What causes depression?

A number of factors are known to increase the likelihood a young person will experience a depressive disorder.

They include:

  • Stressful life events and social situations, for example relationship problems, family problems, loss of a loved one, bullying, conflict, relationship break-up.
  • Low self-esteem and a sense of helplessness and hopelessness.
  • Personality, certain personality types are at a higher risk of depression than others. This includes people who tend to be anxious, shy and perfectionists.
  • Physical factors such as not eating well, not getting enough sleep, substance misuse or abuse (drugs/alcohol) can influence feelings and reactions.

Sometimes the causes of depression aren’t obvious, it just happens with no obvious cause. Remember, depression is no-one’s fault.

Reducing the risk

There are ways to reduce the chance a young person will develop depression. These can be grouped together as individual, family and community.




  • peer integration
  • opportunities for engagement within school and community
  • physical and psychological safety
  • presence of mentors and positive support network.
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