There is no single cause of depression. Also, different types of depression may have different causes. There are many reasons why a woman may have depression:
- Family history. Women with a family history of depression may be more at risk. But depression can also happen in women who don’t have a family history of depression.
- Brain changes. The brains of people with depression look and function differently from those of people who don’t have depression.
- Chemistry. In someone who has depression, parts of the brain that manage mood, thoughts, sleep, appetite, and behavior may not have the right balance of chemicals.
- Hormone levels. Changes in the female hormones estrogen and progesterone during the menstrual cycle, pregnancy, postpartum period, perimenopause, or menopause may all raise a woman’s risk for depression. Having a miscarriage can also put a woman at higher risk for depression.
- Stress. Serious and stressful life events, or the combination of several stressful events, such as trauma, loss of a loved one, a bad relationship, work responsibilities, caring for children and aging parents, abuse, and poverty, may trigger depression in some people.
- Medical problems. Dealing with a serious health problem, such as stroke, heart attack, or cancer, can lead to depression. Research shows that people who have a serious illness and depression are more likely to have more serious types of both conditions. Some medical illnesses, like Parkinson’s disease, hypothyroidism, and stroke, can cause changes in the brain that can trigger depression.
- Pain. Women who feel emotional or physical pain for long periods are much more likely to develop depression. The pain can come from a chronic (long-term) health problem, accident, or trauma such as sexual assault or abuse.