Essay On Depression: Causes, Symptoms And Effects

essay about causes of depression

Our life is full of emotional ups and downs, but when the time of down lasts too long or influences our ability to function, in this case, probably, you suffer from common serious illness, which is called depression. Clinical depression affects your mood, thinking process, your body and behaviour. According to the researches, in the United States about 19 million people, i.e. one in ten adults, annually suffer from depression, and about 2/3 of them do not get necessary help. An appropriate treatment can alleviate symptoms of depression in more than 80% of such cases. However, since depression is usually not recognized, it continues to cause unnecessary suffering.

Depression is a disease that dominates you and weakens your body, it influences men as well as women, but women experience depression about two times more often than men.

Since this issue is very urgent nowadays, we decided to write this cause and effect essay on depression to attract the public attention one more time to this problem. I hope it will be informative and instructive for you. If you are interested in reading essays on similar or any other topic, you should visit our website . There you will find not only various essays, but also you can get help in essay writing . All you need is to contact our team, and everything else we will do for you.

Depression is a strong psychological disorder, from which usually suffers not only a patients, but also his / hers family, relatives, friends etc.

General information

More often depression develops on the basis of stress or prolonged traumatic situation. Frequently depressive disorders hide under the guise of a bad mood or temper features. In order to prevent severe consequences it is important to figure out how and why depression begins.

Symptoms and causes of depression

As a rule, depression develops slowly and insensibly for a person and for his close ones. At the initial stage most of people are not aware about their illness, because they think that many symptoms are just the features of their personality. Experiencing inner discomfort, which can be difficult to express in words, people do not ask for professional help, as a rule. They usually go to doctor at the moment, when the disease is already firmly holds the patient causing unbearable suffering.

Risk factors for depression:

  • being female;
  • the presence of depression in family anamnesis;
  • early depression in anamnesis;
  • early loss of parents;
  • the experience of violence in anamnesis;
  • personal features;
  • stressors (parting, guilt);
  • alcohol / drug addiction;
  • neurological diseases (Parkinson's disease, apoplexy).

Signs of depression

Depression influences negatively all the aspects of human life. Inadequate psychological defense mechanisms, in their turn, affect destructively not only psychological, but also biological processes.

The first signs of depression are apathy, not depending on the circumstances, indifference to everything what is going on, weakening of motor activity; these are the main clinical symptoms of depression . If their combination is observed for more than two weeks, urgent professional help is required.

Psychological symptoms:

  • depressed mood, unhappiness;
  • loss of interest, reduced motivation, loss of energy;
  • self-doubt, guilt, inner emptiness;
  • decrease in speed of thinking, inability to make decisions;
  • anxiety, fear and pessimism about the future;
  • daily fluctuations;
  • possible delirium;
  • suicidal thoughts.

Somatic symptoms:

  • vital disorders;
  • disturbed sleep (early waking, oversleeping);
  • eating disorders;
  • constipation;
  • feeling of tightness of the skull, dizziness, feeling of compression;
  • vegetative symptoms.

Causes of depression

It is accepted to think in modern psychiatry that the development of depression, as well as most of other mental disorders, requires the combined effect of three factors: psychological, biological and social.

Psychological factor (“Personality structure”)

There are three types of personality especially prone to depression:

1) “Statothymic personality” that is characterized by exaggerated conscientiousness, diligence, accuracy;

2) Melancholic personality type with its desire for order, constancy, pedantry, exessive demands on itself;

3) Hyperthymic type of personality that is characterized by self-doubt, frequent worries, with obviously low self-esteem.

People, whose organism biologically tends to depression development, due to education and other social environmental factors form such personality features, which in adverse social situations, especially while chronic stress, cause failure of psychological adaptation mechanisms, skills to deal with stress or lack of coping strategies.

Such people are characterized by:

  • lack of confidence in their own abilities;
  • excessive secrecy and isolation;
  • excessive self-critical attitude towards yourself;
  • waiting for the support of the close ones;
  • developed pessimism;
  • inability to resist stress situations;
  • emotional expressiveness.

Biological factor:

  • the presence of unfavorable heredity;
  • somatic and neurological head injury that violated brain activity;
  • changes in the hormonal system;
  • chronobiological factors: seasonal depressive disorders, daily fluctuations, shortening of REM sleep;
  • side effects of some medications.
  • Heredity and family tendency to depression play significant role in predisposition to this disease. It is noticed that relatives of those who suffer from depression usually have different psychosomatic disorders.

Social factor:

  • the presence of frequent stress situations, chronic stress;
  • adverse family relationships;
  • adverse childhood experience, the absence of tenderness from parents, ill-treatment and sexual harassment, interpersonal loss, severe methods of education, negative childhood memories;
  • urbanization;
  • significant changes in the life;
  • population migration;
  • increased lifetime.

People in a state of chronic stress suffer from depression more often. If some acute stress situation happens during the period of chronic stress, the probability of depression symptoms development increases.

If you decide to fight the depression, remember that you are not alone! Every fifth person in the world at least once in the life experienced depression. If you notice the signs of depression that disturb you for more than two weeks, you should go to the specialist.

Do not delay visit, in this case time does not heal. The professionalism of the doctors and a complex program of treatment will help to get rid of any kind of depression.

Where to go for help

If you do not where to go for help, ask your family physician, obstetrician, gynecologist or the clinic. In an emergency situation, the emergency doctor can provide temporary help for patients with emotional problems and give them an advice where and how they can ask for the further help.

Here is the list of people and organizations that can diagnose and suggest a course of treatment, or can give a direction to the examination and treatment.

  • Family doctors.
  • Such specialists as psychiatrists, psychologists, social workers and consultants on mental health.
  • Health maintenance organizations.
  • Local centers for the treatment of mental illness.
  • The Department of Psychiatry in hospitals and outpatient clinics.
  • Programs at universities and medical schools.
  • Family assistance services and social services departments.
  • Private clinics and institutions.
  • Care centers in the workplace.
  • Local health and (or) mental health communities.

It is very important in depressive episode treatment to understand that this is depression of a certain person, do not make attempts to excessive generalization of symptoms and factors of disease development. It requires personal approach to each patient.

So, as you can see, depression is a serious disease that requires professional treatment. If you manage to recognize the signs of depression at its early stage and ask for professional help, you can successfully overcome this problem. I hope this essay about depression was useful for you, and you got what you were looking for.

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  • Depression (major depressive disorder)
  • What is depression? A Mayo Clinic expert explains.

Learn more about depression from Craig Sawchuk, Ph.D., L.P., clinical psychologist at Mayo Clinic.

Hi, I'm Dr. Craig Sawchuk, a clinical psychologist at Mayo Clinic. And I'm here to talk with you about depression. Whether you're looking for answers for yourself, a friend, or loved one, understanding the basics of depression can help you take the next step.

Depression is a mood disorder that causes feelings of sadness that won't go away. Unfortunately, there's a lot of stigma around depression. Depression isn't a weakness or a character flaw. It's not about being in a bad mood, and people who experience depression can't just snap out of it. Depression is a common, serious, and treatable condition. If you're experiencing depression, you're not alone. It honestly affects people of all ages and races and biological sexes, income levels and educational backgrounds. Approximately one in six people will experience a major depressive episode at some point in their lifetime, while up to 16 million adults each year suffer from clinical depression. There are many types of symptoms that make up depression. Emotionally, you may feel sad or down or irritable or even apathetic. Physically, the body really slows down. You feel tired. Your sleep is often disrupted. It's really hard to get yourself motivated. Your thinking also changes. It can just be hard to concentrate. Your thoughts tend to be much more negative. You can be really hard on yourself, feel hopeless and helpless about things. And even in some cases, have thoughts of not wanting to live. Behaviorally, you just want to pull back and withdraw from others, activities, and day-to-day responsibilities. These symptoms all work together to keep you trapped in a cycle of depression. Symptoms of depression are different for everyone. Some symptoms may be a sign of another disorder or medical condition. That's why it's important to get an accurate diagnosis.

While there's no single cause of depression, most experts believe there's a combination of biological, social, and psychological factors that contribute to depression risk. Biologically, we think about genetics or a family history of depression, health conditions such as diabetes, heart disease or thyroid disorders, and even hormonal changes that happen over the lifespan, such as pregnancy and menopause. Changes in brain chemistry, especially disruptions in neurotransmitters like serotonin, that play an important role in regulating many bodily functions, including mood, sleep, and appetite, are thought to play a particularly important role in depression. Socially stressful and traumatic life events, limited access to resources such as food, housing, and health care, and a lack of social support all contribute to depression risk. Psychologically, we think of how negative thoughts and problematic coping behaviors, such as avoidance and substance use, increase our vulnerability to depression.

The good news is that treatment helps. Effective treatments for depression exist and you do have options to see what works best for you. Lifestyle changes that improve sleep habits, exercise, and address underlying health conditions can be an important first step. Medications such as antidepressants can be helpful in alleviating depressive symptoms. Therapy, especially cognitive behavioral therapy, teaches skills to better manage negative thoughts and improve coping behaviors to help break you out of cycles of depression. Whatever the cause, remember that depression is not your fault and it can be treated.

To help diagnose depression, your health care provider may use a physical exam, lab tests, or a mental health evaluation. These results will help identify various treatment options that best fit your situation.

Help is available. You don't have to deal with depression by yourself. Take the next step and reach out. If you're hesitant to talk to a health care provider, talk to a friend or loved one about how to get help. Living with depression isn't easy and you're not alone in your struggles. Always remember that effective treatments and supports are available to help you start feeling better. Want to learn more about depression? Visit Do take care.

Depression is a mood disorder that causes a persistent feeling of sadness and loss of interest. Also called major depressive disorder or clinical depression, it affects how you feel, think and behave and can lead to a variety of emotional and physical problems. You may have trouble doing normal day-to-day activities, and sometimes you may feel as if life isn't worth living.

More than just a bout of the blues, depression isn't a weakness and you can't simply "snap out" of it. Depression may require long-term treatment. But don't get discouraged. Most people with depression feel better with medication, psychotherapy or both.

Depression care at Mayo Clinic

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Although depression may occur only once during your life, people typically have multiple episodes. During these episodes, symptoms occur most of the day, nearly every day and may include:

  • Feelings of sadness, tearfulness, emptiness or hopelessness
  • Angry outbursts, irritability or frustration, even over small matters
  • Loss of interest or pleasure in most or all normal activities, such as sex, hobbies or sports
  • Sleep disturbances, including insomnia or sleeping too much
  • Tiredness and lack of energy, so even small tasks take extra effort
  • Reduced appetite and weight loss or increased cravings for food and weight gain
  • Anxiety, agitation or restlessness
  • Slowed thinking, speaking or body movements
  • Feelings of worthlessness or guilt, fixating on past failures or self-blame
  • Trouble thinking, concentrating, making decisions and remembering things
  • Frequent or recurrent thoughts of death, suicidal thoughts, suicide attempts or suicide
  • Unexplained physical problems, such as back pain or headaches

For many people with depression, symptoms usually are severe enough to cause noticeable problems in day-to-day activities, such as work, school, social activities or relationships with others. Some people may feel generally miserable or unhappy without really knowing why.

Depression symptoms in children and teens

Common signs and symptoms of depression in children and teenagers are similar to those of adults, but there can be some differences.

  • In younger children, symptoms of depression may include sadness, irritability, clinginess, worry, aches and pains, refusing to go to school, or being underweight.
  • In teens, symptoms may include sadness, irritability, feeling negative and worthless, anger, poor performance or poor attendance at school, feeling misunderstood and extremely sensitive, using recreational drugs or alcohol, eating or sleeping too much, self-harm, loss of interest in normal activities, and avoidance of social interaction.

Depression symptoms in older adults

Depression is not a normal part of growing older, and it should never be taken lightly. Unfortunately, depression often goes undiagnosed and untreated in older adults, and they may feel reluctant to seek help. Symptoms of depression may be different or less obvious in older adults, such as:

  • Memory difficulties or personality changes
  • Physical aches or pain
  • Fatigue, loss of appetite, sleep problems or loss of interest in sex — not caused by a medical condition or medication
  • Often wanting to stay at home, rather than going out to socialize or doing new things
  • Suicidal thinking or feelings, especially in older men

When to see a doctor

If you feel depressed, make an appointment to see your doctor or mental health professional as soon as you can. If you're reluctant to seek treatment, talk to a friend or loved one, any health care professional, a faith leader, or someone else you trust.

When to get emergency help

If you think you may hurt yourself or attempt suicide, call 911 in the U.S. or your local emergency number immediately.

Also consider these options if you're having suicidal thoughts:

  • Call your doctor or mental health professional.
  • Contact a suicide hotline.
  • In the U.S., call or text 988 to reach the 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline, available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Or use the Lifeline Chat . Services are free and confidential.
  • U.S. veterans or service members who are in crisis can call 988 and then press “1” for the Veterans Crisis Line . Or text 838255. Or chat online .
  • The Suicide & Crisis Lifeline in the U.S. has a Spanish language phone line at 1-888-628-9454 (toll-free).
  • Reach out to a close friend or loved one.
  • Contact a minister, spiritual leader or someone else in your faith community.

If you have a loved one who is in danger of suicide or has made a suicide attempt, make sure someone stays with that person. Call 911 or your local emergency number immediately. Or, if you think you can do so safely, take the person to the nearest hospital emergency room.

More Information

Depression (major depressive disorder) care at Mayo Clinic

  • Male depression: Understanding the issues
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  • Pain and depression: Is there a link?

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It's not known exactly what causes depression. As with many mental disorders, a variety of factors may be involved, such as:

  • Biological differences. People with depression appear to have physical changes in their brains. The significance of these changes is still uncertain, but may eventually help pinpoint causes.
  • Brain chemistry. Neurotransmitters are naturally occurring brain chemicals that likely play a role in depression. Recent research indicates that changes in the function and effect of these neurotransmitters and how they interact with neurocircuits involved in maintaining mood stability may play a significant role in depression and its treatment.
  • Hormones. Changes in the body's balance of hormones may be involved in causing or triggering depression. Hormone changes can result with pregnancy and during the weeks or months after delivery (postpartum) and from thyroid problems, menopause or a number of other conditions.
  • Inherited traits. Depression is more common in people whose blood relatives also have this condition. Researchers are trying to find genes that may be involved in causing depression.
  • Marijuana and depression
  • Vitamin B-12 and depression

Risk factors

Depression often begins in the teens, 20s or 30s, but it can happen at any age. More women than men are diagnosed with depression, but this may be due in part because women are more likely to seek treatment.

Factors that seem to increase the risk of developing or triggering depression include:

  • Certain personality traits, such as low self-esteem and being too dependent, self-critical or pessimistic
  • Traumatic or stressful events, such as physical or sexual abuse, the death or loss of a loved one, a difficult relationship, or financial problems
  • Blood relatives with a history of depression, bipolar disorder, alcoholism or suicide
  • Being lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender, or having variations in the development of genital organs that aren't clearly male or female (intersex) in an unsupportive situation
  • History of other mental health disorders, such as anxiety disorder, eating disorders or post-traumatic stress disorder
  • Abuse of alcohol or recreational drugs
  • Serious or chronic illness, including cancer, stroke, chronic pain or heart disease
  • Certain medications, such as some high blood pressure medications or sleeping pills (talk to your doctor before stopping any medication)


Depression is a serious disorder that can take a terrible toll on you and your family. Depression often gets worse if it isn't treated, resulting in emotional, behavioral and health problems that affect every area of your life.

