What Is The Most Common Way People Get Depression?

Depression, a prevalent mental health condition affecting millions of individuals worldwide, often stems from a multitude of factors. While it can be triggered by various life events and circumstances, one key factor that stands out as a common pathway is the experience of prolonged stress. The relentless pressures of daily life, whether stemming from work, relationships, financial struggles, or other sources, can gradually wear down an individual’s mental wellbeing and lead them down the path of depression. Understanding the impact of stress as a primary contributor to depression is crucial in developing effective strategies for prevention and treatment.

Genetics and Family History

Genetic factors

Depression can be influenced by genetic factors, which means that if you have a family history of depression, you may be at a higher risk of developing the disorder. Research has shown that individuals with a first-degree relative, such as a parent or sibling, who has experienced depression are two to three times more likely to develop depression themselves. This suggests that there are certain genes that may increase the susceptibility to depression.

Family history

Family history also plays a significant role in the development of depression. Growing up in a household where one or both parents have experienced depression can create an environment that is more prone to depression. This could be due to a combination of genetic factors, as well as the learned behaviors and coping mechanisms that are passed down within families. Additionally, the stress and challenges that can arise from family dysfunction or a history of trauma may contribute to the development of depression.

Biological Factors

Brain chemistry

Another factor that can contribute to depression is an imbalance in brain chemistry. Neurotransmitters, such as serotonin, norepinephrine, and dopamine, play a crucial role in regulating mood. When there is a disruption in the production or functioning of these neurotransmitters, it can lead to symptoms of depression. Low levels of serotonin, in particular, have been linked to an increased risk of depression.

Hormonal imbalances

Hormones also play a role in regulating mood, and hormonal imbalances can contribute to the development of depression. For example, changes in estrogen and progesterone levels during premenstrual syndrome (PMS), postpartum, or menopause can lead to mood swings and depressive symptoms. Additionally, disorders such as thyroid dysfunction or adrenal insufficiency, which affect hormone production, can also increase the risk of developing depression.

Physical health conditions

Certain physical health conditions can also contribute to the development of depression. Chronic illnesses like cancer, heart disease, diabetes, and chronic pain can significantly impact a person’s quality of life and increase the risk of developing depression. The stress and emotional toll of managing these conditions, as well as the impact they have on daily functioning, can contribute to feelings of sadness, hopelessness, and fatigue.

Environmental Factors

Traumatic events

Experiencing a traumatic event, such as physical or sexual abuse, the sudden loss of a loved one, or a natural disaster, can trigger depression. Trauma disrupts a person’s sense of safety and can lead to feelings of helplessness, fear, and distress. The emotional and psychological impact of trauma can persist long after the event itself, increasing the risk of developing depression.

Abuse or neglect

Childhood experiences of abuse or neglect can have long-lasting effects on mental health. Growing up in an environment where abuse or neglect is present can lead to a higher risk of developing depression later in life. The pain and emotional turmoil experienced during these formative years can shape a person’s beliefs about themselves and the world around them, leading to negative self-esteem and difficulties in establishing healthy relationships.

Chronic stress

Chronic stress can also contribute to the development of depression. When you’re continuously exposed to high levels of stress, whether it’s due to work pressures, financial difficulties, or relationship problems, it can take a toll on your mental and emotional well-being. Prolonged stress can disrupt your brain chemistry and increase the risk of developing depression.

Loss or grief

Experiencing a significant loss, such as the death of a loved one or the end of a close relationship, can trigger a depressive episode. Grieving is a natural response to loss, but for some individuals, the grieving process can become complicated and lead to clinical depression. The profound sadness and emptiness that accompany grief can be overwhelming, making it difficult to engage in daily activities and find joy in life.

Personality and Psychological Factors

Low self-esteem

Low self-esteem can contribute to the development of depression. Individuals who have negative beliefs about themselves and feel a sense of worthlessness or inadequacy are more susceptible to developing depression. Negative self-talk and a lack of self-compassion can perpetuate a cycle of negative emotions and thoughts, leading to depressive symptoms.

Pessimistic thinking

A pessimistic thinking style, characterized by a tendency to see the worst in every situation, can also increase the risk of developing depression. If you constantly interpret events and experiences in a negative light and expect the worst outcomes, it can lead to feelings of hopelessness and despair. This negative thinking pattern can contribute to the onset and maintenance of depressive symptoms.


Being a perfectionist can be a double-edged sword. While a drive for excellence and high standards can be positive, extreme perfectionism can increase the risk of developing depression. The constant pressure to meet unrealistic standards and the fear of failure can lead to chronic stress and self-criticism, contributing to feelings of sadness and worthlessness. Perfectionists often struggle with self-acceptance and have difficulty acknowledging their achievements.

Lack of social support

A lack of social support and a limited network of close relationships can contribute to feelings of loneliness and isolation, which in turn can increase the risk of developing depression. Having a strong support system, consisting of family, friends, or a community, provides important emotional and practical support during challenging times. Without this support, individuals may feel disconnected and more susceptible to depressive symptoms.

Substance Abuse and Addiction


Alcohol abuse and depression often go hand in hand. Many individuals with depression turn to alcohol as a way to self-medicate and cope with negative emotions. However, alcohol is a depressant that can worsen depressive symptoms and exacerbate the underlying condition. The relationship between alcohol and depression is complex and can create a vicious cycle, leading to increased risk of both conditions.

Illicit drugs

Illicit drug use, such as cocaine, marijuana, or opioids, can also contribute to the development of depression. These substances can disrupt brain chemistry and increase the risk of developing mood disorders. Additionally, the lifestyle associated with drug use, including social isolation, financial difficulties, and legal issues, can further contribute to the development of depression.

