July 13, 2024

Endogenous Depression

Unlike other forms of depression, endogenous depression often develops without any obvious reason.  With no history of traumatic events or unfortunate life occurrences, the patient is suddenly overcome with lethargy or melancholy.  The feelings of depression seem to come out of the blue.

The word endogenous means “to come from within”.   When used in the term “Endogenous Depression” it refers to a kind of depression that comes from within the body.  Thought to be caused by biochemical changes within the patient, this form of depression often has uncertain causes.

Diagnosing Endogenous Depression

Previously, when diagnosing depression a psychologist would try to ascertain whether the person was suffering from reactive or endogenous depression.  Reactive Depression generally refers to a form of depression that was triggered by some kind of traumatic event or lifestyle choice.  Recently, this classification system has changed.

Formerly, psychologists used the classification to determine the form of treatment.  With reactive depression, they sought to treat the underlying cause that triggered the depressive disorder while patients with endogenous depression were prescribed medication to deal with the way their mind functioned.

In recent years, physicians have realized that medication has equal levels of effectiveness in both Reactive and Endogenous Depression.  Due to this, they will now treat both forms of depression in many of the same manners while still classifying them separately.

Symptoms of Endogenous Depression

Patients who have been diagnosed with Endogenous Depression will often have many of these symptoms:


  • Low mood
  • Hallucinations
  • Loss of appetite or change in eating habits
  • Inability to experience pleasure
  • Insomnia or difficulty sleeping at normal times
  • Agitation
  • Hopelessness
  • Delusions
  • Helplessness
  • Lethargy and inability to be motivated
  • Disinterest in normal hobbies or pastimes
  • Feeling of worthlessness

Each patient will have a different set of symptoms with different severity level for each, but if an individual has had several of these symptoms for an extended period of time – usually two weeks or longer – they may be suffering from Endogenous Depression.

A doctor will review the symptoms and perform tests to rule out any other causes.  There is no physical test that can determine if a patient is depressed, but by crossing off other possibilities, a doctor can reach the conclusion that Endogenous Depression is the problem.

Causes of Endogenous Depression

Endogenous depression is believed to be caused by someone’s physiological makeup or genetics.  By the very definition of endogenous depression there doesn’t appear to be anything in a person’s life to cause the depressive episode.

Many people may not be aware of the underlying disorder until the symptoms of endogenous depression become full blown.

Risk Factors for Endogenous Depression

Since it is generally attributed to genetics, a family history of depression is considered to be the key risk factor.  Like most forms of depression, the symptoms can be enhanced by behavioral factors such as low self-esteem, chronic physical illnesses, and high stress to name just a few.

The patient is often predisposed toward becoming depressed so if life events like a layoff, divorce or death occurs, the patient is more likely than his or her peers to develop a state of depression.

Contributing factors can include alcohol or drug abuse.  There exists a correlation between alcohol or drug abuse and depression – but not causation.  Although patients suffering from depression are more likely to abuse intoxicants, much of this can likely be attributed to attempts to self medicate.  This self-medicating often worsens the patient’s depression.

If the patient suspects that they may be suffering from endogenous depression, they should avoid alcohol and non-prescription drugs.

Treatment for Endogenous Depression

Since this form of depression is often attributed to genetics or family history, it is generally treated with antidepressant medications.  In general, the antidepressants work by increasing serotonin levels in the brain.  Serotonin is thought to work in the brain to produce feelings of happiness and pleasure.

By increasing this chemical, anti-depressants can help to alleviate symptoms of depression.  A side benefit of serotonin is that it enables individuals to sleep.  If the patient has been suffering from depression related insomnia, the addition of antidepressants can assist them in getting a full nights rest.

Further treatment often entails Cognitive Behavior Therapy.  Patients may have difficulties modifying the negative thoughts and attitudes that developed as they were depressed.  Cognitive Behavior Therapy focuses on ways to modify behavior patterns and thoughts so that they are more positive.

Man with DepressionEndogenous Depression, in many cases, develops due to inherent tendencies within the patient.  To better treat an individual, a doctor may prescribe a more holistic approach.  They may recommend a change in diet, exercise or lifestyle to alleviate ongoing symptoms of depression.  Some patients have had successful experiences with adding omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin B and folic acid to their diet.  Over time, scientists have discovered that these three nutrients can prevent depression or reduce symptoms if they are taken together.

Future bouts of depression may be able to be prevented by adopting a healthy lifestyle.  Exercise has been shown to increase the number of endorphins in the brain and positively impact the mood.  Current and former patients with endogenous depression can alleviate their condition by taking regular walks, doing yoga or hitting the gym.

Although finding the motivation to do things can be challenging during a bout of depression, it is a key factor in recovery.  Making social contacts, spending time with family and exercising can help reduce the incidence and depth and gravity of endogenous depression.

If this depressive disorder is left untreated, the feelings of hopelessness and melancholy may increase over time and result in a suicide.


Like most other forms of depression, endogenous depression is completely treatable.  Using psychotherapy or medication, the patient can completely alleviate their symptoms as long as they are willing to give it time to take effect.  Since endogenous depression is not caused by events in the patient’s life, they may have to maintain a focus on diet and healthy lifestyle factors after they recover to prevent the future possibility of depression.

Patients should always seek treatment from a doctor or trained medical professional.  Only a doctor or a psychologist can rule out other diseases as the cause.  After selecting an appropriate course of treatment, the patient can start on the road to wellness and return to enjoying life again.


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