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what causes depression

Most people assume that depression is caused simply by recent personal difficulties or a chemical imbalance in the brain. Depression however, is often caused by the mix of recent events and other longer-term or personal risk factors.

Research indicates that ongoing difficulties, such as long-term unemployment or living in an abusive or uncaring relationship, are more likely to cause depression than recent life stressors. Depression can also run in families and some people will be at increased genetic risk. However, this doesn’t mean that you will automatically become depressed if a parent or close relative has had the illness. Life circumstances are still likely to have an important influence on your chances of becoming ill. It’s also common for people to experience depression and anxiety at the same time.

Common medical causes of depression include:

  • Low thyroid function
  • Brain injuries and diseases (e.g. stroke, heart disease, head injury, epilepsy, Parkinson’s Disease)
  • Some forms of cancer
  • Infectious diseases
  • Blood vessel disease in the brain due to diabetes and/or hypertension
  • Some steroid and hormonal treatments
  • Anaemia
  • Chronic pain
  • Quitting smoking.

High-risk personality being:

  • A lifelong worrier
  • A perfectionist
  • Sensitive to personal criticism
  • Unassertive
  • Self-critical and negative
  • Shy, socially anxious and having low self-esteem.

Common tests done by a doctor include:

  • Full blood count and biochemistry
  • Thyroid function tests
  • Urine test for sugar and protein
  • Occasionally, a brain scan.

It’s important to note that you can’t always identify the cause of depression nor change troubling circumstances. The most important thing is to recognise the depression and to seek help. Remember, the sooner you get treatment, the greater the chance of a faster recovery.

Reproduced from the beyondblue fact sheet 3 – What causes depression? – download it here.

To find out more about the signs and symptoms of depression and anxiety, available treatments and where to get help contact beyondblue: the national depression and anxiety initiative by visiting the website – www.beyondblue.org.au – or phoning the beyondblue information line 1300 22 46 36 (local call cost from a landline).

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Born in Sydney in 1975, Angus grew up in the northern suburbs of Sydney and later in the Western Suburbs of Sydney. Over the years he has been a check out operator, charity collection agent for the Muscualr Dystrophy Association, Apple Repair Technician and is a former Director and all rounder type computer and network technician of Little Computer People. He is married to Michelle, who he met on-line back in the good old days of the internet when it was considered a big no-no to have physically met someone you chat to on-line for fear of harm. He has lived in Melbourne for two years, then moved back to Sydney for eleven years, but is once again back in Melbourne. It is nicer than Sydney for artistic purposes and coolness factor. As of now he lives in Pascoe Vale, fixes computers and networks, takes photos of all sorts of things as a hobby and builds lego to help deal with his depression. Capril means even more to him now.

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