Although there is no one answer for the cause of a mental illness like depression, depression can be caused by a combination of genetic and environmental factors.
Genetics – Depression can be caused by abnormal or impaired brain chemistry. Depression is more likely to occur in individuals who have a relative who suffers from depression.
Environmental factors – Stressors, life’s challenges, and challenging situations can be linked to people with depression but not everyone who goes through something challenging will develop depression.
Exposures before birth – Exposure to drugs, toxic materials, medical conditions and stressors may contribute to depression in the womb.
Veterans become more at risk for depression when they are in active duty due to the environmental factors of war.
Depression symptoms and signs can vary depending on the individual and there is a wide variety of symptoms.
Examples of Depression symptoms:
- Feeling sad, guilt
- Irritability, restlessness, or loss of interest in activities
- Suicidal thinking
- Low energy and changes in sleep or weight
- Trouble with concentrating, decision making, or remembering
Depression occurs more frequently in people who have certain risk factors, but this list is not comprehensive and not everyone who experiences these risks will develop depression.
Risk factors for Depression include:
- History of abuse or neglect
- Limited healthy relationships
- Traumatic experiences
- Chronic medical conditions
- History of mental illness in a relative
- Substance abuse
- Loss of a loved one
Along with the risk factors listed above, veterans have an additional risk of developing depression due to the military environment. Veterans while in active duty are removed from their loved ones and support systems. Active duty can act as a catalyst for depression because military members may see themselves or others get hurt.