Tag: Depression

Depression causes and factors

Depression causes and factors

Throughout the world, over 264 million people struggle with depression. Do you suspect that you’re one of them?

To combat this common mental health disorder, it’s important to understand what causes it and who faces the greatest risk of developing it. Read on to learn more about common depression causes and risk factors, as well as some potential treatment options.

What Is Depression?

Depression (also known as major depressive disorder) is a mental illness that negatively affects the way one feels, thinks, and behaves. It may cause intense feelings of sadness, as well as a loss of interest in things that you once loved to do.

Depression Symptoms

Depression symptoms can vary quite a bit from person to person. Some people’s symptoms are very mild, while others are much more severe.

The following are some of the most common warning signs people with depression tend to exhibit:

  • Mood changes (typically feeling sad or hopeless)
  • Loss of enjoyment in the activities one once enjoyed
  • Appetite changes
  • Weight loss or weight gain
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Sleeping too much
  • Increased fatigue
  • Adoption of purposeless physical activities (such as pacing, wringing the hands, tapping the foot, etc.)
  • Slower movements or speech
  • Feelings of worthlessness or guilt
  • Difficulty thinking or concentrating at school or work
  • Thoughts of death or thoughts of suicide


To be formally diagnosed with depression, these symptoms must persist for at least two weeks. They must also change your level of functioning from where it was previously.

It’s important to note that many health conditions can mimic the symptoms of depression, including brain tumors and thyroid conditions. Getting checked out by a physician can rule out these potential causes and make it easier for you to get a firm diagnosis.

Consequences of Untreated Depression

Consequences of Untreated Depression

If depression is left untreated or is not treated properly, your chances of experiencing more serious health issues increase.

For example, some research has shown a link between untreated major depression and a higher risk of death after having a heart attack.

Untreated depression can contribute to long-term sleep issues, too. Chronic poor sleep can increase one’s chances of gaining weight and becoming obese. Obesity, in turn, comes with more health problems, including an increased risk of heart disease and stroke.

People who are clinically depressed may also be more prone to drug and alcohol abuse. If their symptoms go unaddressed for too long, they may even decide that they no longer want to live and will take their own lives.

Depression Causes

Depression is a multifaceted condition. Many different issues can cause depression symptoms, but the following are some of the most well-known:

Genetics

Some people are genetically predisposed to depression. In fact, some studies even suggest that depression is roughly 40 percent determined by a person’s genetics.

If you have a family history of depression, you might be more likely to experience it yourself. One study showed that a person’s chances of developing depression doubled if they had a parent or grandparent with depression.

Researchers don’t know for sure which genes contribute to depression. They have found, though, that several different genes can play a role. They’ve also made it clear that genes, alone, are not always the deciding factor, and that environmental influences are also part of the picture.

Chemical Imbalances

In addition to genetic predisposition, chemical imbalances can also cause or contribute to depression symptoms. Some researchers believe that depression is caused by an imbalance in neurotransmitters.

Neurotransmitters are chemical messengers, and many of them play important roles in mood regulation, including serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine. If a person is deficient in or has too much of one (or more) these neurotransmitters, it may cause or worsen their symptoms of depression.

Major Life Events

Sometimes, a person develops depression after they’ve experienced a major life event. Many different kinds of events could be traumatic and cause depression. The following are some common examples to keep in mind:

  • Abuse
  • Death of a loved one
  • End of a relationship
  • Moving to a new place
  • Starting a new phase of life (getting a new job, going to college, getting married, etc.)


This last point is particularly noteworthy. Even seemingly positive events, like going away to college, can be triggering, especially to those who are predisposed to depression.

Serious Illnesses

When someone is diagnosed with a serious illness, their chances of developing depression increase.

People who have terminal illnesses or who have had a serious scare (such as a heart attack or stroke) may experience symptoms of depression as they grieve their diagnosis and fear for the future. It’s also common for those who have chronic illnesses like diabetes, multiple sclerosis, fibromyalgia, or cancer to become depressed.

Medications

Certain medications can cause depression symptoms as a side effect.

Commonly used drugs like isotretinoin (which is used to treat acne), interferon-alpha (an antiviral drug), and corticosteroids all can increase one’s chances of depression. Some people become depressed after starting birth control pills, too.

Depression Risk Factors

If any of the above apply to you, you might be more prone to depression than others. Here are some other common depression risk factors to be aware of:

Gender

Women are approximately twice as likely to experience depression as men.

Researchers aren’t completely sure why this is the case. However, they suspect that it has to do (at least in part) with the presence of female hormones like estrogen and progesterone.

Women experience more intense hormonal fluctuations, especially during their reproductive years. These ups and down may contribute to mood changes and cause imbalances that cause or worsen depression symptoms.

Seasonal Changes

Some people find that they’re more prone to depression at certain times of the year, particularly when winter arrives and the sun is not out as often. This condition is known as Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD for short).

When you aren’t exposed to sunlight as often, you may experience a decrease in serotonin levels in your brain. You may also experience changes in melatonin production, which can throw off your sleep cycles and exacerbate mood issues.

