As the joke goes, a man visits his doctor. “Doc,” he says, “I’m feeling kind of blue.”
“Tell me more,” says the doctor.
“Well,” says the man, “just this week I got fired from my job, I found out my wife was cheating on me, my 15-year-old flunked out of school and started selling drugs, my daughter is pregnant, my dog died, my car got wrecked, I’m being sued, and my house burned down.”
“Hmmm…” says the doctor. “This sounds like a classic case of serotonin deficiency to me. I prescribe Prozac.”
There is a running debate as to whether people are depressed due to what’s going on in their lives (“situational depression”), or whether it’s simply a matter of brain chemicals (“endogenous depression”). Ultimately, it works both ways. Our situations and how we perceive them create certain feelings and emotions, which in turn lead to an imbalance in brain chemicals. And an imbalance in brain chemicals leads to certain feelings and emotions, which in turn effect the situations we put ourselves in. You see the way they feed off each other. You see how it can form a vicious cycle. So while the original trigger for depression may have been either situational or endogenous, depression often evolves into a complex combination of the two, where the one feeds off the other and vice versa.