Examples of complications associated with depression include:

  • Excess weight or obesity, which can lead to heart disease and diabetes
  • Pain or physical illness
  • Alcohol or drug misuse
  • Anxiety, panic disorder or social phobia
  • Family conflicts, relationship difficulties, and work or school problems
  • Social isolation
  • Suicidal feelings, suicide attempts or suicide
  • Self-mutilation, such as cutting
  • Premature death from medical conditions
  • Depression and anxiety: Can I have both?

There's no sure way to prevent depression. However, these strategies may help.

  • Take steps to control stress, to increase your resilience and boost your self-esteem.
  • Reach out to family and friends, especially in times of crisis, to help you weather rough spells.
  • Get treatment at the earliest sign of a problem to help prevent depression from worsening.
  • Consider getting long-term maintenance treatment to help prevent a relapse of symptoms.
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  • Hirsch M, et al. Monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs) for treating depressed adults. Accessed Jan. 24, 2017.
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Essays About Depression: Top 8 Examples Plus Prompts

Many people deal with mental health issues throughout their lives; if you are writing essays about depression, you can read essay examples to get started.

An occasional feeling of sadness is something that everyone experiences from time to time. Still, a persistent loss of interest, depressed mood, changes in energy levels, and sleeping problems can indicate mental illness. Thankfully, antidepressant medications, therapy, and other types of treatment can be largely helpful for people living with depression.

People suffering from depression or other mood disorders must work closely with a mental health professional to get the support they need to recover. While family members and other loved ones can help move forward after a depressive episode, it’s also important that people who have suffered from major depressive disorder work with a medical professional to get treatment for both the mental and physical problems that can accompany depression.

If you are writing an essay about depression, here are 8 essay examples to help you write an insightful essay. For help with your essays, check out our round-up of the best essay checkers .

  • 1. My Best Friend Saved Me When I Attempted Suicide, But I Didn’t Save Her by Drusilla Moorhouse
  • 2. How can I complain? by James Blake
  • 3. What it’s like living with depression: A personal essay by Nadine Dirks
  • 4. I Have Depression, and I’m Proof that You Never Know the Battle Someone is Waging Inside by Jac Gochoco
  • 5. Essay: How I Survived Depression by Cameron Stout
  • 6. I Can’t Get Out of My Sweat Pants: An Essay on Depression by Marisa McPeck-Stringham
  • 7. This is what depression feels like by Courtenay Harris Bond

8. Opening Up About My Struggle with Recurring Depression by Nora Super

1. what is depression, 2. how is depression diagnosed, 3. causes of depression, 4. different types of depression, 5. who is at risk of depression, 6. can social media cause depression, 7. can anyone experience depression, the final word on essays about depression, is depression common, what are the most effective treatments for depression, top 8 examples, 1.  my best friend saved me when i attempted suicide, but i didn’t save her  by drusilla moorhouse.

“Just three months earlier, I had been a patient in another medical facility: a mental hospital. My best friend, Denise, had killed herself on Christmas, and days after the funeral, I told my mom that I wanted to die. I couldn’t forgive myself for the role I’d played in Denise’s death: Not only did I fail to save her, but I’m fairly certain I gave her the idea.”

Moorhouse makes painstaking personal confessions throughout this essay on depression, taking the reader along on the roller coaster of ups and downs that come with suicide attempts, dealing with the death of a loved one, and the difficulty of making it through major depressive disorder.

2.  How can I complain?  by James Blake

“I wanted people to know how I felt, but I didn’t have the vocabulary to tell them. I have gone into a bit of detail here not to make anyone feel sorry for me but to show how a privileged, relatively rich-and-famous-enough-for-zero-pity white man could become depressed against all societal expectations and allowances. If I can be writing this, clearly it isn’t only oppression that causes depression; for me it was largely repression.”

Musician James Blake shares his experience with depression and talks about his struggles with trying to grow up while dealing with existential crises just as he began to hit the peak of his fame. Blake talks about how he experienced guilt and shame around the idea that he had it all on the outside—and so many people deal with issues that he felt were larger than his.

3.  What it’s like living with depression: A personal essay   by Nadine Dirks

“In my early adulthood, I started to feel withdrawn, down, unmotivated, and constantly sad. What initially seemed like an off-day turned into weeks of painful feelings that seemed they would never let up. It was difficult to enjoy life with other people my age. Depression made typical, everyday tasks—like brushing my teeth—seem monumental. It felt like an invisible chain, keeping me in bed.”

Dirks shares her experience with depression and the struggle she faced to find treatment for mental health issues as a Black woman. Dirks discusses how even though she knew something about her mental health wasn’t quite right, she still struggled to get the diagnosis she needed to move forward and receive proper medical and psychological care.

4.  I Have Depression, and I’m Proof that You Never Know the Battle Someone is Waging Inside  by Jac Gochoco

“A few years later, at the age of 20, my smile had fallen, and I had given up. The thought of waking up the next morning was too much for me to handle. I was no longer anxious or sad; instead, I felt numb, and that’s when things took a turn for the worse. I called my dad, who lived across the country, and for the first time in my life, I told him everything. It was too late, though. I was not calling for help. I was calling to say goodbye.”

Gochoco describes the war that so many people with depression go through—trying to put on a brave face and a positive public persona while battling demons on the inside. The Olympic weightlifting coach and yoga instructor now work to share the importance of mental health with others.

5.  Essay: How I Survived Depression   by Cameron Stout

“In 1993, I saw a psychiatrist who prescribed an antidepressant. Within two months, the medication slowly gained traction. As the gray sludge of sadness and apathy washed away, I emerged from a spiral of impending tragedy. I helped raise two wonderful children, built a successful securities-litigation practice, and became an accomplished cyclist. I began to take my mental wellness for granted. “

Princeton alum Cameron Stout shared his experience with depression with his fellow Tigers in Princeton’s alumni magazine, proving that even the most brilliant and successful among us can be rendered powerless by a chemical imbalance. Stout shares his experience with treatment and how working with mental health professionals helped him to come out on the other side of depression.

6.  I Can’t Get Out of My Sweat Pants: An Essay on Depression  by Marisa McPeck-Stringham

“Sometimes, when the depression got really bad in junior high, I would come straight home from school and change into my pajamas. My dad caught on, and he said something to me at dinner time about being in my pajamas several days in a row way before bedtime. I learned it was better not to change into my pajamas until bedtime. People who are depressed like to hide their problematic behaviors because they are so ashamed of the way they feel. I was very ashamed and yet I didn’t have the words or life experience to voice what I was going through.”

McPeck-Stringham discusses her experience with depression and an eating disorder at a young age; both brought on by struggles to adjust to major life changes. The author experienced depression again in her adult life, and thankfully, she was able to fight through the illness using tried-and-true methods until she regained her mental health.

7.  This is what depression feels like  by Courtenay Harris Bond

“The smallest tasks seem insurmountable: paying a cell phone bill, lining up a household repair. Sometimes just taking a shower or arranging a play date feels like more than I can manage. My children’s squabbles make me want to scratch the walls. I want to claw out of my own skin. I feel like the light at the end of the tunnel is a solitary candle about to blow out at any moment. At the same time, I feel like the pain will never end.”

Bond does an excellent job of helping readers understand just how difficult depression can be, even for people who have never been through the difficulty of mental illness. Bond states that no matter what people believe the cause to be—chemical imbalance, childhood issues, a combination of the two—depression can make it nearly impossible to function.

“Once again, I spiraled downward. I couldn’t get out of bed. I couldn’t work. I had thoughts of harming myself. This time, my husband urged me to start ECT much sooner in the cycle, and once again, it worked. Within a matter of weeks I was back at work, pretending nothing had happened. I kept pushing myself harder to show everyone that I was “normal.” I thought I had a pattern: I would function at a high level for many years, and then my depression would be triggered by a significant event. I thought I’d be healthy for another ten years.”

Super shares her experience with electroconvulsive therapy and how her depression recurred with a major life event despite several years of solid mental health. Thankfully, Super was able to recognize her symptoms and get help sooner rather than later.

7 Writing Prompts on Essays About Depression

When writing essays on depression, it can be challenging to think of essay ideas and questions. Here are six essay topics about depression that you can use in your essay.

What is Depression?

Depression can be difficult to define and understand. Discuss the definition of depression, and delve into the signs, symptoms, and possible causes of this mental illness. Depression can result from trauma or personal circumstances, but it can also be a health condition due to genetics. In your essay, look at how depression can be spotted and how it can affect your day-to-day life. 

Depression diagnosis can be complicated; this essay topic will be interesting as you can look at the different aspects considered in a diagnosis. While a certain lab test can be conducted, depression can also be diagnosed by a psychiatrist. Research the different ways depression can be diagnosed and discuss the benefits of receiving a diagnosis in this essay.

There are many possible causes of depression; this essay discusses how depression can occur. Possible causes of depression can include trauma, grief, anxiety disorders, and some physical health conditions. Look at each cause and discuss how they can manifest as depression.

Different types of depression

There are many different types of depression. This essay topic will investigate each type of depression and its symptoms and causes. Depression symptoms can vary in severity, depending on what is causing it. For example, depression can be linked to medical conditions such as bipolar disorder. This is a different type of depression than depression caused by grief. Discuss the details of the different types of depression and draw comparisons and similarities between them.

Certain genetic traits, socio-economic circumstances, or age can make people more prone to experiencing symptoms of depression. Depression is becoming more and more common amongst young adults and teenagers. Discuss the different groups at risk of experiencing depression and how their circumstances contribute to this risk.

Social media poses many challenges to today’s youth, such as unrealistic beauty standards, cyber-bullying, and only seeing the “highlights” of someone’s life. Can social media cause depression in teens? Delve into the negative impacts of social media when writing this essay. You could compare the positive and negative sides of social media and discuss whether social media causes mental health issues amongst young adults and teenagers.

This essay question poses the question, “can anyone experience depression?” Although those in lower-income households may be prone to experiencing depression, can the rich and famous also experience depression? This essay discusses whether the privileged and wealthy can experience their possible causes. This is a great argumentative essay topic, discuss both sides of this question and draw a conclusion with your final thoughts.

When writing about depression, it is important to study examples of essays to make a compelling essay. You can also use your own research by conducting interviews or pulling information from other sources. As this is a sensitive topic, it is important to approach it with care; you can also write about your own experiences with mental health issues.

Tip: If writing an essay sounds like a lot of work, simplify it. Write a simple 5 paragraph essay instead.

FAQs On Essays About Depression

According to the World Health Organization, about 5% of people under 60 live with depression. The rate is slightly higher—around 6%—for people over 60. Depression can strike at any age, and it’s important that people who are experiencing symptoms of depression receive treatment, no matter their age. 

Suppose you’re living with depression or are experiencing some of the symptoms of depression. In that case, it’s important to work closely with your doctor or another healthcare professional to develop a treatment plan that works for you. A combination of antidepressant medication and cognitive behavioral therapy is a good fit for many people, but this isn’t necessarily the case for everyone who suffers from depression. Be sure to check in with your doctor regularly to ensure that you’re making progress toward improving your mental health.

If you’re still stuck, check out our general resource of essay writing topics .

essay about causes of depression

Amanda has an M.S.Ed degree from the University of Pennsylvania in School and Mental Health Counseling and is a National Academy of Sports Medicine Certified Personal Trainer. She has experience writing magazine articles, newspaper articles, SEO-friendly web copy, and blog posts.

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The Biology of Depression

Reviewed by Psychology Today Staff

Depression makes deep inroads on biology to bring about the many symptoms of depression, from sleep disruption and an inability to experience pleasure to lack of motivation and feelings of guilt. Many factors influence how a person reacts to stressful events, whether an individual gets depressed, and how the disorder manifests. These include genetic inheritance, life experience, temperament, personality traits, social supports, and beliefs.

Still, exactly how biological changes give rise to depressive symptoms is not well understood. Because of its complexity—and because the disorder contributes so much to human suffering—the biology of depression is a major subject of ongoing research.

On This Page

  • What is the role of genetics in depression?
  • Can genes for depression be modified?
  • What happens in the brain with depression?
  • How does lack of sleep alter brain function?
  • How does the brain regulate mood?
  • What role does serotonin play in depression?
  • Does dopamine play a role in depression?
  • How does nerve cell communication go awry in depression?
  • How does stress affect the brain
  • How does childhood stress affect adult brain function?
  • What areas of the brain play a role in depression?
  • What does brain imaging look at in depression?
  • How does depresson itself change the brain?
  • Can talk therapy change the way the brain functions?
  • Why is nerve cell growth, or neuroplasticity, important?
  • What are ways of stimulating neuroplasticity?


The inheritance of risk for depression is considered, at best, polygenetic—that is, a number of unknown genes each contributes a tiny risk under certain environmental conditions. None of them makes depression inevitable. The baseline risk of depression in the population is 10 percent; having a first-degree relative (parent or sibling) with depression doubles or triples an individual’s risk, to 20 to 30 percent over the course of a lifetime.

There are many non-genetic factors that contribute to risk of onset of major depression, and there are some inherited factors as well. To make matters a bit more complex, some non-genetic factors, including certain kinds of adverse childhood experience—such as repeated child abuse or neglect—can have a lasting impact on the function of genes (such as those that activate the stress system) to increase the risk of depression later on.

Variation of one gene associated with the serotonin system ( the serotonin transporter gene ) has been most linked to depression susceptibility—it is thought to moderate the impact of stressful life events—but the evidence has been disappointing. Life experience and lifestyle factors are believed to play more significant roles in depression risk.

Scientists know that the expression and function of many genes can be altered without doing the near-impossible—making any changes to the gene structure itself. Such changes are known as epigenetic modifications. Some life experiences can create vulnerability to depression through epigenetic changes. For example, in rat pups, lack of maternal care can permanently reset the sensitivity of receptors to stress hormones. If their mothers fail to lick and groom them, they grow up to display an exaggerated response to stress hormones and develop depression-like behavior in response to stress.

But there are also ways to strategically induce epigenetic changes to reverse symptoms of depression. For example, the nutritional supplement SAM-e , a synthetic version of a compound found in the body, contains a substance that chemically augments the activation and deactivation of genes. Some studies show it is effective against symptoms of depression.

Overexcitability of the stress response system, shifts in activity of various neurochemicals in the brain, diminished efficiency of nerve circuitry and nerve generation, disturbances in energy use nerve cells, the intrusion of inflammatory substances in the brain, upsets in the brain’s 24-hour (circadian) clock—all play a role in depression onset or progression and influence the kind and severity of symptoms.

Two major areas of the brain—the hippocampus (seat of memory) and the cortex (the thinking part of the brain)— undergo shrinkage . Both the size of nerve cells and the number of their connections with other neurons are reduced. At the same time, depressive behavior is linked to overactivation of the hypothalamus, which coordinates the stress response, and overactivity of the amygdala, which signals threat and generates negative emotions.

Reduced activity in the prefrontal cortex, which interprets and regulates emotional signals coming from the amygdala, accounts for the difficulties in decision-making and the cognitive fog that depressed people experience.

The human brain may be unique in its ability to generate new nerve connections, called neuroplasticity ; this is what underlies all adaptation and learning. In depression, neuroplasticity is impaired, especially in the hippocampus. In addition, reward centers of the brain shrink and fail to activate in response to stimulation. There are changes in sensitivity to the hormones that regulate feeding behavior, resulting in changes in appetite.

