This is an extremely important subject that goes way beyond the scope of a weekly blog.
However, let me begin with some generalities.
There are basically two types of depression – reactive and endogenous. The former is caused by some event in your life – death, injury, a stroke, etc. The latter comes from within, where you might be depressed but are not sure why. In general, most cases of endogenous depression are caused by internalization of anger. Often times, simply removing the cause of the anger will eliminate the depression.
An extremely common cause of anger that can be internalized is the presence of excess adrenaline. Remember, this is the fight-or-flight hormone, so an excess can cause people to be quick to anger (think road rage), have trouble sleeping, feel anxiety, and it can lead to excessive drinking, smoking, or drug use.
Adrenaline is only one of a number of hormones that effects depression. A deficiency of progesterone is what causes post-partum depression. A low thyroid level, a low estradiol level, and a low DHEA level can all contribute to depression.
Certain situations where people experience a loss of control can commonly cause depression. An example of this is living in an abusive relationship with a partner who causes you to “walk on egg shells”. Another example of loss of control is when people can’t lose weight – they diet, exercise, etc. and nothing happens. They look in the mirror and get angry. In addition, being a caretaker for someone can create anger because your life is on hold until they pass on. These are the types of situations that not only can contribute to depression, but are also frequently associated with fibromyalgia.
Using antidepressants for depression is giving a band-aid. They do not eliminate the cause and frequently lead to other problems such as weight gain and loss of libido that can generate even more depression. Very often, simply getting hormones into balance can eliminate an underlying depression and this includes a bipolar-type depression.
Never underestimate the power of adrenaline. Probably 100% of people in AA have excess adrenaline. They get into drugs and alcohol very often just to chill out. When you take a hormone that is capable of creating rage and you internalize it, it is easy to understand why keeping this emotion inside can lead to depression.
Again, this is a complex subject, but an appreciation of what causes depression can often result in the elimination of this pervasive problem.