The Main Causes of Depression
Depression is a mental disorder in which biological factors, lifestyle, diet, stress, and emotion management all play a role.
Behind any type of depression there is always a complex interaction of different factors. As Cinthya Molina, one of the psychologists at SHA Wellness Clinic, tells us, ‘It is the sum of all of them that causes the depressive disorder. On the one hand, there are biological factors, ranging from genetic predisposition to alterations in serotonin or dopamine reuptake mechanisms, hormonal changes (such as postpartum depression), or suffering from an illness. On the other hand, there are psychosocial factors, which refer to the traumatic experiences we face in our lives: the loss of a loved one, dismissal from a job, separation, or physical abuse. Here, it is important to understand that negative emotions, such as sadness, grief, fear, or frustration, are part of life and that we must learn to manage them. Finally, there are personality traits.’
A diet based on ultra-processed foods rich in sugars, a sedentary lifestyle, poor sleep hygiene, poor management of stress and emotions, or the consumption of drugs and alcohol are all declared enemies of mental health. ‘Digestive health and mental health are closely linked. It has been shown that gut microbiota are associated with mood and influence both brain chemistry as well as our behaviour. Not surprisingly, 90% of serotonin, the so-called happiness hormone, is produced in the digestive tract. That’s why a healthy diet, with a focus on seasonal fruit and vegetables, whole grains, vegetable fats, legumes, seeds, and nuts, is a natural way of both preventing depression and overcoming it,’ says Cinthya.
Another cause of depression is poor physical health, since everything in the human body is interconnected. ‘As well as keeping you fit, helping you control your weight, promoting inner balance and releasing serotonin and dopamine, regular moderate exercise lowers cortisol levels, which is the stress hormone, a factor closely associated with the depressive disorder dysthymia, which is a less severe but chronic depressive condition. If the body works well, so does the mind, and vice versa. Another advantage of physical exercise is that it promotes restorative rest, which is essential for good mental health. This is because poor sleep, either too much or too little, is both a cause and a consequence of depression,’ adds the expert.
One positive fact is that, in recent years, ‘the stigma associated with mental disorders is decreasing, thanks mainly to the fact that many public figures talk about them in a completely natural way. This visibility is a fundamental element because it allows us to diagnose depressive disorders earlier and correctly, which is the first step towards a cure,’ concludes Cinthya.
To learn more about how diet and stress influence depression, Click here