Causes of Clinical Depression

Over nine million Americans are diagnosed with clinical depression at some point in their lives. Many more people suffer from clinical depression because they do not seek treatment. They may feel that depression is a personal weakness, or try to cope with their symptoms alone. On the other hand, some people are comfortable with admitting their symptoms and seeking help. Such a discrepancy may account for the differences in reported cases of depression between men and women, which indicate that more than twice the numbers of women than men are clinically depressed. According to the numbers of reported cases of depression, 25% of women and 10% of men will have one or more episodes of clinical depression during their lifetimes.

The biologic basis of Clinical Depression originates in the brain. Your brain is made up of a complex network of nerve cells, called neurons and of brain chemicals, called neurotransmitters. Neurotransmitters transmit messages from one neuron to another. Two of these neurotransmitters are not produced in sufficient quantities in a depressed person”s brain. Because of this lack, too few messages get transmitted between neurons and the symptoms of depression occur. In Clinical depression the chemicals in the brain are out-of-balance. New technology allows researchers to take pictures of the brain that show activity levels in the brain. These imaging techniques such as f-MRI and PET scan actually create images of how active different parts of the brain are. Some studies with these kinds of techniques have suggested that the patterns of activation in the brains of depressed people are different than those who are not. These tests can help doctors and researchers learn more about depression and other mental illnesses. Since this research is fairly new, it is not yet used to diagnose clinical depression.

Strong evidence suggests that clinical depression runs in families.

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