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Video:Causes of Clinical Depression

with Gary Trosclair

In this About.com video, learn about the main causes of clinical depression, and how counseling may help.See Transcript

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Transcript:Causes of Clinical Depression

Hi, I'm Gary Trosclair. I'm a psychotherapist with private practices in New York City and Westchester County, New York. I also supervise and teach clinical courses at the Jung Institute of New York. I'm here for About.com to discuss some causes of clinical depression.

Overview of What Causes Depression

Depression has a number of different causes. Inheritance, genetics and biology can play a role. In other cases, what we have been through in childhood and life can lead to a way of living and thinking that cause depression. And in still other cases, the depression may be related to a current situation in the person's life. In reality all of these overlap, but to make them clearer, I'll explain them separately.

Genetics as Cause of Depression

If your biological parents had major depression, you are more likely to experience depression yourself. Genes may be passed down from your parents that can lead to a biological vulnerability to becoming depressed. But this doesn't necessarily mean that you will become depressed. That will depend on other factors, such as how your parents treat you and how you go on to live your life. 

Potential Cause of Depression, Brain Neurochemistry

We also understand through studies of the brain, and studies of the effects of medication, that there's a biological component to depression. Many people experience symptom relief by taking medications such as Prozac, which appear to correct imbalances in brain chemistry. We aren't certain if those imbalances are the cause or result of depression, but it is clear that the brain's neurochemistry is associated with depression. 

Childhood Enviornment as Cause of Depression

Our environment during childhood is often at least part of the cause of depression too. No family is perfect and problems in childhood, such as neglect, criticism, loss or trauma, can lead to ways of adapting that cause us to be depressed. For instance, if a parent was ill when the child was young, the child may have felt upset and distraught about not being able to help. What many children will do in order to feel that they have some control, is to imagine that they're responsible for their parent's problem. That way they feel that if they can act better, then maybe the parent will get better. The result is that the child develops an unconscious habit of self-blame and over-responsibility, which can lead to depression. Or, if a child is continually disappointed by a parent, they might try to avoid and control disappointment by not allowing themselves to hope, or to get close to others. This sort of negative thinking, which we often refer to as “glass half-empty thinking,” can lead to ways of living that cause depression. 

Worrying About the Future as Cause of Depression

Another cause of depression has more to do with the present and the future. Sometimes we come to a point in our life where a new sort of behavior is needed. The old way of living is no longer fulfilling, but the way forward seems unclear or impossible.  In these cases, we need to see what blocks us from moving forward, and what's been left out of life so far. 

Those are some of the causes of clinical depression. For more information, please visit About.com. Thanks for watching. 

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