Unhealthy Diet

There is some early research that suggests vitamin and nutrient deficiencies can cause or worsen symptoms of depression.

For example, some studies show that a lack of omega-3 fatty acids, or an excessive amount of omega-6 fatty acids, is linked to increases in depression. Diets high in sugar have been linked to depression, too.

These kinds of diets might contribute to depression symptoms because they increase inflammation in the body and the brain. Recent studies have revealed a connection between depression and high levels of inflammation, although it’s unclear if depression causes the inflammation or vice versa.

Alcohol or Drug Use

Alcohol and drug use can both cause or exacerbate depression symptoms, too. This is a tricky one because it’s not always clear which comes first, the depression or the substance abuse.

For example, someone might feel depressed and then turn to alcohol or drugs to help them cope. Others might develop a dependency on these substances first, and then experience depression, guilt, or shame because of their dependence.

Depression Treatment Options

Depression is a serious mental health condition, but it is treatable. The following are some potential treatment options that can help someone with depression manage their symptoms, improve their mood, and feel more like their old self:

Antidepressants

Often, those who are struggling with depression feel better when they start taking an antidepressant. There are many different types of antidepressants, including these common prescriptions:

  • Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (or SSRIs): These drugs improve the way in which the brain uses the neurotransmitter serotonin
  • Serotonin and Norepinephrine Reuptake Inhibitors (or SNRIs): These drugs improve the ways in which the brain uses serotonin and norepinephrine
  • Tricyclic Antidepressants: These drugs are similar to SNRIs, but they tend to come with more side effects than other medications


Psychotherapy

Communicating with a therapist and having regular psychotherapy sessions can also help those with depression to work through their feelings and find relief from their symptoms.

Many people find significant relief when they begin psychotherapy. They also find that it can increase the effectiveness of their antidepressants.

Exercise

Physical activity helps the brain to produce endorphins, which are chemical messengers that have a positive effect on one’s mood. For mild depression symptoms, exercise can be a great management tool. Others find more relief when they combine it with psychotherapy and or antidepressant use.

Residential Treatment

Some people benefit the most when they get away for a while and stay in a residential treatment center. These facilities give them a chance to take a break from regular life while also working with a certified therapist, receiving medication to help them manage their symptoms, and participating in other types of therapy (art therapy, journaling, yoga, meditation, etc.).

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Get Help for Depression Today

The more informed you are about the causes and risk factors of depression, the easier it is to spot warning signs and get help as soon as possible.

Do you need help managing your depression? If so, we’re here for you. Contact us today to learn more about our residential treatment facility.

What Is Burnout

What is burnout?

Approximately 77 percent of workers have reported feeling burned out at some point in their current job. Forty-two percent have also said that they’ve left a job because of burnout.

Do you suspect that you’re struggling with burnout? If so, read on to learn more about what it looks like and what you can do to prevent and combat it.

What Is Burnout?

The term “burnout” was originally coined by Herbert Freudenberger, who wrote about it in his book, “Burnout: The High Cost of High Achievement” in 1974. Freudenberger defined burnout as “the extinction of motivation or incentive.”

Burnout is most commonly referred to in the context of one’s job. For example, if one is constantly feeling stressed out about work, to the point where they feel exhausted, cynical, and incapable of doing their job well, they may be dealing with burnout. In these instances, burnout might also be called executive burnout or executive stress.

It’s possible to experience burnout in other areas of your life, too. A single mom may start to feel burned out from all the responsibilities that come with caring for her children. An adult child may also develop caregiver burnout after handling an elderly parent’s medical care as they age.

Severe stress in one area of life can also contribute to burnout in another. Perhaps, when everything is going well at home, you can handle the stress of your job without any issues. When you have a lot on your plate at work and you’re caring for a sick parent or the demands of single parenthood, though, you might be more susceptible to burnout.

Signs of Burnout

Signs of Burnout

The sooner you can spot the signs of burnout, the easier it is to deal with them. The following are some of the most well-known burnout warning signs to watch for:

Cynicism

When dealing with burnout, it’s common for people to see their jobs (or the specific part of their life that’s causing the burnout) as stressful or frustrating. This perception, in turn, can cause them to become cynical.

Eventually, they might start to distance themselves from others and develop a negative view of their job or other responsibilities (such as caregiving).

Poor Physical Health

Burnout can contribute to a variety of physical health problems. People in the throes of burnout might experience more headaches or stomachaches, for example. They might have pain in their next, shoulders, or back, too.

Exhaustion

When you’re burned out, you’ll likely feel exhausted mentally and physically. You might struggle to stay awake or alert during the day, or you may find that it takes you longer to solve problems or take care of tasks that were once easy for you.

Performance Changes

Burnout can hinder your ability to handle everyday tasks and carry out your responsibilities at work. It can also get in the way of your ability to care for family members. You might develop a bad attitude when dealing with these tasks, or you might struggle to concentrate or solve problems effectively.

