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So What Causes Anxiety and Depression?

By August 15, 2017Good Health

There are several theories as to the cause of anxiety and depression, which centre on changes in brain biochemistry. In particular is the focus on brain ‘happy hormone’ levels in the development and/or perpetuation of anxiety and depression; namely serotonin, dopamine, and gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA). So what exactly causes changes in these brain biochemistry levels?

Some of the potential contributors to depression and anxiety include.

Long-Term Stress

It is thought that long-term stress alters the nerve pathways in the brain and lowers brain serotonin levels. This may come in the form of a specific traumatic event that has left an indelible emotional footprint that is yet to be resolved or ongoing cumulative stresses in your life.

Too Much Caffeine

Caffeine is a stimulant and is known to worsen anxiety symptoms. Reducing caffeine to no more than 1-2 cups of coffee or 3-4 cups of tea a day may help to reduce anxiety.

Lack of Sunlight

Some people are greatly affected by the seasons. Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is a recognised medical condition whereby individuals suffer lowered mood when they are not exposed to enough sunlight for prolonged periods.


Some people may be more at risk of depression because of their personality, particularly if they have a tendency to worry a lot, have low self-esteem, are perfectionists, are pessimistic, or are sensitive to criticism. Although personality cannot be clinically ‘tested’ as such, there is a blood test known as whole blood histamine that can examine personality tendencies toward depression and/or anxiety. The lower the number the more likely someone is to be susceptible to anxiety, and the higher the number the more likely someone will be susceptible to depression.

Poor Sleep

Sleep is needed for restoration of the body. Lack of sleep can lead to depression and anxiety symptoms. Sometimes it can be a vicious cycle as the less sleep you get the more anxious and/or depressed you can become, and the more anxious or depressed you become the less sleep you often get.

Alcohol and Drug Use

Drug and alcohol use can both lead to and result from depression. Many people with depression also have drug and alcohol problems. Over 500,000 Australians will experience depression and a substance-use disorder at the same time at some point in their lives.

Family History

We know there is a genetic link to the susceptibility to depression or anxiety. How strong this link is depends on the number of family members affected, but also depends on internal and external factors independent of family history. So just because a family member has depression or anxiety does not automatically predispose another family member to the same.

#healthyhabits #healthyliver

Dr Cris

Holistic Medical Doctor, Author ‘Healthy Habits, 52 Ways to Better Health‘ and Healthy Liver

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