cause depression

The Physical Causes of Depression

Depression is no carnival. However, it may take a parade to understand the physical causes of depression.

Depression is a serious health condition. The physical causes of depression are characterized by a neurochemical or hormonal imbalance. Genes, hormones, illnesses, disabilities, medication, and diets cause these imbalances.


We have chemicals in our brains that affect our moods and emotions. Some of these chemicals are norepinephrine, serotonin, and dopamine. A chemical imbalance will result if there is not enough, too much, or inconsistent usage of those chemicals. If the chemicals in our brains are off balance, or halts producing, this will affect our mood. It is just like performing in a parade. If one person stops marching, it could affect the rest of the parade.


Depression is hereditary. If one parent has depression, the child has a 27% chance of inheriting depression, and that percentage doubles if both parents have it.


Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS), Post Partum, and Menopause can cause depressed mood, mood swings, irritability, and tension or anxiety. About a week before a woman’s menustration, she may experience these symptoms. Some women develop Post Pardum after childbirth, which is characterized by depression or a deep sense of loss. Two of the female hormones, estrogen and testosterone, drop significantly 24 hours after childbirth. This rapid change can cause depression, just as the small change in hormones through menstruation.


Medical illnesses often cause depression. Some examples are Hypothyroidism (underactive thyroid gland), Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS), Parkinson’s Disease (PD), and Multiple Sclerosis (MS).

CFS patients feel as if they have a long lasting flu. Some symptoms like a sore throat, swollen glands, muscle pain, and severe prolonged fatigue cause depression.

The thyroid regulates hormones. An underactive thyroid gland will affect the hormones and chemicals responsible for mood and emotions.

In PD, the amount of dopamine, one of the “feel good” neurotransmitters responsible for mood, is critically low. This also affects the worsening of physical movement, which in effect, can cause the depression to worsen.

With MS, the condition destroys the nerves that transport signals for mood neurotransmitters. Without the nerves to carry the needed chemicals, this will result in depressed symptoms.


This is similar to CFS, but CFS is long-term and burnout is usually short-term. This is characterized by a depletion of mental and physical energy. This is from a prolonged overwork and/or an overload of demands and obligations placed upon an individual. Aching joints, extreme fatigue, or a decrease in bone density and muscle mass are other physical causes of depression.


Approximately 20% – 30% of people with long-term disabilities have a depressive condition. Those with a loss of limbs, senses, or other abilities can suffer from low self-esteem or physical and emotional pain. Emotional pain can cause physical symptoms of depression. These symptoms may include muscle soreness, disturbed sleep, change in appetite, and lack of energy.


Most antidepressant medications come with a warning now, stating that it is possible the medication can make the depression worse than it was. This sounds counteractive; however most medications for depression are helpful and efficient. The use of certain medications, such as steroids and some blood pressure medications can cause physical symptoms of depression.


A blunt force to the head can cause brain damage. This can alter many other functions occurring in the brain as well. An injury at work, school, sports, or other physical trauma can offset the brain and body’s natural rhythms.

A full medical and psychological evaluation will confirm the cause of depression. This will rule out other causes or underlining conditions. Treatments for physical causes of depression may include medication, electroconvulsive treatments (ECT), psychotherapy, art and dance therapy, physical therapy, or other recommended treatments.

Once we treat the physical causes of depression, we can march, without a halt, in that parade once again.

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