The Biggest Cause of Anxiety and Depression

anxiety and depressionAn October 2013 study found that traumatic life events were the biggest determinant of anxiety and depression, beating out family history of mental health, income, education, relationship status, and other social factors.[1] More than two-thirds of all adults will experience at least one traumatic event in their lifetime, proving how influential life events truly are on the human psyche.1

In fact, researchers from three United Kingdom Universities analyzed the responses of 32,827 people to online questionnaires, finding that social deprivation and/or traumatic life experiences predicted significantly higher levels of anxiety and depression.[2] Traumatic life events often cause lack of adaptive coping, rumination, and self-blame.2

Anxiety is defined as a feeling of worry or concern about an uncertain outcome.1 Ranging from mild to severe, it is a debilitating feeling and hampers the ability to live.1 Anxiety can manifest in a variety of ways, including irritability, fatigue, poor sleep, and the inability to concentrate.1 These are all signs of an anxiety disorder, such as obsessive-compulsive disorder, social anxiety disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and panic disorder.1

Depression is characterized by low mood, loss of self-esteem, and loss of interest in normally enjoyable activities.1 Anxiety can also be an unseen accompaniment of a depressed mood, and while the emotional symptoms of anxiety and depression are quite well-known, few actually recognize the physical symptoms as well.1 Physical symptoms often manifest as headaches, muscle aches, nausea, fatigue, and appetite and weight changes.1 Many turn to alcohol and drugs to deal with their uncomfortable symptoms.1

Scientists look at the interaction between two receptors, CRFR1 and 5-HTRs, when looking for the exact mechanism that causes the stress of life events that lead to anxiety and depression.1 CRFR1 is a corticotrophin releasing receptor that is responsible for the anxiety response to stress while specific types of serotonin receptors lead to depression.1 The University of Western Ontario study showed that CRFR1 increased the number of 5-HRTs, causing abnormal brain signaling.1 CRFR1 activation leads to anxiety in response to stress, and 5-HRTs lead to depression, showing the pathways connect through distinct processes in the brain.[3]

Depression and anxiety often happen together in people who have experienced traumatic life events, and the reasons for both relate to these severely stressful experiences.3 Research to discover and block the pathways responsible for the link are underway, for better treatment and response.3

[1] Bundrant, M. (2014). Traumatic Life Events Are the Biggest Cause of Anxiety and Depression. Psych Central. Retrieved on January 7, 2014, from http://blogs.psychcentral.com/nlp/2014/01/traumatic-life-events-are-the-biggest-cause-of-anxiety-and-depression/

[2] Kinderman P, Schwannauer M, Pontin E, Tai S (2013) Psychological Processes Mediate the Impact of Familial Risk, Social Circumstances and Life Events on Mental Health. PLoS ONE 8(10): e76564. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0076564

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

We are the only facility in Florida owned and operated by an addiction psychiatrist involved in all treatment decisions. Learn more
Hello. Add your message here.