Disruption of the sleep-wake cycle is one of the hallmarks of depression and is a major source the mood disturbance in major depression. Lack of sleep upsets the body’s circadian clock that orchestrates the natural daily rhythm of most biological functions, including patterns of secretion, release, and activity of many neurochemicals in the brain.

Sleep deprivation is thought to impede the transmission of neural signals. One result is that sleep deprivation makes people emotionally reactive , increasing activity in the amygdala and decreasing it in the emotion regulation center of the prefrontal cortex. Sleep deprivation impairs the brain’s ability to control negative thoughts.

Mistimed light input resulting from sleep disturbance also disrupts the dopamine-sensitive nucleus accumbens. Studies show that people with mood disorders benefit from maintaining a strict sleep/wake routine, rising in the morning and going to sleep at night at the same time every day.

Emotions are fleeting responses to stimuli; mood is a more sustained state of emotion. Like emotions, mood probably originates with activity of the amygdala, where emotions are coded. But it also involves the prefrontal cortex, which, through bundles of two-way circuitry with the amygdala, helps regulate emotional response and influences the general state of reactivity of the amygdala.

Under normal conditions, moods are relatively stable. But the persistence of negative mood in major depression suggests something is amiss in the nerve pathways between the amygdala and cortex.

Another important influence on mood is the circadian rhythm that governs the timing of much physiological activity, most prominently the sleep-wake cycle . Disturbances in biological rhythms are known to disrupt mood, and studies of depressed patients find that they exhibit abnormal patterns of many body functions, from temperature regulation to hormone secretion.

The neurotransmitter serotonin is one of many signaling chemicals in the brain associated with depressive symptoms. Under normal conditions, serotonin inhibits pain, influences the processing of various emotions, and mediates many mental capacities important in social life .

But like the other neurotransmitters involved in depression, its production and activity are affected by the hormones the body secretes in response to threat or stress, such as cortisol. One result is a functional lack of serotonin, which, among other things, disrupts the circuitry that regulates moral emotions. Growing evidence suggest that is why those who are depressed are haunted by excessive self-blame and a sense of guilt.

The neurotransmitter dopamine, which mediates motivation and desire, is one of several brain signaling chemicals that are implicated in depression . It is associated with two of the most prominent features of depression—anhedonia, or the inability to experience pleasure, and appetite alterations.

Many neurons that use dopamine to relay signals are sensitive to the effects of stress, which can alter their excitability and activity. Studies have also shown that reward-generating areas of the brain—such as the nucleus accumbens, where dopamine signals originate—may be underactive in depression.

Where once researchers and clinicians focused on the role of neurotransmitters such as serotonin in depression, they now know that neurotransmitters are only one part of a much larger story of how nerve cells function in circuits to relay messages from one part of the brain to another. In fact, many experts see depression as a nerve circuit disorder, marked by a power failure in the brain’s wiring, affecting communication between one area of the brain and another.

The nerve cell connections between the amygdala and the prefrontal cortex (PFC) are sometimes called the “depression circuit;” depression results when emotion-laden signals from the amygdala overpower the ability of the PFC to regulate the signals. The prolonged or excessive release of stress hormones can lead to a failure of activation of key nodes in neural networks or impair the strength of signals between them, especially when processing emotion-related or reward stimuli.

It’s important that depression is now seen as a nerve circuit disorder, because that influences the search for effective treatments.

Stress can be beneficial to the brain, depending on how intense and long-lasting the stressor is. In brief bursts, stress fosters alertness, learning, and adaptation. Severe or prolonged stress, however, can disrupt many aspects of brain function and lead to depression .

Such stress dysregulates the normal stress response through the overproduction of cortisol. Cortisol is especially toxic to cells in the brain’s hippocampus, and one consequence of uncontrolled stress is shrinkage of the hippocampus, manifest in the impaired memory and learning that are characteristic of depression.

Cortisol also turns off the generation of new nerve cells in some areas of the brain, affecting the circuitry of the brain. In addition, prolonged cortisol exposure affects production of the insulating myelin sheath surrounding nerve cells, diminishing the overall efficiency or nerve signaling.

Severe or sustained early life adversity shifts the course of brain development and can lastingly impair emotion regulation and cognitive development. Excessive or prolonged activation of the stress response in childhood, studies show, can sensitize the stress response system so that it overresponds to minimal levels of threat, making people feel easily overwhelmed by life’s normal difficulties.

Severe or prolonged childhood adversity can affect the function of genes important for the wiring of the brain, so that emotional control is difficult—overproducing neural connections in regions such as the amygdala that signal threat and other negative emotions while underendowing neural connectivity in brain areas responsible for behavioral control, reasoning, and planning.

Nevertheless, adult brains retain the capacity for neuroplasticity. Although it takes effort, and often the guidance of psychotherapy, people can learn to overcome many of the ill effects of early adversity.

Many areas of the brain contribute to the symptoms of depression, such as the hippocampus, which is the seat of memory and learning, and the superchiasmatic nucleus, which is the “body clock” that paces all physiologic activity, notably the sleep-wake cycle. But brain imaging studies suggest that there is a primary “depression circuit,” consisting of the amygdala, which flags emotion-related stimuli; the prefrontal cortex, which analyzes and interprets experience, modulates emotional reactivity, and controls attention; and the two-way network of nerve fibers that connect them.

In this model of depression, the amygdala becomes hyperactive, sending out a constant flood of emotions, and the PFC becomes hypoactive, unable to regulate the stream of emotional input. Through feedback loops, the failure of the PFC further dysregulates the amygdala and leaves unchecked its inherent bias toward negative emotions.

Some types of brain imaging, such as CT scans and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), take static pictures of the brain to determine whether any specific structures are larger or smaller than normal in depressed patients. Positron emission tomography (PET) scans and functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) look at the brain in action, to see whether and where there are problems in the way the brain processes specific types of information .

In fMRI studies, normal controls and depressed patents are typically given some task to perform in the scanner. For example, subjects may be asked to look at a series of pictures, some of them with emotionally disturbing content, to see how the brain handles negative stimuli. The brain scanners measure blood flow or metabolic activity, based on the concentration of agents earlier injected into the bloodstream. Comparison of hot spots and dead spots of activity between controls and depressed patients highlight areas of the brain that malfunction in response to challenging stimuli.

The longer an episode of depression lasts, the greater the likelihood of a recurrence of depression. That is because depression changes the brain in ways that are only now yielding to understanding. If left untreated, depression can become a progressive disease leading to neurodegeneration.

The sustained stress that triggers depression releases a cascade of hormones linked to shrinkage of the hippocampus, a part of the brain essential for learning and storing and retrieving memories. Prominent changes to other brain areas, including the amygdala, create a sustained tendency to generate negatively coded emotions.

Untreated depression also changes the activity of substances that help regulate the mitochondria, the energy factories of all cells, especially critical to function of the brain because it is such a metabolically active organ. Depression also causes changes in the network of brain areas involved in processing physical pain , and the degree of hyperactivity in such areas as seen on brain scans correlates with the severity of depression that patients experience.

Recent studies show that like other neurodegenerative conditions, longstanding depression increases levels of inflammatory substances in the brain that further impair its function , affecting many brain regions and circuits of connectivity.

The most studied form of psychotherapy—cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT)—has been shown to produces long-lasting changes in emotion, cognition, behavior, and somatic symptoms of patients with depression and other mental health conditions. Using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), researchers find that CBT alters patterns of connections between brain regions, notably in circuits related to the processing of emotions.

Images show decreased reactivity of the brain’s amygdala, which processes emotion, and increased activity in the prefrontal cortex, the thinking and executive control center of the brain, indicating more control over emotional reactions and memories, and greater flexibility in finding solutions to problems . The changes in cognition power help reduce negative emotionality by increasing people’s ability to calmly manage experiences and thoughts that stir emotions.

Throughout life, the growth of new nerve cell connections, or neuroplasticity, is the major way brains adapt to new or challenging circumstances. It’s called learning, and it’s the brain’s major means of problem-solving. Depression is characterized by a loss of plasticity—negative neuroplasticity; patients feel imprisoned in their own repetitive negative thoughts.

It’s long been known that prolonged or excessive outpouring of stress hormones curbs the growth of nerve cells, particularly in the hippocampus, seat of memory and learning.Such changes are reflected in a smaller size hippocampus and impaired memory in depressed patients.

Changes also occur in the prefrontal cortex, undermining regulation of emotional experience, limiting the ability to set goals, and much more. All effective treatments of depression restore the capacity for mental and behavioral change and are known to stimulate the growth of new nerve cells —they enable the brain to rewire itself.

All known therapies for depression stimulate the growth of new nerve cell connections. But the growth of new nerve cell connections is not dependent on antidepressant drugs. Researchers find that there are many ways to bring about neuroplasticity.

One of the most effective ways is aerobic exercise. And it doesn’t have to be intense to have an effect. In fact, all physical activity is linked to the generation of neurotrophic factors, chemicals that stimulate the growth and recovery of brain cells.

Research also pinpoints diet, and especially i ntermittent fasting as a way to generate BDNF , or brain-derived neurotrophic factor, one of the best studied agents of nerve cell growth. Intermittent fasting is known to be neuroprotective, shielding brain cells from the degeneration that often accompanies aging.

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Evolution and Emerging Trends in Depression Research From 2004 to 2019: A Literature Visualization Analysis

1 School of Traditional Chinese Medicine, Beijing University of Chinese Medicine, Beijing, China

Xuemei Tian

2 School of Life Sciences, Beijing University of Chinese Medicine, Beijing, China

Xianrui Wang

Associated data.

The original contributions presented in the study are included in the article/supplementary material, further inquiries can be directed to the corresponding author/s.

Depression has become a major threat to human health, and researchers around the world are actively engaged in research on depression. In order to promote closer research, the study of the global depression knowledge map is significant. This study aims to map the knowledge map of depression research and show the current research distribution, hotspots, frontiers, and trends in the field of depression research, providing researchers with worthwhile information and ideas. Based on the Web of Science core collection of depression research from 2004 to 2019, this study systematically analyzed the country, journal, category, author, institution, cited article, and keyword aspects using bibliometric and data visualization methods. A relationship network of depression research was established, highlighting the highly influential countries, journals, categories, authors, institutions, cited articles, and keywords in this research field. The study identifies great research potential in the field of depression, provides scientific guidance for researchers to find potential collaborations through collaboration networks and coexistence networks, and systematically and accurately presents the hotspots, frontiers, and shortcomings of depression research through the knowledge map of global research on depression with the help of information analysis and fusion methods, which provides valuable information for researchers and institutions to determine meaningful research directions.


Health issues are becoming more and more important to people due to the continuous development of health care. The social pressures on people are becoming more and more pronounced in a social environment that is developing at an increasing rate. Prolonged exposure to stress can have a negative impact on brain development ( 1 ), and depression is one of the more typical disorders that accompany it. Stress will increase the incidence of depression ( 2 ), depression has become a common disease ( 3 ), endangering people's physical health. Depression is a debilitating mental illness with mood disorders, also known as major depression, clinical depression, or melancholia. In human studies of the disease, it has been found that depression accounts for a large proportion of the affected population. According to the latest data from the World Health Organization (WHO) statistics in 2019, there are more than 350 million people with depression worldwide, with an increase of about 18% in the last decade and an estimated lifetime prevalence of 15% ( 4 ), it is a major cause of global disability and disease burden ( 5 ), and depression has quietly become a disease that threatens hundreds of millions of people worldwide.

Along with the rise of science communication research, the quantification of science is also flourishing. As a combination of “data science” and modern science, bibliometrics takes advantage of the explosive growth of research output in the era of big data, and uses topics, authors, publications, keywords, references, citations, etc. as research targets to reveal the current status and impact of the discipline more accurately and scientifically. Whereas, there is not a wealth of bibliometric studies related to depression. Fusar-Poli et al. ( 6 ) used bibliometrics to systematically evaluate cross-diagnostic psychiatry. Hammarström et al. ( 7 ) used bibliometrics to analyze the scientific quality of gender-related explanatory models of depression in the medical database PubMed. Tran et al. ( 8 ) used the bibliometric analysis of research progress and effective interventions for depression in AIDS patients. Wang et al. ( 9 ) used bibliometric methods to analyze scientific studies on the comorbidity of pain and depression. Shi et al. ( 10 ) performed a bibliometric analysis of the top 100 cited articles on biomarkers in the field of depression. Dongping et al. ( 11 ) used bibliometric analysis of studies on the association between depression and gut flora. An Chunping et al. ( 12 ) analyzed the literature on acupuncture for depression included in PubMed based on bibliometrics. Yi and Xiaoli ( 13 ) used a bibliometric method to analyze the characteristics of the literature on the treatment of depression by Chinese medicine in the last 10 years. Zhou and Yan ( 14 ) used bibliometric method to analyze the distribution of scientific and technological achievements on depression in Peoples R China. Guaijuan ( 15 ) performed a bibliometric analysis of the interrelationship between psoriasis and depression. Econometric analysis of the relationship between vitamin D deficiency and depression was performed by Yunzhi et al. ( 16 ) and Shauni et al. ( 17 ) performed a bibliometric analysis of domestic and international research papers on depression-related genes from 2003 to 2007. A previous review of depression-related bibliometric studies revealed that there is no bibliometric analysis of global studies in the field of depression, including country network analysis, journal network analysis, category network analysis, author network analysis, institutional network analysis, literature co-citation analysis, keyword co-presentation analysis, and cluster analysis.

The aim of this study was to conduct a comprehensive and systematic literature-based data mining and metrics analysis of depression-related research. More specifically, this analysis focuses on cooperative network and co-presentation analysis, based on the 36,477 papers included in the Web of Science Core Collection database from 2004 to 2019, and provides an in-depth analysis of cooperative network, co-presentation network, and co-citation through modern metrics and data visualization methods. Through the mining of key data, the data correlation is further explored, and the results obtained can be used to scientifically and reasonably predict the depression-related information. This study aims to show the spatial and temporal distribution of research countries, journals, authors, and institutions in the field of depression in a more concise manner through a relational network. A deeper understanding of the internal structure of the research community will help researchers and institutions to establish more accurate and effective global collaborations, in line with the trend of human destiny and globalization. In addition, the study will allow for the timely identification of gaps in current research. A more targeted research direction will be established, a more complete picture of the new developments in the field of depression today will be obtained, and the research protocol will be informed for further adjustments. The results of these analyses will help researchers understand the evolution of this field of study. Overall, this paper uses literature data analysis to find research hotspots in the field of depression, analyze the knowledge structure within different studies, and provide a basis for predicting research frontiers. This study analyzed the literature in the field of depression using CiteSpace 5.8.R2 (64-bit) to analyze collaborative networks, including country network analysis, journal network analysis, category network analysis, researcher network analysis, and institutional network analysis using CiteSpace 5.8.R2 (64-bit). In addition, literature co-citation, keyword co-presentation, and cluster analysis of depression research hotspots were also performed. Thus, exploring the knowledge dimensions of the field, quantifying the research patterns in the field, and uncovering emerging trends in the field will help to obtain more accurate and complete information. The large amount of current research results related to depression will be presented more intuitively and accurately with the medium of information technology, and the scientific evaluation of research themes and trend prediction will be provided from a new perspective.

