Depression causes

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Depression can occur in many different ways.

It can develop suddenly without warning

It can sneak up on you

It can be triggered by psychological trauma, stress and problems

It can develop by itself without any particular strains

And it can develop in several other ways...

But exactly what the cause is for depression to occur in exactly that person at that time can be very difficult to say. For depression is caused by many different factors.

In this section you can read more about what it is that comes into play as an contributory cause of depression.

There is no simple answer to the reason why you get hit by depression. We know what causes influenza. We can identify the virus. But we don't know exactly what causes depression. However, we do know that depression occurs as an interaction between a hereditary vulnerability, which is congenital, and influences during adolescence.

Genetic disposition

In some families many family members develop depression. If your parent, child or siblings have had several depressions, there is unfortunately a 20% risk of you yourself developing one or more depressions.


It is a traditional view that twice as many women develop depression as men. But in recent years, ideas have emerged which suggest that in fact as many men suffer from depression as women. Depressions just show up differently in men. Perhaps many men therefore don't discover that they are suffering from depression and hence don't go to see their doctor. Similarly a doctor can also more easily overlook depressions in men. This produces low percentages in the surveys.


You can develop depression at any age but the risk increases slightly for women between the ages of 40 and 50. Furthermore, the risk of developing more than one depression increases with age. Read more about depression in the elderly.

Social status

The connection between social status and depression is not completely clear. But there seems to be an increased risk of people with a low social status developing depression.


People with depression are unemployed more frequently than others. But we don't know whether this is caused by the fact that you become depressed because you are unemployed or whether you become unemployed because you are depressed.

Psychological trauma

Some people who have experienced psychological strains or trauma react by developing depression. Others develop anxiety or alcohol abuse. But some people are lucky enough to manage without any psychological after-effects. Your reaction to a psychological trauma will depend to a large degree on your genetic disposition and your personality. But there are actually surprisingly few events which we can link to the development of depression. However, it does appear that people who have been sexually abused in their childhood have an increased risk of developing depression. Furthermore, if you develop a depression after severe psychological strain, you are at risk of lesser psychological strain triggering depressions later on.


We don't know whether divorce directly increases the risk of developing depression. It is a fact that people with depression are more frequently divorced than others but we don't know whether people become depressed because of the divorce or whether they become divorced because of the depression.


The death of people close to you seems to increase the risk of developing depression.


A physical disease increases the risk of developing depression. Nearly all kinds of diseases can lead to depression. This applies both to less serious diseases like influenza or more serious diseases like cerebral thrombosis or cancer. Read more about depression in connection with a physical disease.

Pregnancy and child birth

During pregnancy and the weeks and months before the birth, the risk of developing depression is increased. When you have just given birth, both your body and psyche need to get used to a completely new situation. Your hormones need to readjust, and you need to look after your newborn child. This is a period of many changing feelings, and approximately one in ten women develops depression after the birth. But with support from those closest to you and from professionals together in some cases with medicine, you can usually avoid developing a deep postnatal depression. Read more about postnatal depression.

Stress and depression

Prolonged stress increases the risk of developing depression. Stress is often triggered by situations, where more is demanded of you than you feel you can live up to. Many unfinished or insurmountable tasks can often trigger stress. Stress is a condition where you feel irritable, tired, in low spirits, insecure and possibly have difficulty sleeping and often have a series of physical symptoms as well such as stomach problems, headache or muscular tension. If this stress condition continues over a lengthy period, it increases the risk of developing depression.

There are psychological circumstances which can make you vulnerable to depression. These can either be external or internal circumstances.

The external circumstances can be from the past or the present but are often about psychological influences from your childhood. The internal circumstances stem from your psyche, your personality and thought pattern.

Both in relation to the external and internal circumstances, psychotherapy can often help if you have either been hit by depression or if you want to do something about the circumstances, in order to reduce the risk of developing depression (and perhaps generally improve your health). The most effective psychological treatment method in severe depressions is Cognitive therapy , which is about analyzing and changing inappropriate thoughts and behaviour.