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Quick Boost

Jul
27
2011
Causes of Depression
By Vince Caimano
Category  Understanding and Living with Depression

It was surprising to see how people responded to our question about the biggest cause of their depression. In my experience it seems popular for individuals to say that their depression is caused by a "chemical imbalance" in their brains. The largest number of our respondents in our poll said that trauma, death of a loved one or stress brought it on.

Trauma is indeed a cause of depression. The most severe version of can be Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Stress or anxiety can lead to depression because of the dysfunctional or distorted thinking that often accompanies both.

When we have suffered a shock or personal loss we might engage in self-defeating thoughts that can ensnare us and drag us down like - "Conflict is bad, I need to avoid it at all costs" or "My life is meaningless without my loved one". These thoughts create artificial hurdles and limitations that make our lives impossible to live.

It is true that our brains operate differently when we are depressed but we don't know if this is the result or the cause of depression. It is also true that genetics play a role but not everyone who has a genetic predisposition toward depression gets depressed.

So coming back to the trauma, personal losses and stress - what can be done? Stress reduction and correcting can both be very helpful. These two techniques come together in Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction programs like that described in Full Catastrophe Living by Jon Kabat-Zinn.

Another very helpful approach is the related Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy program. A terrific book and practice CD is called The Mindful Way through Depression by Jon Kabat-Zinn and others.

Research shows that the skills learned in these programs provide lasting help and can reduce relapses by 50%. I hope that you are able to work with your thoughts and calm your mind and body and enjoy a fuller life.
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