Data Sources

The data in this paper comes from the Web of Science (WoS) core collection. The time years were selected as 2004–2019. First, the literature was retrieved after entering “depression” using the title search method. A total of 73,829 articles, excluding “depression” as “suppression,” “decline,” “sunken,” “pothole,” “slump,” “low pressure,” “frustration.” The total number of articles with other meanings such as “depression” was 5,606, and the total number of valid articles related to depression was 68,223. Next, the title search method was used to search for studies related to “major depressive disorder” not “depression,” and a total of 8,070 articles were retrieved. For the two search strategies, a total of 76,293 records were collected. The relevant literature retrieved under the two methods were combined and exported in “plain text” file format. The exported records included: “full records and references cited.” CiteSpace processed the data to obtain 41,408 valid records, covering all depression-related research articles for the period 2004–2019, and used this as the basis for analysis.

Processing Tools

CiteSpace ( 18 ), developed by Chao-Mei Chen, a professor in the School of Information Science and Technology at Drexel University, is a Java-based program with powerful data visualization capabilities and is one of the most widely used knowledge mapping tools. The software version used in this study is CiteSpace 5.8.R2 (64-bit).

Methods of Analysis

This study uses bibliometrics and data visualization as analytical methods. First, the application of bibliometrics to the field of depression helped to identify established and emerging research clusters, demonstrating the value of research in this area. Second, data visualization provides multiple perspectives on the data, presenting correlations in a clearer “knowledge graph” that can reveal underestimated and overlooked trends, patterns, and differences ( 19 ). CiteSpace is mainly based on the “co-occurrence clustering idea,” which extracts the information units (keywords, authors, institutions, countries, journals, etc.) in the data by classification, and then further reconstructs the data in the information units to form networks based on different types and strengths of connections (e.g., keyword co-occurrence, author collaboration, etc.). The resulting networks include nodes and links, where the nodes represent the information units of the literature and the links represent the existence of connections (co-occurrence) between the nodes. Finally, the network is measured, statistically analyzed, and presented in a visual way. The analysis needs to focus on: the overall structure of the network, key nodes and paths. The key evaluation indicators in this study are: betweenness centrality, year, keyword frequency, and burst strength. Betweenness centrality (BC) is the number of times a node acts as the shortest bridge between two other nodes. The higher the number of times a node acts as an “intermediary,” the greater its betweenness centrality. Betweenness centrality is a measure of the importance of articles found and measured by nodes in the network by labeling the category (or authors, journals, institutions, etc.) with purple circles. There may be many shortest paths between two nodes in the network, and by counting all the shortest paths of any two nodes in the network, if many of the shortest paths pass through a node, then the node is considered to have high betweenness centrality. In CiteSpace, nodes with betweenness centrality over 0.1 are called critical nodes. Year, which represents the publication time of the article. Frequency, which represents the number of occurrences. Burst strength, an indicator used to measure articles with sudden rise or sudden decline in citations. Nodes with high burst strength usually represent a shift in a certain research area and need to be focused on, and the burst article points are indicated in red. The nodes and their sizes and colors are first analyzed initially, and further analyzed by betweenness centrality indicators for evaluation. Each node represents an article, and the larger the node, the greater the frequency of the keyword word and the greater the relevance to the topic. Similarly, the color of the node represents time: the warmer the color, the more recent the time; the colder the color, the older the era; the node with a purple outer ring is a node with high betweenness centrality; the color of each annual ring can determine the time distribution: the color of the annual ring represents the corresponding time, and the thickness of one annual ring is proportional to the number of articles within the corresponding time division; the dominant color can reflect the relative concentration of the emergence time; the node The appearance of red annual rings in the annual rings means hot spots, and the frequency of citations has been or is still increasing rapidly.

Large-Scale Assessment

Country analysis.

During the period 2004–2019, a total of 157 countries/territories have conducted research on depression, which is about 67.38% of 233 countries/territories worldwide. This shows that depression is receiving attention from many countries/regions around the world. Figure 1 shows the geographical distribution of published articles for 157 countries. The top 15 countries are ranked according to the number of articles published. Table 1 lists the top 15 countries with the highest number of publications in the field of depression worldwide from 2004 to 2019. These 15 countries include 4 Asian countries (Peoples R China, Japan, South Korea, Turkey), 2 North American countries (USA, Canada), 1 South American country (Brazil), 7 European countries (UK, Germany, Netherlands, Italy, France, Spain, Sweden), and 1 Oceania country (Australia).

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Geographical distributions of publications, 2004–2019.

The top 15 productive countries.

TP, total publications; TP R (%), the ratio of the amount of the publications in the country to the publications in the word during 2004–2019; BC, betweenness centrality; TPA (million), total publications in all areas; TPA R (%), the ratio of the amount of publications in depression to publications in all areas .

Overall, the main distribution of these articles is in USA and some European countries, such as UK, Germany, Netherlands, Italy, France, Spain, and Sweden. This means that these countries are more interested and focused on research on depression compared to others. The total number of publications across all research areas in the Web of Science core collection is similar to the distribution of depression research areas, with the trend toward USA, UK, and Peoples R China as leading countries being unmistakable, and USA has been a leader in the field of depression, with far more articles published than any other country. It can also be seen that USA is the country with the highest betweenness centrality in the network of national collaborations analyzed in this paper. USA research in the field of depression is closely linked to global research, and is an important part of the global collaborative network for depression research. As of 2019, the total number of articles published in depression performance research in USA represents 27.13% of the total number of articles published in depression worldwide, which is ~4 times more than the second-place country, UK, which is far ahead of other countries. Peoples R China, as the third most published country, has a dominant number of articles, but its betweenness centrality is 0.01, reflecting the fact that Peoples R China has less collaborative research with other countries, so Peoples R China should strengthen its foreign collaborative research and actively establish global scientific research partnerships to seek development and generate breakthroughs in cooperation. The average percentage of scientific research on depression in each country is about 0.19%, also highlighting the urgent need to address depression as one of the global human health problems. The four Asian countries included in the top 15 countries are Peoples R China, Japan, South Korea, and Turkey, with Peoples R China ranking third with 6.72% of the total number of all articles counted. The distribution may be explained by the fact that Peoples R China is the largest developing country with a rapid development rate as the largest. Along with the steady rise in the country's economic power, people are creating economic benefits and their health is becoming a consumable commodity. The lifetime prevalence and duration of depression varies by country and region ( 2 ), but the high prevalence and persistence of depression worldwide confirms the increasing severity of the disease worldwide. The WHO estimates that more than 300 million people, or 4.4% of the world's population, suffer from depression ( 20 ), with the number of people suffering from depression increasing at a patient rate of 18.4% between 2005 and 2015. Depression, one of the most prevalent mental illnesses of our time, has caused both physical and psychological harm to many people, and it has become the leading cause of disability worldwide today, and in this context, there is increased interest and focus on research into depression. It is expected that a more comprehensive understanding of depression and finding ways to prevent and cope with the occurrence of this disease can help people get rid of the pain and shadow brought by depression, obtain a healthy and comfortable physical and mental environment and physical health, and make Chinese contributions to the cause of human health. Undoubtedly, the occurrence of depressive illnesses in the context of irreversible human social development has stimulated a vigorous scientific research environment on depression in Peoples R China and other developing countries and contributed to the improvement of research capacity in these countries. Moreover, from a different perspective, the geographical distribution of articles in this field also represents the fundamental position of the country in the overall scientific and academic research field.

Growth Trend Analysis

Figure 2 depicts the distribution of 38,433 articles from the top 10 countries in terms of the number of publications and the trend of growth during 2004–2019.

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The distribution of publications in top 10 productive countries, 2004–2019. Source: author's calculation. National development classification criteria refer to “Human Development Report 2020” ( 21 ).

First, the number of articles published per year for the top 10 countries in terms of productivity was counted and then the white bar chart in Figure 2 was plotted, with the year as the horizontal coordinate and total publications as the vertical coordinate, showing the distribution of the productivity of articles in the field of depression per year. The total number of publications for the period 2004–2019 is 38,433. Based on the white bars and line graphs in Figure 2 , we can divide this time period into three growth periods. The number of publications in each growth period is calculated based on the number of publications per year. As can be seen from the figure, the period 2004–2019 can be divided into three main growth periods, namely 2004–2009, 2010–2012, and 2013–2019, the first growth period being from 2004 to 2009, the number of publications totaled 6,749, accounting for 23.97% of all publications; from 2010 to 2012, the number of publications totaled 8,236, accounting for 17.56% of all publications; and from 2013 to 2019, the number of publications totaled 22,473, accounting for 58.47% of all publications. Of these, 2006 was the first year of sharp growth with an annual growth rate of 19.97%, 2009 was the second year of sharp growth with an annual growth rate of 17.64%, and 2008 was the third year of sharp growth with an annual growth rate of 16.09%. In the last 5 years, 2019 has also shown a sharp growth trend with a growth rate of 14.34%. Notably, in 2010 and 2013, there was negative growth with the growth rate of −3.39 and −1.45%. In the last 10 years, depression research has become one of the most valuable areas of human research. It can also be noted that the number of publications in the field of depression in these 10 countries has been increasing year after year.

Second, the analysis is conducted from the perspective of national development, divided into developed and developing countries, as shown in the orange bar chart in Figure 2 , where the horizontal coordinate is year and the vertical coordinate is total publications, comparing the article productivity variability between developed and developing countries. The top 10 most productive countries in the field of depression globally include nine developed countries and one developing country, respectively. During the period 2004–2019, 34,631 papers were published in developed countries and 3,802 papers were published in developing countries, with developed countries accounting for 90.11% of the 38,433 articles and developing countries accounting for 9.89%, and the total number of publications in developed countries was about 9 times higher than that in developing countries. During the period 2004–2019, the number of publications in developed countries showed negative growth in 2 years (2010 and 2013) with growth rates of −3.39 and −1.45%, respectively. The rest of the years showed positive growth with growth rates of 1.52% (2005), 19.97 (2006), 8.11 (2007), 12.70 (2008), 17.64 (2009), 13.22 (2011), 10.17 (2012), 16.09 (2014), 10.46 (2015), 4.10 (2016), 1.59 (2017), 3.91 (2018), and 14.34 (2019), showing three periods of positive growth: 2004–2009, 2011–2012, and 2014–2019, with the highest growth rate of 19.97% in 2006. Recent years have also shown a higher growth trend, with a growth rate of 14.34% in 2019. It is worth noting that developing countries have been showing positive growth in the number of articles in the period 2004–2019, with annual growth rates of 81.25 (2005), 17.24 (2006), 35.29 (2007), 19.57 (2008), 65.45 (2009), 13.19 (2010), 29.13 (2011), 54.89 (2012), 12.14 (2013), 36.36 (2014), 14.92 (2015), 16.02 (2016), 10.24 (2017), 21.17 (2018), and 31.37 (2019), with the highest growth rate of 81.25% in 2005. In the field of depression research, developed countries are still the main force and occupy an important position.

Further, 10 countries with the highest productivity in the field of depression are compared, total publications in the vertical coordinate, and the colored scatter plot contains 10 colored dots, representing 10 different countries. On the one hand, the variability of the contributions of different countries in the same time frame can be compared horizontally. On the other hand, it is possible to compare vertically the variability of the growth of different countries over time. Among them, USA, with about 40.29% of the world's publications in the field of depression, has always been a leader in the field of depression with its rich research results. Peoples R China, as the only developing country, ranks 3rd in the top 10 countries with high production of research papers in the field of depression, and Peoples R China's research in the field of depression has shown a rapid growth trend, and by 2016, it has jumped to become the 2nd largest country in the world, with the number of published papers increasing year by year, which has a broad prospect and great potential for development.

Distribution of Periodicals

Table 2 lists the top 15 journals in order of number of journal co-citations. In the field of depression, the top 15 cited journals accounted for 19.06% of the total number of co-citations, nearly one in five of the total number of journal co-citations. In particular, the top 3 journals were ARCH GEN PSYCHIAT (ARCHIVES OF GENERAL PSYCHIATRY), J AFFECT DISORDERS (JOURNAL OF AFFECTIVE DISORDERS), and AM J PSYCHIAT (AMERICAN JOURNAL OF PSYCHIATRY), with co-citation counts of 20,499, 20,302, and 20,143, with co-citation rates of 2.09, 2.07, and 2.06%, respectively. The main research area of ARCH GEN PSYCHIAT is Psychiatry; the main research area of the journal J AFFECT DISORDERS is Neurosciences and Neurology, Psychiatry; AM J PSYCHIAT is the main research area of Psychiatry, and the three journals have “psychiatry” in common, making them the most frequently co-cited journals in the field of depression.

The top 15 co-cited journals.

TP, total publications; TP R (%), the ratio of the amount of the journal's publications to the total publications; BC, betweenness centrality .

Figure 3 shows the network relationship graph of the cited journals from 2004 to 2019. The figure takes g-index as the selection criteria, the scale factor k = 25 to include more nodes. Each node of the graph represents each journal, the node size represents the number of citation frequencies, the label size represents the size of the betweenness centrality of the journal in the network, and the links between journals represent the co-citation relationships. The journal co-citation map reflects the structure of the journals, indicating that there are links between journals and that the journals include similar research topics. These journals included research topics related to neuroscience, psychiatry, neurology, and psychology. The journal with betweenness centrality size in the top 1 was ARCH GEN PSYCHIAT, with betweenness centrality size of 0.07, and impact shadows of 14.48. ARCH GEN PSYCHIAT, has research themes of Psychiatry. In all, these journals in Figure 3 occupy an important position in the journal's co-citation network and have strong links with other journals.

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Prominent journals involved in depression. The betweenness centrality of a node in the network measures the importance of the position of the node in the network. Two types of nodes may have high betweenness centrality scores: (1) Nodes that are highly connected to other nodes, (2) Nodes are positioned between different groups of nodes. The lines represent the link between two different nodes.

Distribution of Categories

Table 3 lists the 15 most popular categories in the field of depression research during the period 2004–2019. In general, the main disciplines involved are neuroscience, psychology, pharmacy, medicine, and health care, which are closely related to human life and health issues. Of these, psychiatry accounted for 20.78%, or about one-five, making it the most researched category. The study of depression focuses on neuroscience, reflecting the essential characteristics of depression as a category of mental illness and better reflecting the fact that depression is an important link in the human public health care. In addition, Table 3 shows that the category with the highest betweenness centrality is Neuroscience, followed by Public, Environment & Occupational Health, and then Pharmacology & Pharmacy, with betweenness centrality of 0.16, 0.13, and 0.11, respectively. It is found that the research categories of depression are also centered on disciplines such as neuroscience, public health and pharmacology, indicating that research on depression requires a high degree of integration of multidisciplinary knowledge and integration of information from various disciplines in order to have a more comprehensive and in-depth understanding of the depression.

The top 15 productive categories, 2004–2019.

TP, total publications; TP R (%), the ratio of the amount of the category's publications to the total publications; BC, betweenness centrality .

Figure 4 shows the nine categories with the betweenness centrality in the category research network, with Neuroscience being the node with the highest betweenness centrality in this network, meaning that Neuroscience is most strongly linked to all research categories in the field of depression research. Depression is a debilitating psychiatric disorder with mood disorders. It is worth noting that the development of depression not only has psychological effects on humans, but also triggers many somatic symptoms that have a bad impact on their daily work and life, giving rise to the second major mediating central point of research with public health as its theme. The somatization symptoms of depression often manifest as abnormalities in the cardiovascular system, and many studies have looked at the pathology of the cardiovascular system in the hope of finding factors that influence the onset of depression, mechanisms that trigger it or new ways to treat it. Thus, depression involves not only the nervous system, but also interacts with the human cardiovascular system, for example, and the complexity of depression dictates that the study of depression is an in-depth study based on complex systems.

