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Deciphering the Cause of My Depression

Today, I sit and wonder how it all got to be this way, how did I end up with this long-lasting battle with depression? Often, it does us little good to think too hard on the how and why, rather it serves us better to focus on “what do I do now?” It feels impossible not to ponder the rest of the story at times. It can creep into our lives or it can launch a sneak attack; no matter how it strikes it can be really confusing and difficult to determine the cause of depression.

Understanding My Depression Roots: Genetics and Depression

Trying to understand the root causes of depressionAt the beginning of my journey with depression and ever since, I have been repeatedly asked by doctors, therapists and clinicians, “Does depression or mental illness run in your family?” Now, as I learn more and more about mental health, I wonder how can it not run in a person’s family? If mental health issues affect 1 in 4 as research has shown, then we are all bound to have family members who have lived with, confronted or battled a mental health issue of some kind.

Admittedly, my family tree is pretty well covered with mental health maladies. The history goes back to a great great grandfather who I recall may have taken his own life and also to my maternal grandfather who did die by suicide when I was in college. I have aunts who have dealt with mental health issues, cousins and relatives of closer proximity as well. It’s apparent that it is real and quite possibly “in my blood”.

I suppose the genetic component helps me to release a good portion of the guilt that comes with living with depression. The feeling that can latch on, that I am somehow responsible for this, that if I only tried harder or worked harder at this or that I would be free from the depression and other related illnesses. Knowing that it truly could have a very large genetic component helps to know that some of this is out of my control.

The Role of Environment in My Depression

On the other hand, I have to look at the traumas and stresses that occurred in my childhood. My parents divorced when I was about 6 years old and from the age of 7 until the age of 14, my mom was married to a very abusive man. The domestic violence in our home that I was repeatedly exposed to left it’s impression on me. Later, in my teenage years, with poor coping skills in hand, I experienced additional trauma. It’s obvious that these environmental factors play a role in the causation of my personal battle with depression.

Depression’s Muddy Waters

This isn’t a new concept nor is this rocket science when discussing the role of environment and genetics in depression. Then again, maybe it is when I really start to try to filter out what the actual causes are of my mental health concerns. Perhaps it will always be muddy water. That’s where science has left it as of now, clear as mud. There is great evidence that the genetic factor in depression plays a big role. Studies confirm this and yet, there is no way to deny the impact of our environment.

I contemplate now if it makes a difference whether I know the etiology of my own personal dealings with depression or am I simply better off to accept it all and continue to move forward, regardless of the cause? How about you? Do you feel a strong urge to understand “why?” Or does it matter most to you how you go from here?

4 thoughts on “Deciphering the Cause of My Depression”

  1. i’m speaking as a counsellor, as someone dealing with mental health issues myself, as as someone who grew up with mental health issues in the family. personally, my interest in the “why” is more of an abstract one, the same way i’m often thinking i’d like to take a chemistry course because i missed that in high school. for my own mental health, it doesn’t make much of a difference the “how” is much more important than the “why” in that sense. however, i have had clients who feel very strongly that they need to understand the “why” better. there is no point in neglecting that need when they will just leave my office muttering “but i want to know WHY.” just talking about the different possibilities and pointing out some of the research helps. btw, dr gabor mate, in his fabulous book “in the realm of hungry ghosts” which is about addiction but in a way about mental illness in a very broad sense, shows how very difficult it is to separate genetic from environmental factors.

    1. Thank you so much for your response Isabella! And for the book recommendation. The genetic and environmental factors are very intricately intertwined, aren’t they?

  2. Depression as frequently and devastating mental disorder remain a undeciphering enigma, what it is belonging to the exact causes of this disease. Anyway, there are many argument that an interaction of genetic and environmental condition where a depressive person was growing up plays a determinant role on getting the depression. But, it is very important to know that depression is curable disease in over 90% of cases. Then again, this most common psychosomatic disorder is manifested in many clinical features that depend on its etio-pathogenetics circumstances, which ones are different to every depressive patient. Just here, is finding the secret of successful management of depression, that require a serious approaching from therapist. In the same time, it ought to understanding the course of illness by respective patient, in order to alleviation of suffering and to delay the relapse of illness. So, the elucidation of etiologic moments couldn’t prevent so much the breaking of this mental disease.

  3. I think it’s important to know that the “why” is not my fault. While in the cage of depression it is all to often reduced to “everything is my fault” and “I’m worthless.” Knowing that this disease is based on genetics and environment, most of wich I had no control over, can sometimes help in the darker times and may even help bridge the gap between deep depression and getting better.

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