Establishing the causes

No one really knows what causes low mood and depression.

Like symptoms, the reasons vary from person to person and a combination of factors is thought to be involved. Stressful situations such as job loss, losing someone close, or a difficult relationship or childhood are common triggers. There is also evidence that suggests women are more prone to depression than men and that it can run in families. According to the Royal College of Psychiatrists if you have one parent who has become severely depressed you are eight times more likely to become depressed yourself.

Chronic physical illness is another risk factor. Having had a depressive episode before also predisposes you to experiencing it again although is it worth noting that being predisposed to depression does not necessarily mean you will get it.

Recently scientists have also discovered changes in the brains of people who are depressed. Three important neurotransmitters (chemicals that carry messages between brain cells) dopamine, serotonin and noradrenalin may not be functioning as they should. This in turn leads to faulty communication between brain cells. “But whether brain chemicals cause depression or are affected by it is still under debate,” explains Amelia.

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