“I had a few of those episodes that were very real, real serious, like that. And that’s why I don’t own a gun anymore.”
Former NFL Quarterback
The information presented in this site is not intended as and should not be considered medical advice. Please consult your health care professional for an opinion regarding a specific medical condition.
What Causes Depression?
Research hasn’t found any one cause for depression. But, both genes and environment seem to play roles in changing the brain chemistry that affects your mood. In some cases, depression can run in the family, but people with no family history of depression can get it too.
Stress can also play a role in depression. Men of all ages go through major life changes like leaving home for work or college, moving to a new city or country, losing a job, retirement, or finding out that you have a health problem. Some common changes or events that can trigger depression are:
- Stress at school, work, or home
- Reaching or not reaching your goals
- Sudden money problems
- Relationship problems
- Being away from friends and family
- Combat experience
- The death of a loved one
- Verbal, physical, or sexual abuse
- A serious illness or accident
- Failing a test or class
- Dropping out of school
- Parents’ divorce
- Experimenting with drugs and alcohol
- Starting a stressful job, college, or military service
- Moving or leaving home for the first time
- Questions about one’s sexuality
- Losing or changing a job
- Starting a family
- Family responsibilities like caring for children, a spouse/partner, or aging parents
It’s not just major events. Everyday stress can also trigger depression, including:
- Constant money problems
- Chronic illness
FOR YOUNG MEN
Leaving the security of home for the unkown of college or a job, perhaps in an unfamiliar place, carries great potential for stress. Young men especially, can be depressed and suffer from other health issues at the same time. Some of the more common issues that young men experience with depression are anxiety disorders and substance abuse.
STRESSES OF MID-LIFE
In the middle years, men face stresses related to their families and jobs--losing a job, being looked over for a promotion, having to uproot the family to move to another branch are a few examples. Illness to a family member, whether an aging parent, a child, spouse or oneself, adds many hours to the “workday” and is a common stressors. And illness also has an impact on family finances, especially for those without health insurance. Juggling a job and childcare is never stress-free. All of these stress factors are intensified when both spouses have to work.
THE STRESS OF RETIREMENT
Retirement can bring with it feelings of decreased social worth. And, it’s true that as we age we attend more funerals and face more genuine sadness and grief from the loss of loved ones and friends. These feelings are normal, but they can lead to depression. Likewise, aging may be accompanied by a loss of independence and ability to do things that used to provide joy and meaning in life. That, too, can trigger depression.
Sometimes other health problems play a role. Finding out that you have a serious health condition, like cancer, or dealing with the chronic pain that comes with age can trigger depression also.
Nutrition can play a role, too – sometimes not getting enough folate or omega-3 fatty acids can make you feel like you’re depressed. Or, sometimes problems with your thyroid (hypothyroidism) or not having enough testosterone can make you feel depressed, too. And, if you drink alcohol or take certain drugs, like sedatives or medications to reduce high blood pressure, you may be more likely to become depressed. Thankfully, most of these conditions can be treated or are problems that you can manage on your own.
There are also some health problems that occur more often with depression than others. One of the most common is heart disease. People with heart problems have higher rates of depression, and people who are depressed have higher rates of heart disease. Other illnesses that are often seen with depression include:
- Alcohol and drug abuse
- Anxiety disorders
- Chronic illnesses like diabetes, cancer, HIV, Parkinson’s disease, and Alzheimer’s disease
- Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)