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What Are the Causes of Depression & Anxiety?

by Marisa Serafini
  • Overview

    Depression and anxiety can be caused by any number of factors. Symptoms of depression include feeling sad or hopeless, loss of interest, social withdrawal, insomnia, irritability and changes in appetite. Anxiety symptoms include restlessness, fatigue, difficulty concentrating, sleep problems, headache and shortness of breath. Some factors that have been linked with the development of anxiety and depression are imbalanced brain chemistry, genetics, grieving for a loved one, giving birth and high levels of stress.
  • Brain Chemistry

    Scientists have found some evidence of differences in brain chemistry or structure in people with anxiety and depression. They speculate that levels of the neurotransmitters norepinephrine and serotonin in the brain link to mood as well as hormone levels in the body.
  • Genetics

    Depression and anxiety can also be caused by genetic factors. These disorders are more common in people who have a first-degree relative with major depressive disorder or an anxiety disorder.
  • Loss of a Loved One

    The death of a close friend or relative can be devastating, and it is not uncommon for people to experience acute anxiety or depression following a loss. Most people who are grieving do not, in general, develop an anxiety or depression disorder, but it is a possibility. If the grieving process seems to last for an extremely long time or if the person becomes worse over time, it may be a good idea to seek help.
  • Postpartum Depression

    Some women may experience mood swings or feelings of depression or anxiety for up to several months after giving birth. This can occur after the birth of any child, not just the first, and can occur for a number of reasons. Some risk factors for developing postpartum depression are young age of mother, prior substance abuse and marital or relationship problems.
  • High Level of Stress

    High levels of stress are one of the main causes of depression and anxiety. Financial problems, relationship problems, chronic illness or any other major change in life circumstances can all be extremely stressful and could trigger depression or anxiety symptoms.

    References & Resources