The causes of depression are confounding to researchers. Some researchers state genetics play a role in who might develop depression, some have identified non-genetic factors behind depression and there also have been cases with no identifiable cause. Read further to get a deeper insight.  

What is Depression?

Defining scientifically, depression, also known as major depressive disorder, is a mood disorder that makes you persistently sad or depressed, lose of interest in daily life activities, and causes several impairments in your daily life.

Most people feel constantly sad and depressed, along with feelings of helplessness, hopelessness, and worthlessness for weeks or months which keeps you from living your life. However, the definition of depression might vary from person to person based on their experiences.     

What Causes Depression?

Depression is a very complex disorder and is different for everyone. The reasons behind its cause are confounding to both doctors and almost 300 million people worldwide suffering from it (according to WHO). The cause could be genetic or non-genetic, but here’s an insight into the role both factors might play:

Genetic factors and Depression: 

Many types of research are going on to identify if genetics play a role in depression and if it could help to find out who might develop depression, to intervene and help beforehand but there haven’t been very substantial results just yet. 

There have been researches that suggest that heredity plays a role, for example, some studies have indicated that someone with a first-degree relative diagnosed with depression (a parent, sibling, or child) could be three times more likely to be diagnosed with depression in their lifetime compared to the general population, or that women are more likely to be diagnosed with depression than men, etc. 

There’s no denying the fact that genetics do play a role in depression but there’s no proof as to who in the hereditary pool might develop depression. As far as researchers know, it’s the interplay of genes and other factors (such as environment and trauma) that determine whether someone develops depression.

Non-Genetic Causes for Depression:

Like we said above, genetics is one of the several potential causes of depression. Other than that external non-genetic factors also play a major role in those who develop depression. The non-genetic factors include brain chemistry, brain structure, hormones, extreme stress, etc. 

That being said, there are depression cases without any clear cause to be pinpointed, which is why depression is a complex disorder. This is why the treatment for depression also varies. 


The fear of passing the “depressive genes” onto their children is very big in some people. However, you have to always remember that yes, depression can be genetic but it can also be non-genetic or it can develop without any cause at all. The research may be able to identify who is more susceptible to depression but that does not mean that they will develop it.

What’s important is to identify the symptoms in oneself or the loved ones and then seek the appropriate treatment.