Confessions of a positively depressed person

Aaron Matthew Laxton, LCSW
5 min readFeb 16, 2020
Photo by Fernando @dearferdo on Unsplash

Have you ever felt broken? So broken, that no matter what you did or said, nothing would ever fix that brokenness? A lot of people do. An estimated 17.3 million adults in the United States had at least one major depressive episode. This number represented 7.1% of all U.S. adults. People of all ages and all racial, ethnic and socioeconomic backgrounds experience depression, but it does affect some groups more than others.

Causes

Depression does not have a single cause. It can be triggered by a life crisis, physical illness or something else — but it can also occur spontaneously. If you have survived trauma, this might be a regular narrative that is running in the background of your mind. It is an intrusive message that has been etched into your personality, which is reinforced by what other people say to you or about you. This message can be amplified in situations where you perceive that you have not lived up to your own personal potential. As a result, internally, this is seen as validation or reinforcement that what people say is true.

  • Trauma. When people experience trauma at an early age, it can cause long-term changes in how their brains respond to fear and stress. These changes may lead to depression.
  • Genetics. Mood disorders, such as depression, tend to run in families.
  • Life circumstances. Marital status, relationship changes, financial standing and where a person lives influence whether a person develops depression.
  • Brain changes. Imaging studies have shown that the frontal lobe of the brain becomes less active when a person is depressed. Depression is also associated with changes in how the pituitary gland and hypothalamus respond to hormone stimulation.
  • Other medical conditions. People who have a history of sleep disturbances, medical illness, chronic pain, anxiety and attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) are more likely to develop depression. Some medical syndromes (like hypothyroidism) can mimic depressive disorder. Some medications can also cause symptoms of depression.
  • Drug and alcohol misuse. 21% of adults with a substance use disorder also experienced a major depressive episode in 2018. Co-occurring disorders require coordinated treatment for…

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Aaron Matthew Laxton, LCSW

I am a psychotherapist who writes about mental health, addiction, recovery and the impact of substance use from personal experience. Views are my own.