What can cause depression?

We may all feel sad or in a down mood at some time in our life, but when you have depression, these feelings last for a long time and can be quite intense. If you are experiencing symptoms of depression, you may be wondering why it is happening. So what can cause depression?


What can cause depression?

There usually isn’t one single event that can cause depression, but a combination of several factors, some of which are listed below.



Some people are at an increased risk of developing depression if there is a history of it in their family. But you should note, if there is a family history of depression it does not mean you will automatically develop depression.



Some personality types can be more susceptible to developing depression. People who are self-critical, have low self-esteem, overly anxious and worried, negative, or are perfectionists may be more vulnerable. Just because you have one of these personality types, it doesn’t mean you will develop depression.


Life events

Receiving bad news, losing a job, relationship problems, being in financial difficulty, loneliness, or a death in the family can lead to depression. Life events are unlikely to cause depression on their own, other factors need to be present.



People who have a chronic or long-term illness and are struggling to cope may develop depression.


Alcohol and drug use

Drug and alcohol abuse can lead to and worsen depression.


Brain chemistry

Researchers are looking into what exactly happens in the brain to cause depression. One observation is that the neurotransmitters (chemicals that carry signals from one part of the brain to the next) don’t function normally.


How can I get help for depression?

Different types of depression will have different treatment options. Treatment can include medication, cognitive behavioural therapy, psychotherapy, counselling, mindfulness meditation, and self-help (e.g. nutrition, exercise, avoiding drugs and alcohol etc.). As a first step, you should visit your GP who can give you an assessment and recommend next steps. A counselling service like SuicideLine Victoria (1300 651 251) may also be able to help. If it is an emergency, dial 000.