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Archive for the ‘Depression’ Category

What Causes Depression?

Posted on Tuesday, September 30th, 2014 by Sanctuary staff

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Depression Part 1: What Causes Depression?

By: Aileen Tedrow

I decided to study depression more in-depth for a season and am excited to share my findings with you. In preparing to write about depression, I realize the term holds a vast meaning for many people, whether one has suffered from it, witnessed loved ones struggling, or simply been an outside observer. This can lead to confusion and questions about what depression is. This month we will set an initial foundation for the causes of depression. I have often heard depression referred to as the “common cold” of mental health. While I agree that depression is prevalent in our society, the causes and treatment are more intricate than the common cold and one cannot simply “tough it out.” There is not always a quickly identifiable cause of depression, but if we begin to explore potential causes we can clear up some of the confusion. It is my hope that awareness will also give us more compassion for ourselves and others that are struggling. When examining the cause of depression rather than thinking of it in a linear fashion, such as A+B=C, think of it like a spider web with many intersecting parts that may or may not have a clear starting point, but are worth being traced. Within this web it’s common to find a myriad of causes and effects. There are six common “cause” categories that can be looked at: physical, emotional, spiritual, traumas/abuse, outside factors, and grief. Within each category is a list of causes that can affect a person’s well-being. For example, a person might carry around unresolved anger for years (emotional), which in turn leads to feelings of disconnect from God (spiritual). This is related in part to abuse from childhood (trauma) and the depression is set off by being laid off from work (outside factor). Additionally, a person could have a starting physical cause such as a dip in serotonin (a naturally made chemical found in our body that contributes to our sense of well-being), but the fallout from being depressed could lead to disruptions in relationships, career, and personal identity; additional “micro-traumas” which compound upon the depression. While these examples don’t fit everyone’s experience, I hope it serves as an illustration to the web depression can cause. I would like to note there that are various degrees of depression that people experience for either long or short periods of time. I will be writing more about that next month. I know that thinking about the numerous causes that can be linked to depression itself can be disheartening, but we do not need to lose hope! There are many medical and therapeutic advancements being made in the fight against depression. The complexity we see within people may contribute to our various causes of depression, but that complexity can also be one of our greatest strengths. When examining mental health, I am often reminded of Psalm 139:14 “I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made,” and I am struck by the realization that we are touched by brokenness. However, it is because of that depth of God’s design of humanity that we are able to heal and walk with others out of brokenness down the healing path. Thankfully, we have a great, compassionate God who understands and cares about the trail we walk down and who walks with us. I give thanks knowing that when we are dealing with and talking about the brokenness in the world, we don’t have to go at it alone. I would like to recommend Dr. Richard Winter’s book When Life Goes Dark. This is a great read for anyone desiring to learn more about depression or take an in-depth look at the causes mentioned above.

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