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Prominent categories involved in depression, 2004–2019. The betweenness centrality of a node in the network measures the importance of the position of the node in the network. Two types of nodes may have high betweenness centrality scores: (1) Nodes that are highly connected to other nodes, (2) Nodes are positioned between different groups of nodes. The lines represent the link between two different nodes.

Author Statistics

The results of the analysis showed that there were many researchers working in the field of depression over the past 16 years, and 63 of the authors published at least 30 articles related to depression. Table 4 lists the 15 authors with the highest number of articles published. It includes the rank of the number of articles published, author, country, number of articles published in depression-related studies, total number of articles included in Web of Science, total number of citations, average number of citations, and H-index. According to the statistics, seven of the top 15 authors are from USA, three from the Netherlands, one from Canada, one from Australia, one from New Zealand, one from Italy, and one from Germany. From this, it can be seen that these productive authors are from developed countries, thus it can be inferred that developed countries have a better research environment, more advanced research technology and more abundant research funding. The evaluation indicators in the author co-occurrence network are frequency, betweenness centrality and time of first appearance. The higher the frequency, i.e., the higher the number of collaborative publications, the more collaboration, the higher the information dissemination rate, the three authors with the highest frequency in this author co-occurrence network are MAURIZIO FAVA, BRENDA W. J. H. PENNINX, MADHUKAR H. TRIVEDI; the higher the betweenness centrality, i.e., the closer the relationship with other authors, the more collaboration, the higher the information dissemination rate, the three authors with the highest betweenness centrality are the three authors with the highest betweenness centrality are MICHAEL E. THASE, A. JOHN RUSH; the time of first appearance, i.e., the longer the influence generated by the author's research, the higher the information dissemination rate; in addition, the impact factor and citations can also reflect the information dissemination efficiency of the authors.

The top 15 authors in network of co-authorship, 2004–2019.

BC, betweenness centrality; TP, total publications; AP, publications in all areas; DP (%), the ratio of the publications about depression in 2004–2019 to the publications about all areas in all times; TC, total citation; CPP (%), citations per publication .

The timezone view ( Figure 5 ) in the author co-occurrence network clearly shows the updates and interactions of author collaborations, for example. All nodes are positioned in a two-dimensional coordinate with the horizontal axis of time, and according to the time of first posting, the nodes are set in different time zones, and their positions are sequentially upward with the time axis, showing a left-to-right, bottom-up knowledge evolution diagram. The time period 2004–2019 is divided into 16 time zones, one for each year, and each circle in the figure represents an author, and the time zone in which the circle appears is the year when the author first published an article in the data set of this study. The closer the color, the warmer the color, the closer the time, the colder the color, the older the era, the thickness of an annual circle, and the number of articles within the corresponding time division is proportional, the dominant color can reflect the relative concentration of the emergence time, the nodes appear in the annual circle of the red annual circle, that is, on behalf of the hot spot, the frequency of being cited was or is still increasing sharply. Nodes with purple outer circles are nodes with high betweenness centrality. The time zone view demonstrates the growth of author collaboration in the field, and it can be found from the graph that the number of author collaborations increases over time, and the frequency of publications in the author collaboration network is high; observe that the thickness of the warm annual rings in the graph is much greater than the thickness of the cold annual rings, which represents the increase of collaboration in time; there are many authors in all time zones, which indicates that there are many research collaborations and achievements in the field, and the field is in a period of collaborative prosperity. The linkage relationship between the sub-time-periods can be seen by the linkage relationship between the time periods, and it can be found from the figure that there are many linkages in the field in all time periods, which indicates that the author collaboration in the field of depression research is strong.

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Timezone view of the author's co-existing network in depression, 2004–2019. The circle represents the author, the time zone in which the circle appears is the year in which the author first published in this study dataset, the radius of the circle represents the frequency of appearance, the color represents the different posting times, the lines represent the connections between authors, and the time zone diagram shows the evolution of author collaboration.

Institutional Statistics

Table 5 lists the top 15 research institutions in network of co-authors' institutions. These include 10 American research institutions, two Netherlands research institutions, one UK research institution, one Canadian research institution and one Australian research institution, all of which, according to the statistics, are from developed countries. Of these influential research institutions, 66.7% are from USA. Figure 6 shows the collaborative network with these influential research institutions as nodes. Kings Coll London (0.2), Univ Michigan (0.17), Univ Toronto (0.15), Stanford Univ (0.14), Univ Penn (0.14), Univ Pittsburgh (0.14), Univ Melbourne (0.12), Virginia Commonwealth Univ (0.12), Columbia Univ (0.1), Duke Univ (0.1), Massachusetts Gen Hosp (0.1), Vrije Univ Amsterdam (0.1), with betweenness centrality >0.1. Kings Coll London has a central place in this collaborative network and is influential in the field of depression research. Table 6 lists the 15 institutions with the strong burst strength. The top 3 institutions are all from USA. Univ Copenhagen, Univ Illinois, Harvard Med Sch, Boston Univ, Univ Adelaide, Heidelberg Univ, Univ New South Wales, and Icahn Sch Med Mt Sinai have had strong burst strength in recent years. It suggests that these institutions may have made a greater contribution to the field of depression over the course of this year and more attention could be paid to their research.

The top 15 institutions in network of co-authors' institutions, 2004–2019.

TP, total publications; BC, betweenness centrality .

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Prominent institutions involved in depression, 2004–2019. The betweenness centrality of a node in the network measures the importance of the position of the node in the network. Two types of nodes may have high betweenness centrality scores: (1) Nodes that are highly connected to other nodes, (2) Nodes are positioned between different groups of nodes. The lines represent the link between two different nodes.

The top 15 institutions with the strongest citation bursts, 2004–2019.

Burst denote the citation burst strength; blue thin lines denote the whole period of 2004962019, which provide a useful means to trace the development of research focus; the location and length of red thick lines denote the start and end time during the whole period of the bursts and how long the burst lasts .

Summing up the above analysis, it can be seen that the research institutions in USA are at the center of the depression research field, are at the top of the world in terms of quantity and quality of research, and are showing continuous growth in vitality. Research institutions in USA, as pioneers among all research institutions, lead and drive the development of depression research and play an important role in cutting-edge research in the field of depression.

Article Citations

Table 7 lists the 16 articles that have been cited more than 1,000 times within the statistical range of this paper from 2004 to 2019. As can be seen from the table, the most cited article was written by Dowlati et al. from Canada and published in BIOLOGICAL PSYCHIATRY 2010, which was cited 2,556 times. In addition, 11 of these 16 highly cited articles were from the USA. Notably, two articles by Kroenke, K as first author appear in this list, ranked 7th and 11th, respectively. In addition, there are three articles from Canada, one article from Switzerland, and one article from the UK. And interestingly, all of these countries are developed countries. It can be reflected that developed countries have ample research experience and high quality of research in the field of depression research. On the other hand, it also reflects that depression is a key concern in developed countries. These highly cited articles provide useful information to many researchers and are of high academic and exploratory value.

The top 15 frequency cited articles, 2004–2019.

TP, total publications (citations) .

Research Hotspots Ang Frontiers

Keyword analysis.

The keyword analysis of depression yielded the 25 most frequent keywords in Table 8 and the keyword co-occurrence network in Figure 7 . Also, the data from this study were detected by burst, the 25 keywords with the strongest burst strength were obtained in Table 9 . These results bring out the popular and cutting-edge research directions in the field clearly.

Top 25 frequent keywords in the period of 2004–2019.

Count, number of times the article has been cited; BC, betweenness centrality .

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Keyword co-occurrence network in depression, 2004–2019.

Top 25 keywords with strongest citation bursts in the period of 2004–2019.

Burst denote the citation burst strength; blue thin lines denote the whole period of 2004–2019, which provide a useful means to trace the development of research focus; the location and length of red thick lines denote the start and end time during the whole period of the bursts and how long the burst lasts .

The articles on depression during 2004–2019 were analyzed in 1-year time slices, and the top 25 keywords with the highest frequency of occurrence were selected from each slice to obtain the keyword network shown in Table 8 . The top 25 keywords with the highest frequencies were: symptom, disorder, major depression, prevalence, meta-analysis, anxiety, risk, scale, association, quality of life, health, risk factor, stress, validity, validation, mental health, women, double blind, brain, population, disease, impact, primary care, mood, and efficacy. High-frequency nodes respond to popular keywords and are an important basis for the field of depression research.

Figure 7 shows the co-occurrence network mapping of keywords regarding depression research. Each circle in the figure is a node representing a keyword, and the greater the betweenness centrality, the more critical the position of the node in the network. The top 10 keywords in terms of betweenness centrality are: symptom (0.6), major depression (0.28), prevalence (0.27), disorder (0.25), double blind (0.18), risk factor (0.12), stress (0.11), children (0.1), schizophrenia (0.1), and expression (0.1). Nodes with high betweenness centrality reflect that the keyword forms a co-occurrence relationship with multiple other keywords in the domain. A higher betweenness centrality indicates that it is more related to other keywords, and therefore, the node plays an important role in the study. Relatively speaking, these nodes represent the main research directions in the field of depression; they are also the key research directions in this period, and to a certain extent, represent the research hotspots in this period.

Burst detection was performed on the keywords, and the 25 keywords with the strongest strength were extracted, as shown in Table 9 . These keywords contain: fluoxetine, community, follow up, illness, psychiatric disorder, dementia, trial, placebo, disability, serotonin reuptake inhibitor, myocardial infarction, hospital anxiety, antidepressant treatment, late life depression, United States, epidemiology, major depression, model, severity, adolescent, people, prefrontal cortex, management, meta-analysis, and expression. The keywords that burst earlier include fluoxetine (2004), community (2004), follow up (2004), illness (2004), and psychiatric disorder (2004), are keywords that imply that researchers focused on themes early in the field of depression. As researchers continue to explore, the study of depression is changing day by day, and the keywords that have burst in recent years are people (2015), prefrontal cortex (2016), management (2016), meta-analysis (2017), and expression (2017). Reflecting the fact that depression research in recent years has mainly focused on human subjects, the focus has been on the characterization of populations with depression onset. The relationship between depression and the brain has aroused the curiosity of researchers, what exactly are the causes that trigger depression and what are the effects of depression for the manifestation of depression have caused a wide range of discussions in the research community, and the topics related to it have become the most popular studies and have been the focus of research in recent years. All of these research areas showed considerable growth, indicating that research into this area is gaining traction, suggesting that it is becoming a future research priority. The keywords with the strongest burst strength are fluoxetine (111.2), community (110.08), antidepressant treatment (94.28), severity (88.35), meta-analysis (86.42), people (85.33), and follow up (84.46). The rapid growth of research based on these keywords indicates that these topics are the most promising and interesting. The keywords that has been around the longest burst are follow up (2004–2013), model (2013–2019), hospital anxiety (2008–2013), severity (2014–2019), and psychiatric disorder (2004–2008), researchers have invested a lot of research time in these research directions, making many research results, and responding to the exploratory value and significance of research on these topics. At the same time, the longer duration of burst also proves that these research directions have research potential and important value.

Research Hotspots

Hotspots must mainly have the characteristics of high frequency, high betweenness centrality, strong burst, and time of emergence can be used as secondary evaluation indicators. The higher the number of occurrences, the higher the degree of popularity and attention. The higher betweenness centrality means the greater the influence and the higher the importance. Nodes with strong burst usually represent key shift nodes and need to be focused on. The time can be dynamically adjusted according to the target time horizon of the analysis. Thus, based on the results of statistical analysis, it is clear that the research hotspots in the field of depression can be divided into four main areas: etiology (external factors, internal factors), impact (quality of life, disease symptoms, co-morbid symptoms), treatment (interventions, drug development, care modalities), and assessment (population, size, symptoms, duration of disease, morbidity, mortality, effectiveness).

Risk factors for depression include a family history of depression, early life abuse and neglect, and female sexuality and recent life stressors. Physical illnesses also increase the risk of depression, particularly increasing the prevalence associated with metabolic (e.g., cardiovascular disease) and autoimmune disorders.

Research on the etiology of depression can be divided into internal and external factors. In recent years, researchers have increasingly focused on the impact of external factors on depression. Depression is influenced by environmental factors related to social issues, such as childhood experiences, social interactions, and lifestyles. Adverse childhood experiences are risk factors for depression and anxiety in adolescence ( 37 ) and are a common pathway to depression in adults ( 38 ). Poor interpersonal relationships with classmates, family, teachers, and friends increase the prevalence of depression in adolescents ( 39 ). Related studies assessed three important, specific indicators of the self-esteem domain: social confidence, academic ability, and appearance ( 40 ). The results suggest that these three dimensions of self-esteem are key risk factors for increased depressive symptoms in Chinese adolescents. The vulnerability model ( 41 ) suggests that low self-esteem is a causal risk factor for depression, and low self-esteem is thought to be one of the main causes of the onset and progression of depression, with individuals who exhibit low self-esteem being more likely to develop social anxiety and social withdrawal, and thus having a sense of isolation ( 42 ), which in turn leads to subsequent depression. Loneliness predicts depression in adolescents. Individuals with high levels of loneliness experience more stress and tension from psychological and physical sources in their daily lives, which, combined with insufficient care from society, can lead to depression ( 43 ). A mechanism of association exists between life events and mood disorders, with negative life events being directly associated with depressive symptoms ( 44 ). In a cross-sectional study conducted in Shanghai, the prevalence of depression was higher among people who worked longer hours, and daily lifestyle greatly influenced the prevalence of depression ( 45 ). A number of studies in recent years have presented a number of interesting ideas, and they suggest that depression is related to different environmental factors, such as temperature, sunlight hours, and air pollution. Environmental factors have been associated with suicidal behavior. Traffic noise is a variable that triggers depression and is associated with personality disorders such as depression ( 46 ). The harmful effects of air pollution on mental health, inhalation of air pollutants can trigger neuroinflammation and oxidative stress and induce dopaminergic neurotoxicity. A study showed that depression was associated with an increase in ambient fine particulate matter (PM2.5) ( 47 ).

Increased inflammation is a feature of many diseases and even systemic disorders, such as some autoimmune diseases [e.g., type 1 diabetes ( 48 ) or rheumatoid arthritis ( 49 )] and infectious diseases [e.g., hepatitis and sepsis ( 50 )], are associated with an inflammatory response and have been found to increase the risk of depression. A growing body of evidence supports a bidirectional association between depression and inflammatory processes, with stressors and pathogens leading to excessive or prolonged inflammatory responses when combined with predisposing factors (e.g., childhood adversity and modifying factors such as obesity). The resulting illnesses (e.g., pain, sleep disorders), depressive symptoms, and negative health (e.g., poor diet, sedentary lifestyle) may act as mediating pathways leading to inflammation and depression. In terms of mechanistic pathways, cytokines induce depression by affecting different mood-related processes. Elevated inflammatory signals can dysregulate the metabolism of neurotransmitters, damaging neurons, and thus altering neural activity in the brain. In addition cytokines can modulate depression by regulating hormone levels. Inflammation can have different effects on different populations depending on individual physiology, and even lower levels of inflammation may have a depressive effect on vulnerable individuals. This may be due to lower parasympathetic activity, poorer sensitivity to glucocorticoid inhibitory feedback, a greater response to social threat in the anterior oral cortex or amygdala and a smaller hippocampus. Indeed, these are all factors associated with major depression that can affect the sensitivity to the inhibitory consequences of inflammatory stimuli.

