Depression is a challenging condition that, even if the symptoms are under control, there is a possibility of a recurrence. According to the World Health Organization, five percent of men and nine percent of women experience depression in any year. One major concern is the difficulty of pinpointing the exact causes of depression. However, learning and understanding factors that may trigger a depression can help manage and control its symptoms.
1. Death of A Loved One
Research by the American Cancer Society has shown that one in every five people develop major depression after the passing of a loved family member or friend. While grief is normal after losing a loved one, if the mourning period extends for too long, the grief may turn into depression. A person who is receiving depressive disorder treatment is at high risk of a relapse if he or she loses a loved one. In such a scenario, it’s critical to seek professional help to help the patient manage grief.
2. Major Life Events
In life, we pass through different phases that could positively or negatively affect our wellbeing. Even good events like a job promotion, going to college in another city or state, graduating or your own wedding can trigger depression. Lack of enough sleep and poor lifestyle habits can also lead to depression. On the one hand, depression can disrupt sleep, but on the other hand, if you don’t get sufficient sleep, depression can easily be triggered. People dealing with depression fall into a habit of eating unhealthy foods and they normally don’t exercise.
3. Certain Medications
There are particular drugs that affect the transmission of brain chemicals, including serotonin, the happy hormone, and neurotransmitter. Other neurotransmitters such as dopamine and noradrenaline may also be affected and their function disrupted. Drugs are also known to be sedative and make people feel withdrawn and indolent. Certain cells in some parts of the brain may also shrink when a person is depressed. Some of the drugs that affect the normal function of brain chemicals and are likely to trigger depression include:
- Anti-Parkinson’s disease drugs such as carbidopa and levodopa.
- Heart medications like Procardia
- Ritalin, the stimulant used in the treatment of attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).
- Corticosteroids It’s always advisable to read the label for possible side effects before taking any medication. If depression is listed, and you start feeling withdrawn, talk to your doctor immediately to switch medication.
Hormones are responsible for regulating various body functions. However, if their production exceeds or falls below the normal levels, then certain body functions are interrupted. This hormonal imbalance can lead to depression. One gland that can affect depression is the thyroid gland found in the neck. It produces hormones that regulate mood, metabolism, and growth. When the thyroid gland is underactive (hypothyroidism) or overactive (hyperthyroidism), you should have your doctor rule out the possibility of depression. Hormonal changes affect women most, and that explains why women are twice as likely as men to suffer from depression.
Life-threatening conditions such as cancer, diabetes, heart disease, chronic pain like arthritis, and stroke can trigger depression. Statistics show that one in five people hospitalized for heart attack falls into depression. Additionally, one-third of stroke survivors in the U.S. develop depression. The stress of suffering from a serious illness can trigger depression. Other illnesses affect parts of the brain that control and regulate emotions or increase inflammation in the bodies of people with cancer and heart disease among other serious conditions.
6. Addictive Behaviors
Substance abuse can trigger a depression too. This addictive behavior affects a person’s judgment and could potentially cause other illnesses. Likewise, spending too much time watching TV, alcohol, and gambling can also trigger depression. Getting out of addiction can be difficult and should be gradual. If you stop taking drugs or binge-watching, the sudden shift in neurochemistry can lead to depression. It’s advisable to seek professional help to guide you during this process.
7. Quitting Treatment
The most common trigger of a depression relapse is quitting treatment. When patients start feeling better, they stop taking their medications and discontinue psychotherapy. Since the treatment was not fully administered, depression symptoms start to creep in slowly, triggering another major episode. Doctors always advise that you stick to the treatment until you reach full remission.
Take Home Message
To effectively manage and control depression, you need to eat a healthy balanced meal, exercise regularly, avoid alcohol and illicit drugs, maintain a healthy sleeping habit, and avoid people who negatively affect your moods. Identifying what triggers an episode of depression will help you avoid such situations. Remember, causes of depression may be difficult to predict, and it’s always wise to seek professional help and social support when you feel any signs and symptoms of depression.
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