25 Common Causes of Depression and How to Treat Them
Common Health Issues

25 Common Causes of Depression and How to Treat Them

Feeling low and depressed at times is a normal human emotional state – as normal as is a feeling of happiness and excitement. But, feeling low and depressed for a long time can be a sign of some psychological ill-being. Human mood changes are complex. A particular event that is making someone happy can make others depressed and sad. Similarly, an event of excitement for one person can be a completely usual occasion for another person. All this is because of different surroundings, dissimilar perception and, most importantly, the varying levels of neurotransmitters in brains of different individuals. 

Neurotransmitters are chemical messengers of the brain. The brain sends either excitatory or inhibitory signals to all the regions of the body via neurotransmitters. Simply put, when these chemicals are released at nerve endings of an organ, they either switch it on or shut down its functions. The emotions of a person are also modulated by the presence or absence of particular neurotransmitters.  Depression is also a result of a chemical imbalance in the brain. 1

What are the symptoms of depression?

The depression symptoms can vary in different individuals. Some people may feel low and exhausted for many days without any obvious reason, while, others may show different signs. Usually, the depression symptoms last for more than two weeks. The symptoms of depression are: 2

  • Low mood or irritability, aggression
  • Hopelessness
  • Feeling of guilt
  • Fatigue
  • Loss of interest in activities those was previously joyful
  • Concentration issues
  • Insomnia
  • Loss of appetite
  • Weight changes
  • Feeling suicidal or ideation of self-harm

Common causes of depression 

What causes depression is a common concern of every individual. The important thing to note here is depression can arise either by a single factor or by the combination of multiple reasons. Here are 25 common causes of depression and some tips for managing them.

1.COVID-19 Pandemic

In the current circumstances, COVID-19 pandemic is one of the most important causes of depression, globally. The uncertainty, despair and hopelessness have increased after the second wave. This can directly increase the depression and may even worsen the symptoms in depression patients.  



2. Teenage

The age of an individual is related to depression. The teens are particularly vulnerable to depression because of multiple reasons. 4 The frontal lobe, responsible for personality, develops rapidly in teenage. The child becomes aggressive, irritable and often exhausting.  


3. Gender

Depression can affect any individual regardless of gender but the risk is relatively higher in females. 5 The mechanism behind this is unknown. A possibility is the cyclical hormonal changes may alter the brain chemistry and produce depression.


4. Presence of comorbid

The presence of chronic ailment like diabetes, cancer, asthma, arthritis, etc. affects the quality of life of an individual. The affected person usually develops the feeling of hopelessness and may become socially isolated. Sometimes the disease requires the person to stop the activities of his/ her interest.  All of these can lead to depression. 6


5. Premenstrual syndrome

It is a psychological disorder that occurs after the ovulation and ends with the onset of periods. The syndrome is characterized by emotional, physical and psychological issues. The woman may feel irritable, depressed and become oversensitive for no reason. There is a strong association of pre-menstrual syndrome with depression. 7



Polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) is a common condition affecting women of reproductive age. It can present variably in different females. Symptoms can be menstrual irregularities, acne problem, weight issues, hirsutism (presence of facial hair) and fertility problems. The symptoms of PCOS may produce depression in women. 8


7. Ageing

Ageing is the process that produces significant changes in the body, including memory loss, cognitive impairment, generalized weakness and some age-related disorders.  These can restrict the person's normal active daily life activities and may isolate him/her. Not being able to cope with the ageing changes may lead to depression. 9



8. Family history

People who have a family history of depression are at high risk to develop it. 10


9. Brain structure

Sometimes any abnormality of the frontal lobe produces depression. The mechanism behind this is unclear.


10. Alcohol abuse

Excessive alcohol intake for a long time increases the risk of depression. 11


11. Drug abuse

Prolong use of recreational drugs develops many psychiatric disorders including depression. 11


12. Certain medication

Some therapeutic drugs can affect brain chemistry and lead to depression.


13. Presence of other mental illness

People who have any mental illness are more likely to get depression. 12


14. Socioeconomic problems

The financial issue and related problems can trigger depression in the individual.