Depression triggers many somatization symptoms, which can manifest as insomnia, menopausal syndrome, cardiovascular problems, pain, and other somatic symptoms. There is a link between sleep deprivation and depression, with insomnia being a trigger and maintenance of depression, and more severe insomnia and chronic symptoms predicting more severe depression. Major depression is considered to be an independent risk factor for the development of coronary heart disease and a predictor of cardiovascular events ( 51 ). Patients with depression are extremely sensitive to pain and have increased pain perception ( 52 ) and is associated with an increased risk of suicide ( 53 , 54 ), and generally the symptoms of these pains are not relieved by medication.

Studies have shown that depression triggers an inflammatory response, promoting an increase in cytokines in response to stressors vs. pathogens. For example, mild depressive symptoms have been associated with an amplified and prolonged inflammatory response ( 55 , 56 ) following influenza vaccination in older adults and pregnant women. Among women who have recently given birth, those with a lifetime history of major depression have greater increases in both serum IL-6 and soluble IL-6 receptors after delivery than women without a history of depression ( 57 ). Pro-inflammatory agents, such as interferon-alpha (IFN-alpha), for specific somatization disorders [e.g., hepatitis C or malignant melanoma ( 58 , 59 )], although effective for somatic disorders, pro-inflammatory therapy often leads to psychiatric side effects. Up to 80% of patients treated with IFN-α have been reported to suffer from mild to moderate depressive symptoms.

Clinical trials have shown better antidepressant treatment with anti-inflammatory drugs compared to placebo, either as monotherapy ( 60 , 61 ) or as an add-on treatment ( 62 – 65 ) to antidepressants ( 66 , 67 ). However, findings like whether NSAIDs can be safely used in combination with antidepressants are controversial. Patients with depression often suffer from somatic co-morbidities, which must be included in the benefit/risk assessment. It is important to consider the type of medication, duration of treatment, and dose, and always balance the potential treatment effect with the risk of adverse events in individual patients. Depression, childhood adversity, stressors, and diet all affect the gut microbiota and promote gut permeability, another pathway that enhances the inflammatory response, and effective depression treatment may have profound effects on mood, inflammation, and health. Early in life gut flora colonization is associated with hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis activation and affects the enteric nervous system, which is associated with the risk of major depression, gut flora dysbiosis leads to the onset of TLR4-mediated inflammatory responses, and pro-inflammatory factors are closely associated with depression. Clinical studies have shown that in the gut flora of depressed patients, pro-inflammatory bacteria such as Enterobacteriaceae and Desulfovibrio are enriched, while short-chain fatty acid producing bacteria are reduced, and some of these bacterial taxa may transmit peripheral inflammation into the brain via the brain-gut axis ( 68 ). In addition, gut flora can affect the immune system by modulating neurotransmitters (5-hydroxytryptamine, gamma-aminobutyric acid, norepinephrine, etc.), which in turn can influence the development of depression ( 69 ). Therefore, antidepressant drugs targeting gut flora are a future research direction, and diet can have a significant impact on mood by regulating gut flora.

As the molecular basis of clinical depression remains unclear, and treatments and therapeutic effects are limited and associated with side effects, researchers have worked to discover new treatment modalities for depression. High-amplitude low-frequency musical impulse stimulation as an additional treatment modality seems to produce beneficial effects ( 70 ). Studies have found electroconvulsive therapy to be one of the most effective antidepressant treatment therapies ( 71 ). Physical exercise can promote molecular changes that lead to a shift from a chronic pro-inflammatory to an anti-inflammatory state in the peripheral and central nervous system ( 72 ). Aromatherapy is widely used in the treatment of central nervous system disorders ( 73 ). By activating the parasympathetic nervous system, qigong can be effective in reducing depression ( 74 ). The exploration of these new treatment modalities provides more reference options for the treatment of depression.

Large-scale assessments of depression have found that the probability of developing depression varies across populations. Depression affects some specific populations more significantly, for example: adolescents, mothers, and older adults. Depression is one of the disorders that predispose to adolescence, and depression is associated with an increased risk of suicide among college students ( 75 ). Many women develop depression after childbirth. Depression that develops after childbirth is one of the most common complications for women in the postpartum period ( 76 ). The health of children born to mothers who suffer from postpartum depression can also be adversely affected ( 77 ). Depression can cause many symptoms within the central nervous system, especially in the elderly population ( 78 ).

Furthermore, one of the most consistent findings of the association between inflammation and depression is the elevated levels of peripheral pro-inflammatory markers in depressed individuals, and peripheral pro-inflammatory marker levels can also be used as a basis for the assessment of depressed patients. Studies have shown that the following pro-inflammatory markers have been found to be at increased levels in depressed individuals: CRP ( 79 , 80 ), IL-6 ( 22 , 79 , 81 , 82 ), TNF–α, and interleukin-1 receptor antagonist (IL-1ra) ( 79 , 82 ), however, this association is not unidirectional and the subsequent development of depression also increases pro-inflammatory markers ( 82 , 83 ). These biomarkers are of great interest, and depressed patients with increased inflammatory markers may represent a relatively drug-resistant population.

Frontier Analysis

The exploration and analysis of frontier areas of depression were based on the results of the analysis of the previous section on keywords. According to the evaluation index and analysis idea of this study, the frontier research topics need to have the following four characteristics: low to medium frequency, strong burst, high betweenness centrality, and the research direction in recent years. Therefore, combining the results of keyword analysis and these characteristics, it can be found that the frontier research on depression also becomes clear.

Research on Depression Characterized by Psychosexual Disorders

Exploration of biological mechanisms based on depression-associated neurological disorders and analysis of depression from a neurological perspective have always been the focus of research. Activation of neuroinflammatory pathways may contribute to the development of depression ( 84 ). A research model based on the microbial-gut-brain axis facilitates the neurobiology of depression ( 85 ). Some probiotics positively affect the central nervous system due to modulation of neuroinflammation and thus may be able to modulate depression ( 86 ). The combination of environmental issues and the neurobiological study of depression opens new research directions ( 46 ).

Research on Relevant Models of Depression

How to develop a model that meets the purpose of the study determines the outcome of the study and has become the direction that researchers have been exploring in recent years. Martínez et al. ( 87 ) developed a predictive model to assess factors that modify the treatment pathway for postpartum depression. Nie et al. ( 88 ) extended the work on predictive modeling of treatment-resistant depression to establish a predictive model for treatment-resistant depression. Rational modeling methods and behavioral testing facilitate a more comprehensive exploration of depression, with richer studies and more scientifically valid findings.

Research and Characterization of the Depressed Patient Population

Current research on special groups and depression has received much attention. In a study of a group of children, 4% were found to suffer from depression ( 89 ). The diagnosis and treatment of mental health disorders is an important component of pediatric care. Second, some studies of populations with distinct characteristics have been based primarily on female populations. Maternal perinatal depression is also a common mental disorder with a prevalence of over 10% ( 90 ). In addition, geriatric depression is a chronic and specific disorder ( 91 ). Studies based on these populations highlight the characteristics of the disorder more directly than large-scale population explorations and are useful for conducting extended explorations from specific to generalized.

Somatic Comorbidities Associated With Depression

Depression often accompanies the onset and development of many other disorders, making the study of physical comorbidities associated with depression a new landing place for depression research. Depression is a complication of many neurological or psychopathological disorders. Depression is a common co-morbidity of glioblastoma multiforme ( 92 ). Depression is an important disorder associated with stroke ( 93 ). Chronic liver disease is associated with depression ( 94 ). The link between depressive and anxiety states and cancer has been well-documented ( 95 ). In conclusion, depression is associated with an increased risk of lung, oral, prostate, and skin cancers, an increased risk of cancer-specific death from lung, bladder, breast, colorectal, hematopoietic system, kidney, and prostate cancers, and an increased risk of all-cause mortality in lung cancer patients. The early detection and effective intervention of depression and its complications has public health and clinical implications.

Research on Mechanisms of Depression

Research based on the mechanisms of depression includes the study of disease pathogenesis, the study of drug action mechanisms, and the study of disease treatment mechanisms. Research on the pathogenesis of depression has focused more on the study of the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis. Social pressure can change the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis ( 96 ). Studies on the mechanism of action of drugs are mostly based on their effects on the central nervous system. The antidepressant effects of Tanshinone IIA are mediated by the ERK-CREB-BDNF pathway in the hippocampus of mice ( 97 ). Research on the mechanisms of depression treatment has also centered on the central nervous system. It has been shown that the vagus nerve can transmit signals to the brain that can lead to a reduction in depressive behavior ( 98 ).

In this study, based on the 2004–2019 time period, this wealth of data is effectively integrated through data analysis and processing to reproduce the research process in a particular field and to co-present global trends in homogenous fields while organizing past research.

Journals that have made outstanding contributions in this field include ARCH GEN PSYCHIAT, J AFFECT DISORDERS and AM J PSYCHIAT. PSYCHIATRY, NEUROSCIENCES & NEUROLOGY and CLINICAL NEUROLOGY are the three most popular categories. The three researchers with the highest number of articles were MAURIZIO FAVA (USA), BRENDA W. J. H. PENNINX (NETHERLANDS) and MADHUKAR H TRIVEDI (USA). Univ Pittsburgh (USA), Kings Coll London (UK) and Harvard Univ (USA) are three of the most productive and influential research institutions. A Meta-Analysis of Cytokines in Major Depression, Evaluation of outcomes with citalopram for depression using measurement-based care in STAR*D: Implications for clinical practice and Deep brain stimulation for treatment-resistant depression are key articles. Through keyword analysis, a distribution network centered on depression was formed. Although there are good trends in the research on depression, there are still many directions to be explored in depth. Some recommendations regarding depression are as follows.

(1) The prevention of depression can be considered by focusing on treating external factors and guiding the individual.

Faced with the rising incidence of depression worldwide and the difficulty of treating depression, researchers can think more about how to prevent the occurrence of depression. Depressed moods are often the result of stress, not only social pressures on the individual, but also environmental pressures in the developmental process, which in turn have an unhealthy relationship with the body and increase the likelihood of depression. The correlation between external factors and depression is less well-studied, but the control of external factors may be more effective in the short term than in the long term, and may be guided by self-adjustment to avoid major depressive disorder.

(2) The measurement and evaluation of the degree of depression should be developed in the direction of precision.

In the course of research, it has been found that the Depression Rating Scale is mostly used for the detection and evaluation of depression. This kind of assessment is more objective, but it still lacks accuracy, and the research on measurement techniques and methods is less, which is still at a low stage. Patients with depression usually have a variety of causes, conditions, and duration of illness that determine the degree of depression. Therefore, whether these scales can truly accurately measure depression in depressed patients needs further consideration. Accurate measurement is an important basis for evidence-based treatment of depression, and thus how to achieve accurate measurement of depression is a research direction that researchers can move toward.

Therefore, there is an urgent need for further research to address these issues.

A systematic analysis of research in the field of depression in this study concludes that the distribution of countries, journals, categories, authors, institutions, and citations may help researchers and research institutions to establish closer collaboration, develop appropriate publication plans, grasp research hotspots, identify valuable research ideas, understand current emerging research, and determine research directions. In addition, there are still some limitations that can be overcome in future work. First, due to the lack of author and address information in older published articles, it may not be possible to accurately calculate their collaboration; second, although the data scope of this paper is limited to the Web of Science, it can adequately meet our objectives.

Data Availability Statement

Author contributions.

HW conceived and designed the analysis, collected the data, performed the analysis, and wrote the paper. XT, XW, and YW conceived and designed the analysis. All authors contributed to the article and approved the submitted version.

This work was supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China under Grant No. 81973495.

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare that the research was conducted in the absence of any commercial or financial relationships that could be construed as a potential conflict of interest.

Publisher's Note

All claims expressed in this article are solely those of the authors and do not necessarily represent those of their affiliated organizations, or those of the publisher, the editors and the reviewers. Any product that may be evaluated in this article, or claim that may be made by its manufacturer, is not guaranteed or endorsed by the publisher.

Home — Essay Samples — Nursing & Health — Psychiatry & Mental Health — Depression

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Essays About Depression

Depression essay topic examples.

Explore topics like the impact of stigma on depression, compare it across age groups or in literature and media, describe the emotional journey of depression, discuss how education can help, and share personal stories related to it. These essay ideas offer a broad perspective on depression, making it easier to understand and engage with this important subject.

Argumentative Essays

Argumentative essays require you to analyze and present arguments related to depression. Here are some topic examples:

  • 1. Argue whether mental health stigma contributes to the prevalence of depression in society.
  • 2. Analyze the effectiveness of different treatment approaches for depression, such as therapy versus medication.

Example Introduction Paragraph for an Argumentative Essay: Depression is a pervasive mental health issue that affects millions of individuals worldwide. This essay delves into the complex relationship between mental health stigma and the prevalence of depression in society, examining the barriers to seeking help and the consequences of this stigma.

Example Conclusion Paragraph for an Argumentative Essay: In conclusion, the analysis of mental health stigma's impact on depression underscores the urgent need to challenge and dismantle the stereotypes surrounding mental health. As we reflect on the far-reaching consequences of stigma, we are called to create a society that fosters empathy, understanding, and open dialogue about mental health.

Compare and Contrast Essays

Compare and contrast essays enable you to examine similarities and differences within the context of depression. Consider these topics:

  • 1. Compare and contrast the symptoms and risk factors of depression in adolescents and adults.
  • 2. Analyze the similarities and differences between the portrayal of depression in literature and its depiction in modern media.

Example Introduction Paragraph for a Compare and Contrast Essay: Depression manifests differently in various age groups and mediums of expression. This essay embarks on a journey to compare and contrast the symptoms and risk factors of depression in adolescents and adults, shedding light on the unique challenges faced by each demographic.

Example Conclusion Paragraph for a Compare and Contrast Essay: In conclusion, the comparison and contrast of depression in adolescents and adults highlight the importance of tailored interventions and support systems. As we contemplate the distinct challenges faced by these age groups, we are reminded of the need for age-appropriate mental health resources and strategies.

Descriptive Essays

Descriptive essays allow you to vividly depict aspects of depression, whether it's the experience of the individual or the societal impact. Here are some topic ideas:

  • 1. Describe the emotional rollercoaster of living with depression, highlighting the highs and lows of the experience.
  • 2. Paint a detailed portrait of the consequences of untreated depression on an individual's personal and professional life.

Example Introduction Paragraph for a Descriptive Essay: Depression is a complex emotional journey that defies easy characterization. This essay embarks on a descriptive exploration of the emotional rollercoaster that individuals with depression experience, delving into the profound impact it has on their daily lives.

Example Conclusion Paragraph for a Descriptive Essay: In conclusion, the descriptive portrayal of the emotional rollercoaster of depression underscores the need for empathy and support for those grappling with this condition. Through this exploration, we are reminded of the resilience of the human spirit and the importance of compassionate understanding.

Persuasive Essays

Persuasive essays involve arguing a point of view related to depression. Consider these persuasive topics:

  • 1. Persuade your readers that incorporating mental health education into the school curriculum can reduce the prevalence of depression among students.
  • 2. Argue for or against the idea that employers should prioritize the mental well-being of their employees to combat workplace depression.

Example Introduction Paragraph for a Persuasive Essay: The prevalence of depression underscores the urgent need for proactive measures to address mental health. This persuasive essay asserts that integrating mental health education into the school curriculum can significantly reduce the prevalence of depression among students, offering them the tools to navigate emotional challenges.

Example Conclusion Paragraph for a Persuasive Essay: In conclusion, the persuasive argument for mental health education in schools highlights the potential for early intervention and prevention. As we consider the well-being of future generations, we are called to prioritize mental health education as an essential component of a holistic education system.

