Depression is the most common mental health issue worldwide. Therefore it is impossible not to ask where it comes from. Unfortunately, it is not possible to indicate one reason responsible for the development of depressive disorders. The underlying causes of depression are complex. The prevailing view is that it is of biopsychosocial origin.
Biological causes of depression
- Biochemical imbalance
One explanation for depression is the concept of a biochemical brain imbalance. The monoamine hypothesis assumes that the basis of depression is a reduced concentration of neurotransmitters – serotonin, noradrenaline and dopamine in the central nervous system. People suffering from depression have lower levels of these neurotransmitters. Serotonin deficiency is associated with decreased well-being and the development of depressive disorders. The basic drugs that regulate the activity of monoamine neurotransmitters in the brain are antidepressants from the SSRI group.
- Genetic factors
Biological theory also indicates the role of genetic predisposition to the occurrence of depressive disorders. The significance of genetic factors is not yet fully understood. It has been noted that depression occurs more often in people with a family history of depression. Depression, however, is not predetermined in case of persons, whose relatives have been suffering from it. In addition to genetic conditions, the development of the disorder is influenced by other family factors, such as the method of upbringing and transmitted patterns.
- Decreased neurogenesis and brain plasticity
The neurogenic theory assumes that the cause of depression is impaired neurogenesis (the process of neuronal formation). It has been demonstrated that in case of people suffering from depression, the hippocampus is characterized by reduced size and lower activity. Deficits were also noted in other brain areas. Depression therapies induce neurogenesis and increase the neuroplastic processes of the brain, allowing depression to subside.
- Inflammatory theory
Another theory from the biological group is that depression is associated with chronic inflammation. The cytokine theory says that when a long-term inflammatory processes take place in the body, depression occurs. Depression is much more common in people with chronic diseases, in which the inflammatory response is chronic. Elevated inflammation can be caused and sustained by an unhealthy lifestyle (poor diet, lack of exercise, sleep deprivation, alcohol, tobacco). Changing habits can be the key to feeling good again.
- Hormonal theory
There is a hypothesis that links the occurrence of depression with a hormonal imbalance of the body. Abnormal concentration of thyroid hormones results in symptoms of depression. Hormonal treatment should improve mood in such a situation. Sex hormone disorders can also be important in the development of depression.
- Intestinal flora dysbiosis
There are reports suggesting that imbalance of intestinal flora may affect the incidence of depressive disorders. The “belly” theory of depression seems intriguing, but it should come as no surprise, after all, the digestive system is directly connected to the central nervous system by the vagus nerve, and intestinal bacteria produce and regulate the activity of key neurotransmitters. The deterioration of the microbiome is influenced by, among others, poor diet and chronic stress.
Psychological causes of depression
- Stress factors
Stress can be one of the main causes of depression. Depression can occur where there is excessive stress and there are additional conditions. Stressful situations usually precede the onset of the first episodes of depression. Stress should not be underestimated as a depressive factor. The relaxation with VR TierOne GO headset offers an excellent preventive solution, protecting against the harmful accumulation of stress. Carefully designed 360° videos enable effective rest and stress reduction in an immersive VR environment.
Relaxation in the virtual setting of VR TierOne GO videos balances stress and serves health.
- Personality traits
There are certain personality traits associated with depression. The relationship between mental construction and increased propensity for depression was observed. It is indicated that people with the following personality type: dependent, avoidant, introverted, neurotic, with a tendency to react with anxiety, with a tendency to pessimism and perfectionism may experience depressive symptoms more often. Some traits, such as high reactivity to stressful stimuli and low self-esteem, render it difficult to cope with difficult moments in life, which may contribute to the development of depression.
Social causes of depression
- Loneliness and lack of support
Loneliness and a sense of isolation adversely affect our mental health. The lack of a supportive relationship with another person predisposes to the onset of depression. Depressed people, on the other hand, stop interacting with their surroundings. Loneliness can be both the cause and consequence of depression. The feeling of availability of supportive relationships with other people acts as a protection in the face of stressful life events. Maintaining bonds is very important for our well-being and health.
- Deterioration of our financial situation
A bad financial situation can catalyze the onset of depression. Lowering the material standard of living can exacerbate depressive symptoms. Unstable employment situation, job loss, loss of goods, poor material conditions are the risk factors. A worse financial situation may be related to traumatic events in life – the death of a spouse, a serious loss of health and, therefore, a lack of earning opportunities. The deterioration of the material situation is associated with loss of control over our life, insecurity, which brings us closer to depression.
Reducing the risk of depression
Regardless of the genesis of depression, it needs to be managed, because the disease poses a threat to the quality of life and can have lethal consequences. The treatment of depression is adapted to the needs of the patient and the dominant cause of the disorder. It can be done using pharmacotherapy, psychotherapy, and now also with the VR TierOne medical device in Virtual Reality. The intervention-supportive VR TierOne adds strength, increases activity and helps to take care of your own health. Virtual therapy can be used with patients, who have suffered a heart attack, stroke, COVID-19, and other illnesses that correlate with depression. Interaction with virtual therapy improves mood and motivation for pro-health changes. Therapy in the virtual Garden of Rebirth helps to reduce the onerous symptoms of depression and reduce the risk of depression in the future.