Potential Causes of Depression

Potential Causes of Depression
There are many known potential causes of depression—-from heredity to painful life events, such as losing a loved one. We can’t control those things, but there are some possible causes you might not have heard about. The following are a few things which might be either causing or exacerbating your depression.

Most people are aware of the fact that alcohol is a depressant, but because they associate alcohol consumption with having fun, they are under the mistaken assumption that drinking will make them feel better. Initially, it lowers inhibitions, but then it begins to also lower mood, especially with long-term use. It also impairs judgment, which can lead to extreme behaviors such as suicide, in those who are already depressed.

Many people associate sugar and caffeine with a high, or buzz. What they don’t usually think of is the crash that follows. We eat sugar, feel good, crash, drink caffeine, feel good, crash… It’s a never-ending cycle that leaves us feeling drained and down. Getting off sugar and caffeine is a good idea, but don’t go cold turkey. Caffeine withdrawal can cause irritability, headaches, and sometimes even nausea and vomiting.

There are also many prescription and over-the-counter medications which can cause or worsen depression, one of which is oral contraceptives. According to Katherine Burnett-Wilson of AphroditeWomensHealth.com, progestin lowers serotonin levels in the brain contributing to, or possibly causing, depression.

Anticonvulsants such as Tegretol have been linked to depression. According to the FDA, anticonvulsant drugs can increase instances of depression, as well as suicidal ideation. Many drugs called “mood stabilizers” are actually anticonvulsants. As with any drug, always read the literature you receive with your prescription, and notify your doctor of any side effects.

The FDA also warns that benzodiazepines (Xanax, Klonopin) may be responsible for worsening depression and suicidal ideation. Barbiturates such as Phenobarbital also received the same warning from the FDA.

Calcium-channel blockers such as Cardizem may also present a risk. The FDA lists depression in its possible psychiatric side effects. The FDA also said that fluoroquinolone antibiotics (Cipro, Floxin) may have side effects including depression and suicidal ideation.

The FDA warned that a very small percentage of patients taking opioids (codeine, morphine, OxyContin) reported depression. However, Interferon Alpha received a very strong warning by the FDA, “SEVERE PSYCHIATRIC ADVERSE EVENTS MAY MANIFEST…DEPRESSION, SUICIDAL IDEATION AND SUICIDE ATTEMPT MAY OCCUR.” (Capitalization theirs, not mine.)

Depression might also be brought on by serious illnesses, as well as drug abuse. However, in my opinion, many times depression is due to past trauma or abuse. It could be physical abuse from a former lover, sexual abuse from childhood, or myriad other types of abuse or trauma. Anything you experienced which hurt you, and caused you to feel weak, helpless, vulnerable or fearful, could cause you to suffer from depression many years later.

Anytime you see your doctor, be sure to mention your depression. It will probably make a difference in what medications she prescribes for you. She might recommend that you see a therapist, which could be the key to treating your depression. She might also prescribe antidepressants. Not everyone who is suffering from depression needs antidepressants, but if you do, don’t feel ashamed. There are millions of us who are right there with you.

If you are suffering from depression, consider removing alcohol, sugar and caffeine from your diet. If you are taking any medications, check with your doctor or pharmacist about drug interactions and the possible side effects of depression and suicidal ideation. We can’t control who our parents are, but we do have control over what we ingest. Be diligent in seeing that your medications aren’t causing, or contributing to, your depression.

Burnett-Wilson, Katherine. AphroditeWomensHealth.com. October 28, 2005.

U.S. Food and Drug Administration, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

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