What Caused the Depression?
When an individual tries to figure out what caused the depression, each person looks at many factors. For some, the probable cause or causes of their depression can be found but for many, it cannot. Depression is thought to be caused by a combination of genetic, physical and psychological factors. Here is a look at what can, and cannot, cause depression.
Does Birth Control Cause Depression?
Birth control comes in many forms but all birth control contains differing amounts of estrogen and progestin (including progestin-only pills). While hormones are known to play a role in depression, birth control rarely causes depression; although it is more likely in pills higher in progestin. Depression has been reported as a birth control side effect; however, birth control pills have also been shown safe in women with depression.1
Can Alcohol Cause Depression?
Alcohol is a depressant and acts on the brain in varied and complex ways. Among other things, alcohol affects serotonin and glutamate, two chemicals thought to play a role in depression and about 40% of those who drink heavily show depressive symptoms.2 While alcohol likely does not cause depression directly, drinking does increase the risk of depression and tends to worsen existing depression symptoms. Alcohol can also cause severe interactions with some depression medications. 3
Read more information about: Alcoholism and Depression.
Can Facebook Cause Depression?
While the idea that Facebook causes depression may seem outlandish, there are psychological impacts of social media that can contribute to feelings of loneliness and lower life satisfaction.4 Teens that spend too much time online tend to overestimate the positive aspects of the lives of their friends, seeing only the positive information their friends share on Facebook. This leads teens to feel like they don't measure up to their friends and they may overcompensate by trying too hard to reach unachievable goals. Cyber-bullying, which commonly occurs on Facebook, is another possible cause of teen depression.
Does Marijuana Cause Depression?
Heavy marijuana smokers are diagnosed with depression more frequently than nonsmokers; however, it is not thought marijuana causes depression directly.5 It is thought many people with depression use marijuana as a way to cope with their depressive symptoms. A 2007 study shows small amounts of the active chemical in marijuana (THC), can actually reduce depressive symptoms while larger doses worsen depression and other mental illnesses.6
In-depth information on marijuana and depression here.
Foods That Cause Depression
It's unlikely diet causes depression directly and no food has been found to cause depression. However, an unhealthy diet has been shown to increase your risk of developing depression as well as other illnesses. A diet rich in fruits and vegetables, emphasizing fish over dairy and meat products, appears to lower the risk in developing illnesses like Parkinson's and Alzheimer's.7 Those with depression may also want to limit caffeine intake. While caffeine doesn't cause depression, it can disrupt sleep which can worsen depressive symptoms.8
Can Low Testosterone Cause Depression?
Low testosterone has not been conclusively identified as a cause of depression. However, low testosterone levels are associated with depression in older men.9
Can Antidepressants Cause Depression?
There is no documented evidence antidepressants cause depression; however, there is a warning on antidepressants indicating antidepressants may worsen depression symptoms. This warning was issued by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and is called a "black box" warning, which is the most serious warning the FDA can place on a product. Particularly during the first weeks of treatment, it's important to look for changes in behavior, worsening depression symptoms and suicidal thoughts or behavior. Any changes should be reported to the prescribing physician immediately.10
Read more comprehensive information on: Antidepressant Side Effects.
Does Menopause Cause Depression?
Changes in hormones may be a contributing factor to depression. In menopause, women experience changes in estrogen levels. Women, particularly those with a past history of depression, are at an increased risk of developing depression during menopause; however, menopause does not directly cause depression.
Can Pregnancy Cause Depression?
Pregnancy does not directly cause depression but can increase a woman's risk of developing depression dramatically. Postpartum depression is common with between 10% - 15% of women experiencing depression after the birth of a child. Postpartum depression is most common in women with existing risk factors such as:11
- Previous mental illness
- Experiencing a stressful birth
- An unplanned pregnancy
- Lack of social support
Last Updated: 06 February 2018
Reviewed by Harry Croft, MD