So… What causes depression anyway?

This is a question that is commonly asked, and is one that is often times hardest to answer. Admittedly, there are still a lot of gaps in medical knowledge that needs to be covered. According to Center of Addiction and Mental Health, there are primarily four main causes to depression1:

  • genetic factors
  • psychological vulnerability
  • life events
  • biological factors

Genetic factors:

Studies regarding twins have shown that there is a higher chance for those with family history of depression to also develop depression. As to the exact gene mutation, there is currently no known genes that are responsible for depression unlike in other diseases i.e. BRCA1 gene in breast cancer.

Psychological vulnerability:

Personality style and the way people think about and cope with problems can also contribute to depression.

Life events:

Experiencing prolonged difficult situations can increase the chance of someone developing depression. This is often the case in the context of post-secondary education i.e. consistently falling below own standards, getting poor grades, unable to gain entrance into professional school or getting employed.

Biological factors:

Because of evidence showing antidepressant medication which changes the balance of neurochemicals such as serotonin, there is belief that having hormonal or chemical imbalances in the brain may contribute to development of depression. It is so far unclear why certain individuals may have this imbalance while others do not.

For young adults under age of 25, their brains are not fully developed particularly in regions of impulsivity and emotional regulation. 2

~Mei Wen, Humans of Depression Representative

Remember to follow Humans of Depression on the following platforms:


  1. Depression: Overview. Retrieved from

  1. Steve Volk. Philadephia. “Tragedy of Madison Holleran and Suicides at Penn” Retrieved from

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