7 Triggers of Depression

by Jerry Kennard, Ph.D. Medical Reviewer

Is there a single cause for depression or is it a case of multiple causes – a fusion of issues that result in mood change? Well, it could be either. Sometimes the reason, or part of the reason, is obvious and sometimes not. The things that trigger depression in one person may not in another but in many cases there appears to be more than one reason. In this Sharepost I’m outlining just seven of the key areas known to have a bearing on depression.

Parent and child sitting at a table


Depression can run in families and if you have one parent who becomes severely depressed you are around eight times more likely to become depressed yourself. So far, no single depression gene has been isolated and the likelihood seems to be that combinations of genetic changes predispose certain people to depression.

Man and Woman sitting solemnly at beach


It is frequently pointed out that women are more prone to depression but we need to be cautious about assuming that being a male somehow protects from depression. Women often have complex and stressful lives but there is increasing evidence that suggests men do suffer with depression but they mask it by not expression emotions and using alcohol or other distractions as a way of coping.

Wine corks and bottle opener


Following on from the previous point, alcohol is sometimes used as a form of self-medication during depression but its regular and heavy use is also known to bring about depression.

Fired person holding box of their belongings on their way out.

Life events

Any number of major life events has the potential to result in depression. Job loss, divorce or relationship breakdown and bereavement are common examples.

Women standing by herself in the city at night

Isolation and loneliness

Most people like a little time to themselves but there’s a big difference between solitude and loneliness. Feeling socially isolated is confidence sapping and your inner voice begins to question your worth as a person and your value to society. The feeling that you have nothing to contribute and no one to turn to is highly stressful and can easily lead to depression.

Little boy with cancer


Even short-term illnesses such as influenza can change mood, but some longer term or chronic conditions can be life changing. Depression is commonplace following heart surgery or heart attacks, for example, but a range of other conditions from hormonal imbalances to cancers to chronic pain all increase the risk of depression.

Snow angel


Whether due to genes, early life experiences or a combination of both, the argument is that from early adulthood some people develop a generally gloomy view on life and become critical, negative, unhappy pessimists who worry and feel personally inadequate. People with these traits are argued to be more likely to suffer with major depressive episodes.

Jerry Kennard, Ph.D.
Meet Our Writer
Jerry Kennard, Ph.D.

Jerry Kennard, Ph.D., is a Chartered Psychologist and Associate Fellow of the British Psychological Society. Jerry’s work background is in mental health and, most recently, higher education. He is the author of various self-help books and is co-founder of positivityguides.net.