I always thought my depression might be inherited because both my parents have experienced it. But we all shared the same house, town, financial situation, and social network when I was growing up, so I wondered if it was more a product of our environment than our genes. As it turns out, both are correct. Experts think depression is about 50 percent inherited and 50 percent other factors.
Causes of Depression
For depression sufferers, it can feel like our minds filter out positive emotions and turn our thoughts into a vortex of negativity. Seeing the pain and suffering caused by natural disasters often exacerbates depression.
Last year, I quit my soul-sucking corporate job to pursue my true passion: writing. It impacted my depression in unexpected ways; in fact, it made my depression worse.
When someone dies by suicide, condolences pour in both online and offline. People grieve the loss of the deceased individual via statements like, "If only they had reached out to me before taking this step, I would have helped them." Unfortunately, this is untrue. It is trendy to pay lip service to mental health (or the lack thereof). Whether it's organizations or individuals, #MentalHealthMatters as long as it doesn't inconvenience anyone. (Note: This post contains a trigger warning.)
"Ghosting" is the act of abruptly cutting off all contact with another person without warning, of disappearing from their life without explanation and without a trace. It has been characterized as a cruel and cowardly practice that has a devastating impact on the "ghostee," but I would counter that in some cases, ghosting is the only way to distance yourself from a toxic and unhealthy relationship and the only way to safeguard your mental health when no alternative presents itself.
The iceberg theory is a frequently cited model of behavior which states that a person's behavior can only be properly understood in the context of the factors that caused it. What a person does is "the tip of the iceberg"-- what we don't see are the emotional, social, cultural, and other factors that lie beneath the surface and cause that behavior.
Childhood bullying caused me to have a fairly miserable time at school. I was bookish, physically inept and socially awkward. Add to that the headgear and a built-up shoe, and you had a sight that would make any school bully drool.
Fact: depression is not always clinical. Sometimes, it occurs not due to changes in the brain but because of a difficult life situation. I know this because I have experienced both clinical depression and situational depression over the years. And although their causes are different, they have similar effects, effects that make life harder than usual.
Here's the thing: I had trauma or posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) long before the pandemic; it's one of the reasons my depression is chronic. In my opinion, the pandemic has led to PTSD even in people who haven't contracted COVID-19. I say this with confidence because it's the reason my PTSD has become more intense since last year, and as a member of mental health groups, I have seen people exhibiting PTSD symptoms. And yes, one of the symptoms of PTSD is depression.
If 2020 was a terrible year for you and it made your depression worse, please know that you are not alone. Even as a mental health blogger with nearly two decades of lived experience, the past year has been one of the roughest years of my life.