Mental Health in the UK is slowly beginning to lose its negative stigma, with a number of celebrities, influencers and even members of the Royal Family opening up about their own experiences with mental health and depression – and encouraging others to do the same – slowly removing the taboo around the issue and helping a greater understanding of the causes of depression.

A number of high profile campaigns including Princes William and Harry’s “Heads Together” organisation, as well as a number of celebrity mental health battles over the last few years, has made depression – for many people – easier to open up about and therefore seek help for – but what is depression and what causes it?

Depression is one of the highest occurring mental health issues both nationally and internationally – affecting up to 1 in 4 adults in the UK at least once a year. Depression is not caused by one single factor and whilst we don’t know the exact causes, with reasons differing from person to person, there are a number of ideas as to why depression occurs.

Depression is defined by “a low mood that lasts for a long time” and is something that affects everyday life. Cases range from mild, when you may experience ongoing low spirits, to severe which can be life threating with thoughts of suicide. Cases vary from person to person, as well as the causes behind the issue and the type of treatment needed to improve quality of life and get back on the right track.

Research into both the causes and cures for depression are on-going, and whilst we have a good idea of many of the factors behind what causes the mental health issue, there is still a lot about depression that we don’t yet understand. From what we do know, there are a number of factors that appear to encourage the development, speed up the process or worsen depression in a range of different people.

A family history of depression, for example, can lead to increased risk of developing the issue yourself. Whilst various studies have pointed towards depression and mental health issues being hereditary, an increasing number of studies are now suggesting that some aspects of mental health issues can be learned from behaviours within the family.

Families – particularly those residing in one household – can function similarly to a single person, often but not always sharing moods, interests and also the way they react to different emotions, thoughts and events. The people we live with as we grow, helps to shape us as an adult – and our interactions at home are the foundations for how we will communicate, problem solve and react in the future. Parents who put a lot of pressure on their children, may find that their children put a lot of pressure on themselves and those around them, whilst families who resolve conflict through arguments, may find their children experiencing the same interactions later in life.

Perhaps most importantly, the family home is where you learn what is expected from you and therefore how to react to a range of different emotions. After secondary socialisation it is increasingly difficult to unlearn the things taught to us at an early age – and often your self-image is made up primarily of other people’s perceptions of you and your emotions.

Extended periods of hardship such as; unemployment, problems with drugs and/or alcohol, the breakdown of families, the loss of loved ones – they can all be contributing factors towards depression – and often they are events that cannot be avoided and come as a complete surprise. When life blind sights you with a period of difficulty, keeping on top of both our mental and physical health can be the first thing we disregard – often causing periods of grief and sadness to develop into long-term depression.

For many people personal factors are the catalyst in the development or worsening of their depression. Learning how to manage your emotions, and more importantly reactions, when faced with hardships in life can help prevent short periods of depression from developing into much longer battle. Well as seeking assistance from friends, loved-ones and professionals could help you to better manage the problems you’re currently juggling, allowing you a little more time to focus on feeling better.

Whilst we may never know all of the reasons behind what causes depression, research is always on-going and with a nationwide focus on improving both mental health awareness and services here in the UK, we’re learning more about the illness every day.

If you find yourself struggling with depression speak to someone. It is never too early or too late to engage in a conversation regarding your mental health. Depression encourages thoughts of worthlessness, as well as causing some sufferers to believe that they’re hopeless or helpless – and that nothing can make them feel any better. However, this is far from the truth, in fact the chances of recovering from depression after taking proactive steps towards improving your mental health are surprisingly high.

Whether you start by sharing your experience with a loved one, you head to your local GP or you log into our online therapy service – speaking to someone is the first step towards feeling better again.  Continue by making small, manageable, changes such as avoiding high sugar foods – which cause artificial highs and lows – or participating in some form of exercise three times a week can be the perfect way to begin your road to recovery.

Don’t settle for only feeling ok, those who suffer with depression, especially long term, can often find themselves feeling “ok” but still lacking happiness, therapy can be a great tool towards being able to experience the joys of life again. Contact us to find out more about our online therapy platform,.