15. Loss of job

Sudden loss of a job is related to financial problems. The person may become severely anxious and depression may develop. 10


16. Retirement

In some individuals, retirement may lead to depression. It may be because the person has to leave the previous working lifestyle and now adapts to the new one. The problem is not being able to utilize the free time, which can lead to depression.


17. Prolong work stress

Working in a stressful environment for long can cause depression. 10



18. Separation/Divorce/ Recent break up

Separation from the partner is an important cause of depression. 10



19. Death or loss of a loved one

The recent death of a loved one may affect individual badly and lead to depression. 10


20. Early childhood trauma

In some people, early childhood traumatic memories lead to the development of psychiatric disorders. 10

Other common causes of depression are:

21. Recent trauma

22. Continuous stressful events

23. Low self-esteem

24. Living in an abusive relationship

25. Long-term isolation

How to manage depression?

Depression is a worrisome condition as it may lead to the death of an individual by suicide, if left untreated. The management of depression does not necessarily depend on anti-depressive medication. Here are some tips that may help to manage depression:

  • Take a break from the usual routine. Give yourself some time. Try to indulge in activities that make you happy and peaceful.
  • Try to socialize. Connect with your buddies. Avoid isolating yourself.
  • Make a healthy routine and remain stuck to it. Try to utilize your free time in productive activities.
  • Identify the trigger and try to avoid it.
  • Show kindness to yourself and others. Learn the attitude of gratitude.
  • Seek help. Talk to your friends, family or any person you trust about your condition. Go to a doctor to take professional advice.



  1. Nutt D. J. (2008). Relationship of neurotransmitters to the symptoms of major depressive disorder. The Journal of clinical psychiatry69 Suppl E1, 4–7.
  2. Kanter, J. W., Busch, A. M., Weeks, C. E., & Landes, S. J. (2008). The nature of clinical depression: symptoms, syndromes, and behaviour analysis. The Behavior Analyst31(1), 1–21.
  3. Bueno-Notivol, J., Gracia-García, P., Olaya, B., Lasheras, I., López-Antón, R., & Santabárbara, J. (2021). Prevalence of depression during the COVID-19 outbreak: A meta-analysis of community-based studies. International journal of clinical and health psychology: IJCHP21(1), 100196.
  4. Thapar, A., Collishaw, S., Pine, D. S., & Thapar, A. K. (2012). Depression in adolescence. Lancet (London, England)379(9820), 1056–1067.
  5. Salk, R. H., Hyde, J. S., & Abramson, L. Y. (2017). Gender differences in depression in representative national samples: Meta-analyses of diagnoses and symptoms. Psychological Bulletin143(8), 783–822.
  6. Yirmiya R. (2000). Depression in medical illness: the role of the immune system. The Western journal of medicine173(5), 333–336.
  7. Forrester-Knauss, C., Zemp Stutz, E., Weiss, C., & Tschudin, S. (2011). The interrelation between premenstrual syndrome and major depression: results from a population-based sample. BMC public health11, 795.
  8. Cooney, L. G., & Dokras, A. (2017). Depression and Anxiety in Polycystic Ovary Syndrome: Etiology and Treatment. Current psychiatry reports19(11), 83.
  9. Sözeri-Varma G. (2012). Depression in the elderly: clinical features and risk factors. Ageing and Disease3(6), 465–471.
  10. InformedHealth.org [Internet]. Cologne, Germany: Institute for Quality and Efficiency in Health Care (IQWiG); 2006-. Depression: Overview. [Updated 2020 Jun 18]. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK279285/
  11. Miller, N. S., Klamen, D., Hoffmann, N. G., & Flaherty, J. A. (1996). Prevalence of depression and alcohol and other drug dependence in addictions treatment populations. Journal of psychoactive drugs28(2), 111–124.
  12. Mirzaei, M., Yasini Ardekani, S. M., Mirzaei, M., & Dehghani, A. (2019). Prevalence of Depression, Anxiety and Stress among Adult Population: Results of Yazd Health Study. Iranian journal of psychiatry14(2), 137–146.


Rich Health Editorial Team

Health Research

Rich Health Editorial Team is made up of medical practitioners and experienced writers who provide information for dealing with health issues in a simple and easy-to-understand manner