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Can someone answer a question I have about depression please?

(11 Posts)
Doshusallie Mon 17-Mar-14 12:17:12

Apologies if this sounds stupid but I don't have any experience of my own to draw upon.

If, as I have heard is the case, depression is caused by a chemical imbalance in the brain, which can be treated with anti depressants that stabilise this imbalance, why do outside events sometimes cause depression? Like a death or redundancy or something awful happening? Would a life event trigger a chemical imbalance that perhaps wasn't previously there?

I am genuinely curious and I don't mean to imply that depression isn't a medical condition that requires treatment because of course that is nonsense. I hope you understand my question.


tiaramasu Mon 17-Mar-14 12:42:39

Interesting question.
fwiw, my view is that yes, life events end up causing a chemical imbalance.
Though I guess that chemical imbalances happen all the time to all people iyswim?
Might be a good question to post on General Health too.

AnaisB Mon 17-Mar-14 12:49:55

Everything that happens to us is associated with physical/chemical changes in the brain. Learning, bereavement, stress all have physical things that happen at the same time.

AnaisB Mon 17-Mar-14 12:53:13

Also, antidepressant don't always work. I think this is because depression is much more than a simple chemical imbalance.

Mitchy1nge Mon 17-Mar-14 13:04:37

have never met anyone who has had levels of any chemicals in their brain measured before being prescribed antidepressants so I think it must be a small part of the story at best

this psychiatrist is quite good on this sort of thing

SilverStars Mon 17-Mar-14 18:42:15
Is useful. It is not always a chemical imbalance it can be how people react or cope with stressful life events that can take time to deal with it says here.

TrueWorrier Mon 17-Mar-14 20:31:30

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

LEMmingaround Mon 17-Mar-14 20:47:08

The very simple answer to your question is yes. When you are stressed, either massively or for a prolonged period your brain is less able to produce certain hormones (chemicals) that prevent anxiety and that generally affect mood. These hormones run on a feedback system, the less the cells producing them produce, the less the cells that use them have receptors that the hormones can bind to. This leaves more of the chemicals floating around in the space between the cells, the cells that produce the hormones have receptors that effectively mop up excess hormone and this tells the cell that there is enough and not to produce anymore - it all culminates in less "happy hormones" being produced. So it becomes a vicious circle. Many anti-depressants work by blocking the receptors that mop up the excess so that more hormone is available to the receiving cells over a longer period of time and fewer messages are received by the producing cell to tell it not to produce more - the hope being, that in the long term, the brain produces enough of the hormones involved in preventing anxiety and depression. So with something like depresssion and anxiety it definately can be produced by a life event. I would guess that most depression is triggered this way.

Its not just chemicals though - its thought processses as well, which is why therapies such as CBT (cognitive behavioural therapy) work so well as they help the person overcome negative thoughts. The same with traditional counselling that allows a person to get closure on bad things that may have happened to htem.

Not all mental illness is caused by events, there could be a genetic reason, so someone with schizophrenia will have a genetic origin to their condition, so would someone who is bi-polar and many other mental health disorders - disorders tend to be less easy to "cure" and these people would most likely need to be on long-term, if not life-long treatment for their conditions.

I suffer from anxiety and depression, i can trace it back to when my father died when it really came to a head, this was 8 years ago, i had treatment and counselling and it got better, although the anxiety never really left me, then something happened last year an it triggered it again. I am on medication, it helps alot. I think i have always had anxiety and self esteem issues, maybe they came from my childhood, im not sure.

<waves to trueworrier, hope you are doing ok>

LEMmingaround Mon 17-Mar-14 20:48:44

trueworrier, explained things much better than i did smile

Doshusallie Tue 18-Mar-14 09:10:10

thankyou very much for all replies

TrueWorrier Tue 18-Mar-14 10:15:03

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

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