Narrative Essays

Narrative essays offer you the opportunity to tell a story or share personal experiences related to depression. Explore these narrative essay topics:

  • 1. Narrate a personal experience of overcoming depression or supporting a loved one through their journey.
  • 2. Imagine yourself in a fictional scenario where you advocate for mental health awareness and destigmatization on a global scale.

Example Introduction Paragraph for a Narrative Essay: Personal experiences with depression can be transformative and enlightening. This narrative essay delves into a personal journey of overcoming depression, highlighting the challenges faced, the support received, and the lessons learned along the way.

Example Conclusion Paragraph for a Narrative Essay: In conclusion, the narrative of my personal journey through depression reminds us of the resilience of the human spirit and the power of compassion and understanding. As we reflect on our own experiences, we are encouraged to share our stories and contribute to the ongoing conversation about mental health.

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Depression, known as major depressive disorder or clinical depression, is a psychological condition characterized by enduring feelings of sadness and a significant loss of interest in activities. It is a mood disorder that affects a person's emotional state, thoughts, behaviors, and overall well-being.

Its origin can be traced back to ancient civilizations, where melancholia was described as a state of sadness and melancholy. In the 19th century, depression began to be studied more systematically, and terms such as "melancholic depression" and "nervous breakdown" emerged. The understanding and classification of depression have evolved over time. In the early 20th century, Sigmund Freud and other psychoanalysts explored the role of unconscious conflicts in the development of depression. In the mid-20th century, the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) was established, providing a standardized criteria for diagnosing depressive disorders.

Biological Factors: Genetic predisposition plays a role in depression, as individuals with a family history of the disorder are at a higher risk. Psychological Factors: These may include a history of trauma or abuse, low self-esteem, pessimistic thinking patterns, and a tendency to ruminate on negative thoughts. Environmental Factors: Adverse life events, such as the loss of a loved one, financial difficulties, relationship problems, or chronic stress, can increase the risk of depression. Additionally, living in a socioeconomically disadvantaged area or lacking access to social support can be contributing factors. Health-related Factors: Chronic illnesses, such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and chronic pain, are associated with a higher risk of depression. Substance abuse and certain medications can also increase vulnerability to depression. Developmental Factors: Certain life stages, including adolescence and the postpartum period, bring about unique challenges and changes that can contribute to the development of depression.

Depression is characterized by a range of symptoms that affect an individual's emotional, cognitive, and physical well-being. These characteristics can vary in intensity and duration but generally include persistent feelings of sadness, hopelessness, and a loss of interest or pleasure in activities once enjoyed. One prominent characteristic of depression is a noticeable change in mood, which can manifest as a constant feeling of sadness or emptiness. Individuals may also experience a significant decrease or increase in appetite, leading to weight loss or gain. Sleep disturbances, such as insomnia or excessive sleepiness, are common as well. Depression can impact cognitive functioning, causing difficulties in concentration, decision-making, and memory recall. Negative thoughts, self-criticism, and feelings of guilt or worthlessness are also common cognitive symptoms. Furthermore, physical symptoms may arise, including fatigue, low energy levels, and a general lack of motivation. Physical aches and pains, without an apparent medical cause, may also be present.

The treatment of depression typically involves a comprehensive approach that addresses both the physical and psychological aspects of the condition. It is important to note that the most effective treatment may vary for each individual, and a personalized approach is often necessary. One common form of treatment is psychotherapy, which involves talking to a mental health professional to explore and address the underlying causes and triggers of depression. Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) is a widely used approach that helps individuals identify and change negative thought patterns and behaviors associated with depression. In some cases, medication may be prescribed to help manage depressive symptoms. Antidepressant medications work by balancing neurotransmitters in the brain that are associated with mood regulation. It is crucial to work closely with a healthcare provider to find the right medication and dosage that suits an individual's needs. Additionally, lifestyle changes can play a significant role in managing depression. Regular exercise, a balanced diet, sufficient sleep, and stress reduction techniques can all contribute to improving mood and overall well-being. In severe cases of depression, when other treatments have not been effective, electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) may be considered. ECT involves administering controlled electric currents to the brain to induce a brief seizure, which can have a positive impact on depressive symptoms.

1. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), over 264 million people worldwide suffer from depression, making it one of the leading causes of disability globally. 2. Depression can affect people of all ages, including children and adolescents. In fact, the prevalence of depression in young people is increasing, with an estimated 3.3 million adolescents in the United States experiencing at least one major depressive episode in a year. 3. Research has shown that there is a strong link between depression and other physical health conditions. People with depression are more likely to experience chronic pain, cardiovascular diseases, and autoimmune disorders, among other medical conditions.

The topic of depression holds immense significance and should be explored through essays due to its widespread impact on individuals and society as a whole. Understanding and raising awareness about depression is crucial for several reasons. Firstly, depression affects a significant portion of the global population, making it a pressing public health issue. Exploring its causes, symptoms, and treatment options can contribute to better mental health outcomes and improved quality of life for individuals affected by this condition. Additionally, writing an essay about depression can help combat the stigma surrounding mental health. By promoting open discussions and providing accurate information, essays can challenge misconceptions and foster empathy and support for those experiencing depression. Furthermore, studying depression allows for a deeper examination of its complex nature, including its psychological, biological, and sociocultural factors. Lastly, essays on depression can highlight the importance of early detection and intervention, promoting timely help-seeking behaviors and reducing the burden of the condition on individuals and healthcare systems. By shedding light on this critical topic, essays have the potential to educate, inspire action, and contribute to the overall well-being of individuals and society.

1. American Psychiatric Association. (2013). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders (5th ed.). American Psychiatric Publishing. 2. World Health Organization. (2017). Depression and other common mental disorders: Global health estimates. World Health Organization. 3. Kessler, R. C., Bromet, E. J., & Quinlan, J. (2013). The burden of mental disorders: Global perspectives from the WHO World Mental Health Surveys. Cambridge University Press. 4. Beck, A. T., Rush, A. J., Shaw, B. F., & Emery, G. (1979). Cognitive therapy of depression. Guilford Press. 5. Nierenberg, A. A., & DeCecco, L. M. (2001). Definitions and diagnosis of depression. The Journal of Clinical Psychiatry, 62(Suppl 22), 5-9. 6. Greenberg, P. E., Fournier, A. A., Sisitsky, T., Pike, C. T., & Kessler, R. C. (2015). The economic burden of adults with major depressive disorder in the United States (2005 and 2010). Journal of Clinical Psychiatry, 76(2), 155-162. 7. Cuijpers, P., Berking, M., Andersson, G., Quigley, L., Kleiboer, A., & Dobson, K. S. (2013). A meta-analysis of cognitive-behavioural therapy for adult depression, alone and in comparison with other treatments. Canadian Journal of Psychiatry, 58(7), 376-385. 8. Hirschfeld, R. M. A. (2014). The comorbidity of major depression and anxiety disorders: Recognition and management in primary care. Primary Care Companion for CNS Disorders, 16(2), PCC.13r01611. 9. Rush, A. J., Trivedi, M. H., Wisniewski, S. R., Nierenberg, A. A., Stewart, J. W., Warden, D., ... & Fava, M. (2006). Acute and longer-term outcomes in depressed outpatients requiring one or several treatment steps: A STAR*D report. American Journal of Psychiatry, 163(11), 1905-1917. 10. Kendler, K. S., Kessler, R. C., Walters, E. E., MacLean, C., Neale, M. C., Heath, A. C., & Eaves, L. J. (1995). Stressful life events, genetic liability, and onset of an episode of major depression in women. American Journal of Psychiatry, 152(6), 833-842.

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The causes of depression essay sample, example.


The first—and surprising—risk factor for developing depression is gender. About 20-25% women in the United States develop serious depression, sometimes not just once in their lives; for comparison, only about 12% of male Americans face the same problem—or maybe, they visit a doctor’s office less often (All About This is probably connected to the fact that in today’s America, women often have to deal with a wide range of roles, such as business woman, mother, wife, housekeeper, and so on—and these roles often conflict with each other. Unhappy marriages, hormonal changes, and heredity can be contributing factors.

Another group of factors that lead to depression are different psychological problems. Most often, low self-esteem is the major cause, since it makes a person treat themselves with neglect, prevent them from believing in their own strengths, and see the world pessimistically. Other possible psychological reasons are stress, perfectionism, chronic anxiety, avoidant personality disorders, and so on (PsychCentral).

Personal factors, such as complicated life situations, a tragic family history, childhood traumas, living in stressful environments for a long time, and other similar life circumstances can garner depressive conditions. Genetic proneness is also related to this group of causes. At the same time, it does not mean that a person will automatically develop depression if he or she had cases of depression in their family, or they are in a complicated life situation. This group of factors mostly creates premises, and is commonly combined with other risk factors (Beyond Blue).

Alcohol, by the way, is as strong of a cause of depression as genetic factors or psychological problems. Although it is usually considered that alcohol helps people get rid of stress, and increase their communication, in fact it is a depressant that increases a person’s chances to develop depression ( These are not the only possible causes of depression, but commonly, this disorder is caused by an aggregate of the factors described above. It is likely that women develop depression more often than men; also, people with psychological problems and complicated personal circumstances are more prone to developing depression. The usage of alcohol not only does not help people get rid of stress, but on the contrary, increases the risks of developing depression. These factors should be taken into account in one’s daily life in order to avoid depression.

“Causes.” All About Depression. N.p., n.d. Web. 11 Feb. 2015.

“What are the Risk Factors for Depression?” Psych N.p., n.d. Web. 11 Feb. 2015.

“What Causes Depression.” Beyond Blue. N.p., n.d. Web. 11 Feb. 2015.

“Alcohol as a Depressant.” N.p., n.d. Web. 11 Feb. 2015. .

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Essay on Depression Cause And Effect

Students are often asked to write an essay on Depression Cause And Effect in their schools and colleges. And if you’re also looking for the same, we have created 100-word, 250-word, and 500-word essays on the topic.

Let’s take a look…

100 Words Essay on Depression Cause And Effect

Understanding depression.

Depression is a mental health issue. It makes people feel sad and lose interest in things they used to enjoy. It’s not just feeling blue; it’s a serious condition that affects a person’s daily life.

Causes of Depression

Depression doesn’t have one single cause. It can be due to many factors. These can be biological, like changes in brain chemicals, or environmental, like stressful life events. Sometimes, it can also be genetic, meaning it runs in families.

Effects of Depression

Depression affects a person’s feelings, thoughts, and actions. They may feel hopeless, lose appetite, or have trouble sleeping. It can also make it hard for them to focus or make decisions.

Depression and Physical Health

Depression can also affect physical health. People with depression may feel tired all the time or have aches and pains. In severe cases, it can make them think about suicide.

Treating Depression

Depression is treatable. Treatments include talking therapies, medication, and self-care practices. It’s important to seek help if you think you or someone else may be depressed.

250 Words Essay on Depression Cause And Effect

Depression is a serious mood disorder. It’s not just feeling sad or upset, but a condition that affects a person’s thinking, feeling, and behavior. It can make everyday tasks difficult and can lead to physical health problems.

Depression can be caused by many factors. One main cause is changes in the brain. Certain chemicals in the brain, like serotonin and dopamine, play a major role in our mood. When these chemicals are out of balance, it can lead to depression.

Other causes of depression include life events, such as the death of a loved one, a major illness, or stress. Genetics can also play a role. If someone in your family has depression, you might be more likely to get it too.

Depression can have a big impact on a person’s life. It can make it hard to get out of bed in the morning, go to school, or do other daily activities. It can also lead to physical problems, like headaches or stomachaches, and can make it hard to eat or sleep.

Depression can also affect a person’s relationships. It can make it hard to connect with others and can make a person feel isolated.

Depression is a serious condition that can affect every part of a person’s life. It’s important to understand its causes and effects, so we can help those who are suffering. If you or someone you know is dealing with depression, don’t hesitate to reach out for help.

500 Words Essay on Depression Cause And Effect


Depression is a serious mood disorder that affects how you think, feel, and handle daily activities. It’s more than just feeling sad or low. It’s a constant feeling of sadness and loss of interest that can stop you from doing normal activities. Different types of depression exist, with symptoms ranging from relatively minor to severe. Generally, depression does not result from a single event, but from a mix of events and factors.

Depression can be caused by a combination of many things. Some people might have a genetic tendency towards it. It can also come from certain life events, like losing a loved one, going through a divorce, or being under a lot of stress. Sometimes, depression can also be caused by physical health problems.

Biological Causes

Our bodies and brains are closely linked. Changes in your body’s hormone levels can affect your mood and feelings. Certain medical conditions can also cause depression. For example, some people may feel low and unhappy when they are sick or in pain. This can lead to depression.

Psychological and Social Causes

Depression can also be caused by psychological and social factors. These include a difficult childhood, loneliness, relationship problems, work stress, or living in poverty. Sometimes, a traumatic event can trigger depression. This could be something like a natural disaster, a personal crisis, or a violent attack.

Depression doesn’t just affect your mind; it also affects your body. Some common effects of depression include:

Physical Effects

Depression can cause many physical symptoms, including aches and pains, loss of appetite, weight changes, feeling tired all the time, and sleep problems. It can also make existing physical health problems worse.

Emotional Effects

People with depression often feel sad, anxious, guilty, or hopeless. They may lose interest in things they used to enjoy. They might find it hard to concentrate or make decisions. In severe cases, they may even think about suicide.

Social Effects

Depression can make it hard to maintain relationships. People with depression might withdraw from friends and family. They may find it hard to perform at work or school. This can lead to social isolation and other problems.

Depression is a serious condition that affects millions of people around the world. It’s caused by a mix of genetic, biological, environmental, and psychological factors. Depression can cause significant suffering and can negatively impact a person’s life. But with the right treatment, most people with depression can get better. Understanding the causes and effects of depression can help us to support those who are suffering and to seek help if we need it ourselves.

That’s it! I hope the essay helped you.

If you’re looking for more, here are essays on other interesting topics:

  • Essay on Depression And Anxiety
  • Essay on Depression Among Students
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  • What is a recession? 

Recessions and the business cycle

  • What is a depression? 

Recession vs. depression

  • How recessions affect you 
  • Recession FAQs

What is a recession?

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  • A recession and a depression describe periods during which the economy shrinks, but they differ in severity, duration, and scale.
  • A recession is a decline in economic activity spread across the economy that lasts more than a few months.
  • A depression is a more extreme economic downturn, and there has only been one in US history: The Great Depression, which lasted from 1929 to 1939.

Economic downturns are a lousy time for everyone. You may be worried about losing your job and being able to pay your bills — or you may be alarmed at just how abruptly that little red line that represents your investment portfolio has dropped. It's even worse if that red line represents your 401(k) savings. As a result, it can be helpful to know the signs of a recession, as well as the different ways this term is defined. 

While you've probably heard the terms "recession" and "depression" before, you may not know what they actually mean and what the difference is between the two. Chiefly, a depression is a more severe, long-lasting recession that extends beyond the confines of a single country's border and into the economies of other nations.

To help you better understand the business cycle and prepare for the twists and turns of an economic crisis, here's what you need to know about recessions, depressions, and how they're different. 

What is a recession?  

Defining a recession , technical definition .

The technical definition of a recession is "a significant decline in economic activity that is spread across the economy and that lasts more than a few months," according to the National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER), a nonprofit organization that officially declares U.S. recessions and expansions. 

