8 Most Common Depression Triggers

There are several types of depression, including major depressive disorder, seasonal affective disorder, manic depression, and postpartum depression, among the rest. Unlike the common misconception that only stressful situations cause depression, this mental condition can affect anyone even when their life is going well. The following is a list of some causes of depression, apart from stress:

  • Genetics
  • Physical health issues
  • Adverse effects from medication
  • Dysfunction in the brain chemistry

When there are signs of depression, one might encounter a situation that triggers the condition. Most often, these are negative events in one’s life. Below, we’ll observe the most common ones, but if you find it difficult to identify depressive episode triggers in your particular situation, you can easily seek medical attention or contact a therapist.

Get diagnosis and treatment for depression online at EZCare Clinic.

What Triggers Depression

As was said above, the triggers of depression are mainly bad events in one’s life. Although positive changes are the source of the trigger, they are very few. The following are the prevalent sources of depression episode triggers.


Also known as grief and loss, bereavement can easily trigger depression. The symptoms of this tricker can be challenging to note since they are similar to the typical feeling and reaction to loss.

Different people handle grief differently. Factors such as age, personality, the relationship with the deceased, state of mind, and life experiences affect how various people handle certain losses. Grief can manifest in various symptoms such as:

  • Lack of sleep
  • Anger
  • A depressed mood
  • Substance abuse
  • Changes in the immune system
  • Anxiety

When these symptoms prolong, doctors classify them as complicated grief, which often triggers depression.


Human beings have a primal need for acceptance, approval, and affirmation. These needs grow more with people with whom one has formed a close relationship, such as parents, siblings, lovers, friends, or colleagues. Lack of these innate needs often breeds rejection or social exclusion. Most people, especially those with low self-esteem, can be easily stressed by rejection. When it comes to social exclusion, one can be sensitive to rejection—have a high rejection sensitivity. People with high rejection sensitivity will notice the subtle rejection cues, which can lead to withdrawal, depression, and anxiety. People with a history of depression are most likely to have high rejection sensitivity. Therefore, social alienation can easily lead to triggered depression.


Studies have shown that more than 70 percent of depressed people have stress-related hormonal changes. Stress is depression kryptonite. It releases a hormone known as cortisol, which leads to physical alterations of the brain cells. In the long run, the size of one’s hippocampus can change due to changes in brain cells.

Stress can also lead to the release of cytokines. Cytokines are chemicals found in the immune system. These are often associated with clinical depression. When exposed to high levels of psychological stress, one’s immune system will produce cytokines that affect the brain tissues and trigger depression.


Doctors have found that illnesses contribute to about 15 percent [1*]  of depression cases. The trauma that comes with a diagnosis of life-threatening diseases such as cancer and HIV/AIDS can trigger depression.

Other illnesses such as hypothyroidism or infectious mononucleosis can bring depressive signs and symptoms. Some medications, like certain types of antibiotics or hormonal drugs, can cause adverse side effects like depression, bipolar disorder, and other mental conditions.

The connection between depression and illnesses goes deeper. Depression affects one’s immune system. Therefore, suffering from depression can lead to the development of some diseases and result in a relapse of an illness. Before taking medication, one should be aware of all its side effects. If depression is one of the side effects, one should ask for an alternative medication.

Contact licensed mental health professionals to manage stress and learn healthy coping mechanisms.

Lack of Sleep

One of the most common risk factors for depression is changes in sleep patterns. Lack of sleep or sleeping excessively is often associated with clinical depression.

Research shows that lack of sleep increases the chances of depression by four times. Sleeping for less than six hours has been shown to increase the risk of developing depression by up to 38% in teenagers and adolescents. Most cases of insomnia in the adolescent gap are self-imposed, making it a depression trigger.

Financial Challenges

People with low household incomes have been found to have depression and other mental health conditions more than those who are well financially. A decrease in income poses tremendous challenges, leading to stress and anxiety, which are triggers of depression.

On the other hand, depression itself can worsen the financial situation of the affected patient, and it becomes one endless vicious cycle. However, receiving treatment for depression puts an end to this cycle. With treatment, one will cope with stress, concentrate on their job and related goals, and subsequently beat the money problems.

Changes in Life

Changes in habits can bring stress. A change as good as a job promotion or bad as a divorce or a break-up modifies the dynamics of one’s life. Adjusting to new circumstances results in stress, which triggers depression. Adjusting to new circumstances results in stress, which is one of the key depression causes.

The best way to prevent adjustment disorder is to anticipate major life changes, prepare for them, and possibly discuss the expected changes with a therapist or a significant other. This way, one will not be caught off-guard and overwhelmed by the adjustments.

Substance Abuse

Depression and substance use are closely connected since they share symptoms and risk factors. However, substance abuse can cause physical alterations in the brain cells. The alterations create addiction, which has symptoms similar to depression.

Self-medication can easily lead to addiction and depression. Having both conditions, comorbidity, at the same time, is life-threatening. It can be challenging to treat addiction or depression separately; the two have to be treated simultaneously.

How to Manage Depression Triggers

Some of the triggers for depression can easily sneak on someone if they are not keen. Awareness of what triggers depression makes one identify the symptoms earlier and seek professional help before the conditions get severe.

Even though some triggers, such as chronic illnesses, cannot be foreseen, one can manage the stress and reduce the risk of depression. Seeking professional help and advice in the event of an overwhelming life change helps minimize the severity of the stress. Self-medication should not be the solution when one notices symptoms of depression.

Summing Up

Life is bound to change now and then. Although some of these changes are positive, some are also negative. Positive and negative events in one’s life can trigger depression. Although the information on social media on depression and mental disorders can be an eye-opener and answer some questions on mental health, it can also be untrue. The safest option is to seek professional help when one notices depression or mental condition


+1 sources
  1. What causes depression? (2022)
    Source link

Real help for Depression. Beat your symptoms with our expert advice.

Get Depression Treatment
Get Your Treatment Now

Evidence Based

This article is based on scientific evidence, written by experts and fact checked by experts.

Our team of experts strive to be objective, unbiased, honest and to present both sides of the argument.

This article contains scientific references. The numbers
in the parentheses (1, 2, 3) are clickable links to peer-reviewed scientific papers.