Causes and Effects of Depression

What Causes Depression?

The origins of depression are complex and vary from person to person. Life events, coping strategies, genetic factors and personality styles all have bearing on whether an individual experiences depression. Current research suggests that changes in neurotransmitters, the chemicals brain cells use to communicate, create the underlying pathway that gives rise to depressive symptoms. A family history of depression, overuse of alcohol or other substances as a way of coping, or challenging situations such as marital stress or loss of a loved one can all contribute to depression. Certain thought patterns and coping styles can also influence the onset or persistence of depression. Increasingly, it is recognized that an accumulation of many smaller problems can often lead to significant depression.

By empowering individuals to take action steps and make lasting life changes, the PEARLS Program is designed to prevent the negative long-term health outcomes associated with depression and improve overall quality of life.

Moreover, the stress of managing a chronic illness such as epilepsy, diabetes or heart disease can impact an individual’s experience of depressive symptoms. Chronic illnesses often lead to a decreasing ability to function at the same level as usual, feeling overwhelmed with life’s problems, or losing social support systems or resources – all of which contribute to depression. The PEARLS Program is designed to target and reduce the depressive symptoms associated with these problems, and two randomized controlled trials have shown that it does so effectively.

What Are the Effects of Depression?

Two Men FishingThe consequences of depression are as equally complex and varied as are its origins. Untreated depression often leads to decreased productivity, both at work and with everyday tasks, missed workdays, physical and emotional disability, and more frequent use of healthcare. In individuals with chronic illness, untreated depression may impair adherence to treatment and self-care regimens -- both crucial aspects of chronic illness management -- because of fatigue, loss of concentration, lack of motivation and hopelessness. This can have a major impact on long-term health outcomes. By the same token, individuals with depression may feel that their health is worsening when previously tolerable medical symptoms, such as fatigue, become overwhelming and all-encompassing; this is referred to as the amplification of physical symptoms.

By empowering individuals to take action steps and make lasting life changes, the PEARLS Program is designed to prevent the negative long-term health outcomes associated with depression and improve overall quality of life.