Burnout vs. Depression

Burnout can often look very similar to depression, and people who are experiencing burnout might also be depressed. There’s are a couple of key differences between these two conditions, though.

First, depression causes people to have negative feelings and thoughts about all aspects of their lives. Burnout is typically limited to just one area, such as work, caring for a family member, etc.

Depression also comes with other, more serious symptoms. These include prolonged sadness and thoughts of ending one’s life.

Burnout Risk Factors

Anyone can develop burnout, no matter what kind of job they hold or what’s going on in their personal life. However, some people might be more susceptible to burnout than others.

Here are some risk factors that may increase your chances of becoming burned out:

Being a Perfectionist

Being a perfectionist seems like a good thing at first. When you always demand perfection and don’t allow room for mistakes, though, you set yourself up for extreme stress and potential burnout.

Being a Pessimist

A pessimist is more like to view the world as a threatening place. They’re more prone to worrying about things going wrong, and they expect bad things to happen.

Pessimistic people, as a result of these views, tend to experience higher levels of stress than optimistic people. This prolonged stress, over time, can contribute to burnout symptoms.

Being Easily Excitable

An excitable person is someone who is easily triggered during stressful situations. They might become anxious quickly or be “jumpier” and more nervous than their peers.

Understandably, excitable people are more likely to experience chronic stress than those who are more relaxed. These tendencies also make them more susceptible to burnout.

Being “Type A”

People with Type A personalities embody many of the traits mentioned above.

They tend to operate from a place of urgency, too, and are more impatient than other personality types, for example. They’re more competitive, as well, and are likely to draw correlations between their self-worth and their achievements at work or in their personal lives.

Type A personalities are more likely to experience cardiac arrest (heart attacks). This is probably because they’re more prone to chronic stress and burnout.

Misalignment of Values

If your job doesn’t align with your values, you might also find that you’re more susceptible to burnout. When you’re spending 8-plus hours per day doing something you don’t enjoy or don’t believe in, it’s a lot harder for you to weather the difficult times and cope with stress in healthy ways.

Consequences of Burnout

If you don’t address signs of burnout or take steps to prevent it from happening, you could be setting yourself up for some more serious health issues. The following are some potential consequences of unmanaged burnout:

  • Increased risk of elevated cholesterol
  • Increased risk of type 2 diabetes
  • Increased risk of cardiovascular disease
  • Worsened chronic pain
  • Increased fatigue
  • Increased frequency or intensity of headaches
  • Gastrointestinal issues
  • Respiratory problems
  • Increased alcohol consumption
  • Strained relationships (at home or at work)


If you’re dealing with burnout at work, specifically, and experience a decrease in performance, you also run the risk of being penalized or possibly fired.

How to Avoid Burnout

What can you do to prevent burnout? Here are some strategies you can implement at home and at work:

Communicate Your Needs

Often, people who experience burnout have a hard time asking for help. They might struggle to acknowledge that they’re having trouble juggling everything, instead preferring to pretend everything is fine.

By communicating your needs and asking for help when necessary, you can prevent your stress bucket from overflowing.  

Delegate When Possible

In addition to asking for help, it’s important to also delegate whenever you can. Remember, you don’t have to do everything yourself, especially if it means putting your physical or mental health at risk.

By handing over tasks to others, you give yourself space to do a better job with what’s left on your plate, which is better for everyone in the long run.

Prioritize Physical Health

Do your best to take care of your physical health, even during stressful times. Exercise regularly and eat healthy meals. Get enough sleep each night, too, and try to reduce your intake of harmful substances, such as alcohol.

Prioritize Mental Health

The practices mentioned above are also great for your mental health. Some other steps you can take include writing in a journal or talking to friends, family members, or colleagues about how you’re feeling. You can also take up practices like meditation or yoga to reduce your stress.

How to Treat Burnout

Are you already experiencing signs of burnout? If so, consider doing some (or all) of the following to manage your symptoms and improve your well-being:

Identify the Source

Take a step back and try to pinpoint the cause of your burnout. What part of your job feels like “too much?” Did you recently take on a particular task right before your symptoms started?

Talk to Someone You Trust

Go to someone you trust and share how you’re feeling. Talk to a manager, a supervisor, someone from HR, etc. They may be able to help you come up with a plan to lighten your load.

Establish Boundaries

Sometimes, burnout happens because we’re not setting clear boundaries. If we’re working all hours and never turning off our phones, for example, we’re creating a recipe for disaster.

Seek Professional Help

Don’t underestimate the benefits of working with a professional, either. Consider seeing a therapist or even spending time at a residential treatment center.

This can give you a chance to relax, learn how to cope with stress in helpful ways, and come up with an action plan so you don’t experience burnout again.

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Get Help with Burnout Today

Now that you know more about burnout, what it looks like, and the long-term consequences it can have, what do you think? Could you be suffering from burnout? Could you benefit from some burnout treatment?

If so, we’re here to help. Contact us today to learn more about our services and what we can do to help you manage your stress and feel your best.

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