Seasonal affective disorder
The causes of depression are not fully known. Most likely a combination of genetic, biologic, and environmental factors are at work.
Because depression runs in families, and has a strong genetic component, compelling evidence suggests that depression is a biologic phenomenon. Data from family, twin, adoption, and genetic studies have confirmed this. Studies have found that close relatives of patients with depression are two to six times more likely to develop the problem than individuals without a family history.
Evidence supports the theory that depression has a biologic basis. The basic biologic causes of depression are strongly linked to abnormalities in the delivery of certain key neurotransmitters (chemical messengers in the brain). These neurotransmitters regulate mood and associated behaviors. Scientists hope that by identifying the gene mutations that code the regulation of these neurotransmitters, they may eventually be able to predict which patients are most likely to respond to specific antidepressant drugs.
The degree to which these chemical messengers are disturbed is determined by other factors, such as light, structural abnormalities in the brain, sleep disorders, or genetic susceptibility. For example, researchers have identified a defect in the gene known as SERT, which regulates serotonin and has been linked to depression.
Reproductive Hormones. In women, the female hormones estrogen and progesterone most likely play a role in depression.
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