Prescription medications

Some prescription medications have been associated with an increased risk of depression as a side effect. For example, certain medications used to treat high blood pressure, acne, or hormonal conditions can impact mood and lead to depressive symptoms. It’s important to discuss any potential side effects with your healthcare provider and seek alternative treatments if necessary.

Chronic Illnesses and Medical Conditions


Dealing with a chronic illness like cancer can have a profound impact on mental health, with depression being a common co-occurring condition. The physical symptoms, emotional distress, and treatment side effects associated with cancer can contribute to feelings of sadness, anxiety, and helplessness. It’s important for individuals with cancer to receive comprehensive support that addresses both the physical and mental aspects of their condition.

Heart disease

Heart disease and depression are closely linked, with each condition influencing the other. Individuals with heart disease are at an increased risk of developing depression, and those with depression have a higher likelihood of developing heart disease. The stress and emotional burden of managing a chronic condition like heart disease can contribute to depressive symptoms, while depression can also negatively impact heart health.


Dealing with a chronic condition like diabetes can be challenging and may lead to increased risk of developing depression. The constant vigilance required for managing blood sugar levels, the potential for complications, and the impact on daily life can be overwhelming. Additionally, the physiological effects of diabetes on brain chemistry can also contribute to the development of depression.

Chronic pain

Living with chronic pain conditions, such as fibromyalgia, arthritis, or back pain, can have a profound impact on mental health. Chronic pain can lead to feelings of frustration, helplessness, and sadness, increasing the risk of developing depression. The cycle of pain and negative emotions can become difficult to break, making the management of both the physical and emotional aspects important in treating these conditions.

Medications and Treatments

Certain medications

Certain medications used to treat various medical conditions can have depressive symptoms or depression listed as a potential side effect. For example, medications such as beta-blockers, corticosteroids, and statins have been associated with an increased risk of depression. It’s essential to discuss any potential side effects with your healthcare provider and explore alternative treatment options if necessary.

Side effects of treatments

In addition to certain medications, the side effects of treatments like chemotherapy, radiation therapy, or hormonal therapy can also contribute to depressive symptoms. The physical and emotional toll of these treatments, along with the uncertainties and fears associated with managing a serious illness, can increase the risk of developing depression. It’s crucial to have comprehensive support throughout the treatment process to address both the physical and psychological aspects of care.

Hormonal Changes


Puberty is a period of significant hormonal changes, and these fluctuations can impact mood and contribute to the development of depression. Adolescents going through puberty may experience increased levels of stress, body image concerns, and peer pressures, all of which can contribute to depressive symptoms. Finding healthy ways to cope with these changes and seeking support from trusted adults are essential during this stage.


The hormonal changes that occur during menopause can also contribute to the risk of depression. Fluctuating hormone levels, particularly low estrogen levels, can impact mood regulation. Additionally, menopause can bring about physical symptoms, such as hot flashes and sleep disturbances, which can further disrupt emotional well-being. It’s important for women going through menopause to seek support and discuss treatment options with their healthcare providers.


Pregnancy is a time of significant hormonal changes, and the fluctuations in hormone levels can impact mood. While many women experience mood swings and emotional changes during pregnancy, some may develop more severe depressive symptoms, known as perinatal depression. It’s important for expectant mothers to be aware of the signs and seek support from healthcare providers, as perinatal depression can have significant implications for both the mother and the baby.

Postpartum depression

Postpartum depression is a specific form of depression that occurs after childbirth. It is believed to be related to the hormonal changes that take place during pregnancy and immediately after delivery. The physical, emotional, and lifestyle adjustments that accompany having a newborn can be overwhelming, contributing to feelings of sadness, anxiety, and exhaustion. It’s crucial for new mothers to seek support and early intervention to promote their well-being and bonding with their baby.

Gender Disparities

Biological differences

Biological differences between genders may contribute to the disparities in depression rates. Hormonal variations, such as the fluctuations experienced during the menstrual cycle, pregnancy, and menopause, can impact mood regulation. Additionally, studies have shown that women may be more prone to developing depression due to differences in brain structure and chemistry.

Societal and cultural factors

Societal and cultural factors can also contribute to gender disparities in depression rates. Women may face higher levels of stress due to multiple roles and responsibilities, societal expectations, and gender discrimination. The cultural norms and expectations surrounding masculinity can also discourage men from seeking help for mental health issues, leading to underdiagnosis and underreporting of depression in men.

Age and Life Stages


Adolescence is a critical stage of development that comes with its own set of challenges and stressors. Hormonal changes, academic pressures, social changes, and the search for personal identity can all contribute to increased vulnerability to depression during this stage of life. It’s crucial for adolescents to have a supportive environment and access to resources that can help them navigate through these challenges.

Middle age

Middle age is often associated with significant life changes, such as career transitions, relationship challenges, or the onset of physical health conditions. The stressors and responsibilities that come with these changes, as well as the reflection on past achievements and future prospects, can contribute to increased risk of developing depression. It’s important for individuals in middle age to prioritize self-care, seek support, and address any underlying concerns.

Older adults

Depression is not a normal part of aging, but it can be more common among older adults due to various factors. Chronic health conditions, loss of loved ones, retirement, and social isolation can increase the risk of depression in older adults. Additionally, changes in brain chemistry and the presence of chronic pain or medical conditions can contribute to depressive symptoms. Early identification and appropriate treatment are crucial in supporting the mental health and well-being of older adults.

In conclusion, depression can arise from a variety of factors that interact with one another. Genetics and family history, biological factors, environmental factors, personality and psychological factors, substance abuse and addiction, chronic illnesses and medical conditions, medications and treatments, hormonal changes, gender disparities, and age and life stages all play a role in the development of depression. It’s important to recognize and address these factors to promote mental health and well-being. If you or someone you know is experiencing depressive symptoms, reach out to a healthcare professional for support.