An economic recession is often defined as a decline of real (meaning inflation-adjusted) gross domestic product (GDP) for two consecutive quarters — but it's not that simple. Over the course of a business cycle, you might see GDP contract for a period of time, but that doesn't necessarily mean that there's a recession. 

The NBER takes a broader view. The group defines recessions as "a significant decline in economic activity spread across the economy, lasting more than a few months," with indicators including:

  • Decline in real GDP
  • Decline in real income
  • Rise in unemployment
  • Slowed industrial production and retail sales
  • Lack of consumer spending

The NBER's view of recessions takes a more holistic outlook of the economy, meaning recessions are not necessarily defined by one single factor. But many of these factors are intertwined, meaning a significant drop in something like GDP could rattle consumer spending or unemployment.

In simpler terms 

A recession can be defined as a time during which the economy shrinks, businesses make less money and the unemployment rate goes up. The business cycle is not characterized by neverending increases in GDP. As a result, there are times when this economic yardstick is decreasing, and if it declines for a long enough time, the economy has entered recession. 

These periods of economic decline frequently last about a year, according to figures provided by the International Monetary Fund (IMF). 

During these times, many economic indicators experience notable declines. Investment and production both decline, according to an IMF paper. Consumption also declines, which reduces the overall demand for goods and services created by corporations. 

This, in turn, can reduce profitability and motivate companies to lay off employees in an effort to ensure their bottom line remains healthy. 

It is worth noting that while recessions frequently last about a year, expansions generally last longer , as the economy is usually growing in size, according to the IMF. 

More specifically, the global organization examined 21 advanced economies between 1960 and 2007, revealing that they were in recession roughly 10% of the time, at least according to this sample. 

Causes of recession

Generally speaking, expansion and growth in an economy cannot last forever. A significant decline in economic activity is usually triggered by a complex, interconnected combination of factors, including:

Economic shocks 

An economic shock is an unpredictable event that causes widespread economic disruption, such as a natural disaster or a terrorist attack. The most recent example of such a shock was the COVID-19 outbreak, which triggered a brief recession. 

Another example of an event that served as a shock to the economy was Hurricane Katrina. One estimate was that this natural disaster caused $200 billion worth of damage, according to figures from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. 

High interest rates 

High interest rates make it more expensive for consumers to borrow money. This means that they are less likely to spend, especially on major purchases like houses or cars. Companies will probably reduce their spending and growth plans as well because the cost of financing is too high.

Asset bubbles

During an asset bubble, for example a housing bubble , the prices of investments like tech stocks in the dot-com era or real estate before the Great Recession rise rapidly, far beyond their fundamentals. These high prices are supported only by artificially inflated demand, which is caused by overly optimistic expectations of future asset values. This artificially inflated demand eventually dissipates, and the bubble bursts. At this point, people lose money and confidence collapses. Both consumers and businesses cut down on spending and the economy goes into recession. 

Loss of confidence

The sentiment of consumers has a substantial impact on the economy. Consumer spending accounts for close to 70% of U.S. GDP, so when these individuals tighten up their purse strings, it can tip the economy into recession. Even if this change in mindset is not enough to trigger a recession, a drop in consumer demand gives companies less incentive to produce goods and services, which can in turn motivate them to lay off employees in order to maintain profitability.

It is worth noting that the confidence of business executives, as well as other key decision makers in corporations, has a substantial impact on the health of the economy. If these decision makers become less confident, then they could cut budgets, laying off workers and potentially reducing expenditure on capital equipment in an effort to bolster profitability. 

To understand the macroeconomic variables that constitute recessions, Giacomo Santalego , PhD, a senior lecturer of economics at Fordham University, says it's important to acknowledge the relationship between recessions and the business cycle.

A business cycle tracks the up-and-down fluctuations natural to any capitalistic economies. Because the cycle traces the wide-ranging upward and downward comovements of economic indicators, it is often a focal point for monetary and fiscal policy as governments attempt to curtail the effects of these peaks and valleys.

Business cycles are understood as having four distinct phases:

  • Expansion: This phase represents a period of economic growth, also considered the "normal" phase of the business cycle. It is often characterized by an increase in employment and a swelling of consumer spending and demand, which leads to an increase in the production and cost of goods and services.
  • Peak: The highest point of a business cycle that signifies when an economy has reached its crest of output. Here, there's nowhere to go but down, sending the economy into a contraction phase. This can happen for any number of reasons, either investors get too speculative and create an asset bubble or industrial production starts outpacing demand. This is commonly seen as the turning point into the contraction phase.
  • Contraction: A period that is marked by a decline in economic activity often identified by a rise in unemployment as well as a bear market . Additionally, GDP growth falls under 2%. As growth contracts, the economy enters a recession. 
  • Trough: A peak is to an expansion what a trough is to a contraction. A trough marks the bottom of a business cycle's economic activity and marks the start of a new wave of expansion and a new business cycle. This is a turning point that's followed by a new wave of expansion. 

It's important to note that business cycles do not occur at predictable intervals. Instead, they are irregular in length, and their severity is reflected by the economic variables of the time. That said, the average post-World War II business cycle lasted 65 months, according to the Congressional Research Service . 

What is a depression? 

An economic depression is typically understood as an extreme downturn in economic activity lasting several years, but the exact definition and specifications of a depression are less clear. 

"The way people think about it is a depression is a more widespread and severe recession," says Laura Ullrich, senior regional economist with the Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond, says, "but there is no clear-cut moment where we can say 'we hit X unemployment rate or Y GDP growth — we're now officially in a depression.'"

The NBER notes that economists differ on the period of time that designates a depression. Some experts believe a depression lasts only when economic activity is declining, while the more common understanding is that a depression extends until economic activity has returned to close to normal levels. 

A depression is a more severe recession. However, it's a little tricky to concretely, quantifiably describe the difference between a recession and a depression, mainly because there's only been one. 

Because economists do not have a set definition for what constitutes a depression, the general public sometimes uses it interchangeably with the term recession. However, the difference makes itself evident when you compare the Great Recession to the Great Depression. 

Generally speaking, a depression spans years, rather than months, and typically sees higher rates of unemployment and a sharper decline in GDP. And while a recession is often limited to a single country, a depression is usually severe enough to have global impacts.

How recessions affect you 

Job losses .

One major consequence of economic downturns is job losses. When the economy starts to contract, revenues decline, which gives companies substantial incentive to lay off employees in order to turn a profit. A perfect example of how a downturn can cause employers to eliminate jobs is the recession that coincided with the COVID-19 pandemic. The global pandemic began in early 2020, and during March, April and May of that year, the nation's employers shed 1.5 million jobs, according to figures from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Further, economic downturns result in reduced tax revenue, which can prompt governments to lay off workers. Many state governments, in particular, need to balance their budgets each year, which can cause them to slash jobs. 

Reduced income 

Economic downturns can lower the income of residents by eliminating jobs and lowering wages. In addition, companies reduce investment in capital equipment during recessions, which lowers productivity. This can, in turn, adversely impact wages. Lowered incomes can have significant impacts on the economy in the long-term, for example undermining nutrition and making it more difficult for people to pursue college education. Both of these adverse effects can impact productivity in the long-run. 

Difficulty finding work 

One very noticeable impact of an economic downturn is a tighter labor market. When the economy goes into recession, many jobs will get eliminated, both in the public and private sectors. This can increase the number of applicants for every available position, resulting in a highly competitive labor market. This increased competition for jobs can undermine the power that employees have to demand adequate compensation, which can in turn place downward pressure on salaries and wages. 

Declining investments 

One common challenge that investors encounter during economic downturns is the impact that falling asset values can have on their net worth. When the economy goes into recession, the value of assets held by everyday investors, for example stocks and real estate, can decline substantially. This can undermine the value of their retirement accounts and also wealth they hold outside of these accounts, for example in brokerage accounts. When investors feel less wealthy, it can make them less likely to spend, something referred to as the wealth effect . This can in turn contribute to further economic contraction. 

Recession FAQs 

The length of a recession varies, from a matter of months to multiple years. According to IMF research cited in this piece, recessions typically last a year. 

Economists at the National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) officially declare US recessions. 

Yes, you can prepare for a recession by paying off debt, building up savings and also creating a diversified investment portfolio. 

Governments may respond to recessions by cutting taxes or spearheading other forms of economic stimulus in order to fuel expansion. 

Yes, there are different types of recessions, which can vary in terms of length and intensity. A depression, for example, is a severe recession. 

essay about causes of depression

  • Main content

Anxiety Disorders and Depression Essay (Critical Writing)

Introduction, description section, feelings section, action plan, reference list.

Human beings become anxious in different situations that are uncertain to them. Depression and anxiety occur at a similar time. Anxiety is caused due to an overwhelming fear of an expected occurrence of an event that is unclear to a person. More than 25 million people globally are affected by anxiety disorders. People feel anxious in moments such as when making important decisions, before facing an interview panel, and before taking tests. Anxiety disorders are normally brained reactions to stress as they alert a person of impending danger. Most people feel sad and low due to disappointments. Feelings normally overwhelm a person leading to depression, especially during sad moments such as losing a loved one or divorce. When people are depressed, they engage in reckless behaviors such as drug abuse that affect them physically and emotionally. However, depression manifests in different forms in both men and women. Research shows that more women are depressed compared to men. This essay reflects on anxiety disorders and depression regarding from a real-life experience extracted from a publication.

“Every year almost 20% of the general population suffers from a common mental disorder, such as depression or an anxiety disorder” (Cuijpers et al. 2016, p.245). I came across a publication by Madison Jo Sieminski available who was diagnosed with depression and anxiety disorders (Madison 2020). She explains how she was first diagnosed with anxiety disorders and depression and how it felt unreal at first. She further says that she developed the need to get a distraction that would keep her busy so that she won’t embrace her situation. In her case, anxiety made her feel that she needed to do more, and everything needed to be perfect.

Madison further said that the struggle with anxiety is that it never seemed to happen, but it happened eventually. She always felt a feeling of darkness and loneliness. She could barely stay awake for more than 30 minutes for many days. Anxiety and depression made her question herself if she was good enough, and this resulted in tears in her eyes due to the burning sensation and overwhelmed emotions. In her own words, she said, “Do I deserve to be here? What is my purpose?” (Madison 2020). Anxiety made her lose confidence in herself and lowered her self-esteem. She could lay in bed most of the time and could not take any meal most of the days.

Madison said that since the sophomore year of high school, all was not well, and she suddenly felt someone in her head telling her to constantly worry and hold back from everything. She could wake up days when she could try a marathon to keep her mind busy. However, she sought help on 1 January 2020, since she felt her mental health was important, and she needed to be strong. She was relieved from her biggest worries, and what she thought was failure turned into a biggest achievement. She realized that her health needed to be her priority. Even after being diagnosed with depression disorders, she wanted to feel normal and have a normal lifestyle like other people.

Madison was happy with her decision to seek medical help even though she had her doubts. She was happy that she finally took that step to see a doctor since she was suffering in silence. She noted that the background of her depression and anxiety disorders was her family. It was kind of genetic since her mom also struggled with depression and anxiety disorders. Her mom was always upset, and this broke her heart. She said it took her years to better herself, but she still had bad days. Madison decided to take the challenge regarding her mother’s experience. Also, Madison said she was struggling to get over depression since her childhood friends committed suicide, and it affected her deeply. She also told the doctor how she often thought of harming herself. The doctor advised her on the different ways she could overcome her situation after discovering she had severe depression and anxiety disorders.

After going through Madison’s story, I was hurt by the fact that he had to go through that for a long time, and something tragic could have happened if she had not resorted to medical help. I felt emotional by the fact that she constantly blamed herself due to her friends who committed suicide, and she decided to accumulate all the pain and worries. The fact that I have heard stories of how people commit suicide due to depression and anxiety disorders made me have a somber mood considering her case. In this case, you will never know what people are going through in their private lives until they decide to open up. We normally assume every person is okay, yet they fight their demons and struggle to look okay. Hence, it won’t cost any person to check up on other people, especially if they suddenly change their social characters.

Madison’s story stood out for me since she had struggled since childhood to deal with depression and anxiety disorders. In her case, she was unable to seek help first even when she knew that she was suffering in silence (Madison 2020). However, most people find it hard to admit they need help regardless of what they are going through, like Madison. People who are depressed cannot work as they lack the motivation to do anything. In my knowledge, depression affects people close to you, including your family and friends. Depression also hurts those who love someone suffering from it. Hence, it is complex to deal with. Madison’s situation stood out for me since her childhood friends committed suicide, and she wished silently she could be with them. Hence, this leads to her constant thoughts of harming herself. Childhood friends at one point can become your family even though you are not related by blood due to the memories you share.

Depression and Anxiety disorders have been common mental health concerns globally for a long time. Depression and anxiety disorders create the impression that social interactions are vague with no meaning. It is argued by Cuijpers (2016, p.245) that people who are depressed normally have personality difficulties as they find it hard to trust people around them, including themselves. In this case, Madison spent most of her time alone, sleeping, and could not find it necessary to hang around other people. Negativity is the order of the day as people depressed find everything around them not interesting.

People who are depressed find it easy to induce negativity in others. Hence, they end up being rejected. Besides, if someone is depressed and is in a relationship, he/she may be the reason for ending the relationship since they would constantly find everything offensive. Research shows that people who are clinically depressed, such as Madison, prefer sad facial expressions to happy facial expressions. Besides, most teenagers in the 21 st century are depressed, and few parents tend to notice that. Also, most teenagers lack parental love and care since their parents are busy with their job routines and have no time to engage their children. Research has shown that suicide is the second cause of death among teenagers aged between 15-24 years due to mental disorders such as suicide and anxiety disorders.

Despite depression being a major concern globally, it can be controlled and contained if specific actions are taken. Any person needs to prioritize their mental health to avoid occurrences of depression and anxiety orders. Emotional responses can be used to gauge if a person is undergoing anxiety and depression. The best efficient way to deal with depression and anxiety is to sensitize people about depression through different media platforms (Cuijpers et al. 2016). A day in a month should be set aside where students in colleges are sensitized on the symptoms of depression and how to cope up with the situation. Some of the basic things to do to avoid anxiety and depression include; talking to someone when you are low, welcoming humor, learning the cause of your anxiety, maintaining a positive attitude, exercising daily, and having enough sleep.

Depression and anxiety disorders are different forms among people, such as irritability and nervousness. Most people are diagnosed with depression as a psychiatric disorder. Technology has been a major catalyst in enabling depression among people as they are exposed to many negative experiences online. Besides, some people are always motivated by actions of other people who seem to have given up due to depression. Many people who develop depression normally have a history of anxiety disorders. Therefore, people with depression need to seek medical attention before they harm themselves or even commit suicide. Also, people need to speak out about what they are going through to either their friends or people they trust. Speaking out enables people to relieve their burden and hence it enhances peace.

Cuijpers, P., Cristea, I.A., Karyotaki, E., Reijnders, M. and Huibers, M.J., 2016. How effective are cognitive behavior therapies for major depression and anxiety disorders? A meta‐analytic update of the evidence . World Psychiatry 15(3), pp. 245-258.

Madison, J. 2020. Open Doors .

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IvyPanda. (2022, June 16). Anxiety Disorders and Depression.

"Anxiety Disorders and Depression." IvyPanda , 16 June 2022,

IvyPanda . (2022) 'Anxiety Disorders and Depression'. 16 June.

IvyPanda . 2022. "Anxiety Disorders and Depression." June 16, 2022.

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IvyPanda . "Anxiety Disorders and Depression." June 16, 2022.

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