourself a compliment and a reward for accomplishing some goal you’ve set for yourself in
your depression recovery.
- Talk to one person about your feelings
- Help someone else by volunteering
- Have lunch or coffee with a friend
- Ask a loved one to check in with you regularly
- Accompany someone to the movies, a concert, or a small get-together
- Call or email an old friend
- Go for a walk with a workout buddy
- Schedule a weekly dinner date
- Confide in a clergy member, teacher, or sports coach
- Make face-time a priority. Phone calls, social media, and texting are great ways to stay in touch,
but they don’t replace good old-fashioned in-person quality time. The simple act of talking to
someone face to face about how you feel can play a big role in relieving depression and keeping it
- Try to keep up with social activities even if you don’t feel like it. Often when you’re depressed, it
feels more comfortable to retreat into your shell, but being around other people will make you feel
less depressed. Meet new people by taking a class or joining a club
- Find ways to support others. It’s nice to receive support, but research shows you get an even
bigger mood boost from providing support yourself. So find ways—both big and small—to help
others: volunteer, be a listening ear for a friend, do something nice for somebody.
- Care for a pet. While nothing can replace the human connection, pets can bring joy and
companionship into your life and help you feel less isolated. Caring for a pet can also get you outside
of yourself and give you a sense of being needed—both powerful antidotes to depression. Take a dog
for a walk. If don’t own a dog, you can volunteer to walk homeless dogs for an animal shelter or
rescue group. You’ll not only be helping yourself but also be helping to socialize and exercise the
dogs, making them more adoptable
- Join a support group for depression. Being with others dealing with depression can go a long way
in reducing your sense of isolation. You can also encourage each other, give and receive advice on
how to cope, and share your experiences.
- Exercise is something you can do right now to boost your mood. Start Exercising and Stick to It:
Creating an Enjoyable Exercise Routine. Pair up with an exercise partner. Not only does working out
with others enable you to spend time socializing, it can also help to keep you motivated. Try joining a
running club, taking a water aerobics or dance class, seeking out tennis partners, or enrolling in a
soccer or volleyball league.
- Eat a healthy, depression-fighting diet. Minimize sugar and refined carbs.
- Get a daily dose of sunlight. Sunlight can help boost serotonin levels and improve your mood.
Whenever possible, get outside during daylight hours and expose yourself to the sun for at least 15
minutes a day. Remove sunglasses (but never stare directly at the sun) and use sunscreen as needed.
- Challenge negative thinking. Do you feel like you’re powerless or weak? That bad things happen and
there’s not much you can do about it? That your situation is hopeless? Depression puts a negative spin
on everything, including the way you see yourself and your expectations for the future.
- When these types of thoughts overwhelm you, it’s important to remember that this is a symptom of
your depression and these irrational, pessimistic attitudes—known as cognitive distortions—aren’t
realistic. When you really examine them they don’t hold up. But even so, they can be tough to give up.
You can’t break out of this pessimistic mind frame by telling yourself to “just think positive.” Often, it’s
part of a lifelong pattern of thinking that’s become so automatic you’re not even completely aware of
it. Rather, the trick is to identify the type of negative thoughts that are fueling your depression, and
replace them with a more balanced way of thinking.
Let go of Negative, unrealistic ways of thinking that fuel depression. All-or-nothing thinking – Looking at
things in black-or-white categories, with no middle ground (“If I fall short of perfection, I’m a total failure.”)
- Overgeneralization – Generalizing from a single negative experience, expecting it to hold true forever
(“I can’t do anything right.”)
- The mental filter – Ignoring positive events and focusing on the negative. Noticing the one thing that
went wrong, rather than all the things that went right.
- Diminishing the positive – Coming up with reasons why positive events don’t count (“She said she had
a good time on our date, but I think she was just being nice.”)
- Jumping to conclusions – Making negative interpretations without actual evidence. You act like a mind
reader (“He must think I’m pathetic”) or a fortune teller (“I’ll be stuck in this dead-end job forever.”)
- Emotional reasoning – Believing that the way you feel reflects reality (“I feel like such a loser. I really
am no good!”)
- ‘Shoulds’ and ‘should-nots’ – Holding yourself to a strict list of what you should and shouldn’t do, and
beating yourself up if you don’t live up to your rules.
Other Depression Treatment:
If you’ve taken self-help steps and made positive lifestyle changes and still find your depression getting
- Lifestyle Changes
worse, seek professional help.
Needing additional help doesn’t mean you’re weak.
Sometimes the negative thinking in depression can make you feel like you’re a lost cause, but depression
can be treated and you can feel better!
When you feel "depressed", and don't know where to turn, talk to someone who can help - see your doctor -
and get a referral to a psychologist or coach/counsellor.
Klaas Tuinman MA
Dawn Cove Abbey
Deerfield, (Yarmouth County) Nova Scotia, Canada - 2008 rev:2018
Dealing with depression requires
action: your participation. Yet,
taking action when you’re
depressed is hard.
Sometimes, just thinking about
the things you should, or could,
do to feel better, like exercising or
spending time with friends, can
seem, and feel, exhausting or
impossible to actually get in gear.