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  • Writer's pictureEugene Roginsky






Biological Factors

Biological and genetic factors are pivotal in depression. A primary biological factor is neurotransmitter imbalance, affecting serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine levels crucial for mood regulation. Genetic studies link depression with familial predisposition and specific gene variations, though depression's genetic landscape is intricate, involving gene-environment interactions.

Hormonal imbalances, like those in thyroid conditions or during life stages (puberty, pregnancy, menopause), also impact mood. Brain imaging reveals structural and functional disparities in mood-regulating regions among depressed individuals, influencing emotional processing and stress response.

Chronic illnesses such as cardiovascular disease, cancer, and neurological disorders exacerbate depression. Medications for these conditions may induce mood changes and depression.

Understanding these factors is vital for tailored interventions and treatments that address depression’s diverse biological roots.

Psychological Factors

Depression can arise from a variety of psychological causes, often influenced by a combination of factors. Stressful life events, such as the loss of a loved one, divorce, or financial difficulties, can act as significant triggers. Chronic stress from ongoing issues at work or in personal relationships also contributes to the onset of depression. Individuals who experience traumatic events or prolonged periods of adversity may find themselves more vulnerable to depressive symptoms.

Personality traits play a crucial role in depression. Those with low self-esteem, excessive perfectionism, or a pessimistic outlook on life are at a higher risk. Negative thought patterns, such as all-or-nothing thinking, catastrophizing, and overgeneralization, can exacerbate feelings of hopelessness and helplessness. People who tend to ruminate or dwell on negative experiences and thoughts are particularly susceptible to depression. Additionally, unresolved psychological conflicts from childhood, such as trauma, abuse, or neglect, can manifest as depression later in life, and prolonged mourning or unresolved grief can also contribute to the condition.

A lack of effective coping skills can make individuals more prone to depression. Inadequate mechanisms for dealing with stress and adversity, poor problem-solving skills, and difficulty managing emotions can all lead to an increased risk of developing depressive symptoms. Social isolation further exacerbates this risk, as loneliness and a lack of social support can lead to feelings of isolation and hopelessness. Additionally, co-occurring psychological disorders, such as anxiety disorders, PTSD, or substance use disorders, often complicate the course and treatment of depression, making it essential to address these issues in conjunction with depressive symptoms.

Understanding these psychological causes is crucial for identifying risk factors and developing effective, tailored treatment plans. By recognizing the diverse origins of depression, individuals and healthcare providers can better address the condition and work toward recovery.

Social Factors

Social factors significantly contribute to depression, often interacting with psychological and biological influences. One major factor is social isolation and loneliness, where a lack of supportive relationships can lead to feelings of isolation, a significant risk for depression. Relationship problems, such as conflict, abuse, or lack of support from family, friends, or romantic partners, also play a critical role, with marital issues and breakups being common triggers.

Work and school stress, including high workloads, job insecurity, bullying, or lack of fulfillment, can lead to depression. Unemployment or underemployment adds significant stress. Financial difficulties, poverty, and living in disadvantaged neighborhoods increase the risk of depression, exacerbating feelings of hopelessness.

Cultural and societal pressures, like conforming to beauty standards, career success, or gender roles, can be overwhelming. Discrimination, racism, and social stigma further impact mental health. Traumatic events such as natural disasters, war, or violent crimes, along with experiencing or witnessing violence, abuse, or neglect, have long-lasting effects.

Limited access to healthcare hinders individuals from seeking help and managing depression. Stigma and lack of awareness often prevent access to mental health services.

Dysfunctional family relationships, including overprotective or neglectful parenting, contribute to depression. Growing up with prevalent mental health issues or substance abuse is also a risk factor.

Understanding these social factors helps in identifying potential triggers for depression and developing comprehensive strategies for prevention and treatment. Recognizing these diverse origins allows individuals and healthcare providers to address the condition effectively and work toward recovery.

NOTE: Seek help. You are not alone.

Treatment Options


  • Antidepressants: Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs), tricyclic antidepressants (TCAs), and monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs).

  • Mood Stabilizers: Often used for bipolar disorder (e.g., lithium, valproate).

  • Antipsychotics: Sometimes used in conjunction with antidepressants or mood stabilizers.

NOTE: Medications play a vital role in overcoming depression. It is essential to consult a licensed medical professional, especially if you experience thoughts of self-harm. If necessary, seek immediate assistance from your local hospital's emergency room. Finding the right medication can be challenging, but tools like DNA testing can assist in this process. Combining medical treatment with psychotherapy is a responsible and effective approach to managing and overcoming depression.


  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT): Focuses on identifying and changing negative thought patterns and behaviors.

  • Interpersonal Therapy (IPT): Focuses on improving interpersonal relationships and communication.

  • Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT): A form of CBT that emphasizes emotional regulation and mindfulness.

  • Psychodynamic Therapy: Explores unconscious patterns and past experiences that influence current behavior.

  • Grief Work: Specific approaches designed to help the individual through stages of grief.

  • Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (NLP): Affective method of treating psychological trauma and Post Traumatic Stress Disorders. See a licensed therapist for input if this treatment may be helpful with particular symptoms of depression.

NOTE: A licensed psychotherapist will create a treatment plan based on one or more psychotherapeutic modalities. While only four modalities are listed here for informational purposes, other psychological approaches may also be used.

Lifestyle Changes and Self-Care

  • Regular Exercise: Can help reduce symptoms of depression by increasing endorphins and improving mood.

  • Healthy Diet: Eating a balanced diet can positively impact mental health.

  • Sleep Hygiene: Establishing a regular sleep schedule and creating a restful sleep environment.

  • Stress Management: Techniques such as meditation, yoga, and deep breathing exercises.

Alternative Treatments

  • Light Therapy: Especially effective for SAD, involves exposure to bright artificial light.

  • Electroconvulsive Therapy (ECT): Used in severe cases where other treatments have not been effective.

  • Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS): A non-invasive procedure that uses magnetic fields to stimulate nerve cells in the brain.

  • Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP): Explore emotional regulation, anxiety management, and emotional programming techniques.

Coping Strategies

  • Build a Support Network: Reach out to friends, family, or support groups

  • Stay Active: Engage in physical activities you enjoy

  • Set Realistic Goals: Break tasks into smaller, manageable steps

  • Practice Mindfulness and Relaxation Techniques: Focus on the present moment and reduce stress

  • Limit Alcohol and Avoid Drugs: These can worsen depression and interfere with treatment

  • Engage in Activities You Enjoy: Find hobbies or activities that bring you pleasure and satisfaction.

NOTE: Create a Bliss List of at least five activities you enjoyed in the past. Copy that list five times and place the list in five locations around your home or workspace where you can easily see it. Whenever you look at the list, ask yourself: What’s stopping me from engaging in any of these activities this week or this month?


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Eugene Roginsky LCSW

About the author

Eugene Roginsky, LCSW, is a Licensed Psychotherapist based in Lake County, Illinois. With extensive experience in various mental health settings, including inpatient psychiatry, intensive outpatient programs (IOP), and outpatient therapy, Eugene brings a wealth of knowledge to his practice. He has been a keynote speaker at healthcare and mental health events and regularly teaches continuing education courses to nurses, clinical social workers, and healthcare administrators. His company, Bridge2Horizon Psychotherapy, and Counseling Services in Lincolnshire Illinois, offers individual, couples, and family therapy, as well as community wellness education.


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