Why do we get depressed?

Human-Behavior is not something you can just study out of a textbook and memorize facts about. Humans are all different; we act differently, think differently, talk differently, and react to situations differently.

It is what makes every single one of us unique. While we don’t know exactly what causes depression, a number of things are often linked to its development. Depression usually results from a combination of recent events and other longer-term or personal factors, rather than one immediate issue or event.

There are many different types of depression, but depression is generally the feelings of severe despondency and dejection. The most common form is Clinical depression, also known as a major depressive disorder. There are two main factors that contribute to depression: genetics and external factors, also known as your environment. If you were told that you have the “depression gene,” you might worry that you will become depressed.

However, having a genetic predisposition to a condition does not mean that you will get it. It simply means that you may be more susceptible to it than someone who doesn’t have the same genetic makeup.

As far as researchers know, it’s the interplay of genes and other factors such as environment and trauma that determines whether someone develops this condition. But genetics is not that simple. Heredity is a complex interplay of many factors, not just individual genes. When studying depression, researchers often look for changes in genes called variants. These changes are classified according to the effect (or lack of) they have on the gene. If a gene associated with a specific condition is altered, it may be more likely to contribute to the development of that condition.

A benign genetic variant is less likely to influence the condition than a pathogenic variant. Essentially, this means that having a genetic variant can make it more likely — but not definite— that you will develop the condition associated with that variant. People might be concerned about whether or not they could receive or pass on depression to their family.

While there could be a heritable component to depression, genetics is not the only determinant. A child who has a parent with depression may be genetically predisposed, but will not necessarily become depressed. Environmental factors or “triggers” are also involved.

On the other hand, a child who does not have any family member with depression, and isn’t genetically predisposed may become depressed if they are exposed to a triggering event such as experiencing trauma or severe stress. Overall, the causes of depression are confounding and are different for every person.

Having a genetic predisposition to depression can exacerbate these factors and may influence when someone becomes depressed as well as how long symptoms last; however, it is important to remember that depression can develop in anyone, even someone who isn’t genetically predisposed and doesn’t have obvious risk factors.


About the Author:

This article is written by Imaan Qureshi.