Depression may have an obvious external cause, such as the death of a loved one. It may follow a viral infection, childbirth, or be caused by chemical imbalances in the body These may occur naturally—for example, due to an underactive thyroid gland—or result from taking prescribed drugs, such as the contraceptive pill or sleeping pills, or from drug or alcohol addiction. Periods of depression may alternate with impulsive, energetic behavior—a condition known as manic depression. There is an affliction called seasonal affective disorder (SAD), in which people become depressed in winter, possibly due to insufficient sunlight.
More often, however, depression is a spiritual problem, involving a negative attitude to life that leads to feelings of fear, anger, guilt, and frustration, possibly accompanied by a sense of persecution, loneliness, and hopelessness. Severely depressed people may become suicidal, or experience delusions. Long-term depression may result from childhood trauma such as the death of a parent.
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