Vanessa Bokanowski - Psychologist in Brussels

Depression and its many causes

Depression can strike at any time in life. It often appears for no reason, plunging us into a world of disturbing strangeness.

causes of depression - psy

We no longer feel like ourselves. It reveals itself to us insidiously, with its procession of symptoms: dark thoughts, loss of pleasure in our daily activities, no longer wanting to get up in the morning, sleep and eating disorders, but also social isolation. Relationships with loved ones are disrupted. We no longer recognize ourselves. What's really going on?

Unless it's triggered by a specific event, such as the loss of a loved one, an accident or trauma, depression is often linked to the past.

The aim of this article is to shed light on the multiple causes of depression. Depression can be linked to multiple causes, present or past. It may also be that a current event rekindles an old, poorly-healed depression. It creates a physiological disorder in the brain, which is always linked to a life episode that cannot be integrated into the psyche, and comes back as a symptom, literally consuming the individual and his or her resources. Psychotherapy is then necessary to understand the causes and free the individual from the weight of his or her affects.

Depression linked to burnout

Before opening this chapter, I'd like to talk about the difference between depression and burnouta diagnosis often confused by specialists. Burnout, unlike depression, is an illness linked to a difficult and unsatisfying work context.

the difference between depression and burnout

This is linked to long working hours, the constant pressure of losing one's job and ultimately having little time or leeway to find another.

Burnout can also reveal itself in work situations that are impossible to resolve, with the company failing to allocate the resources needed to carry out the mission, plunging the individual into a paradoxical injunction. 

Faced with these new challenges, the individual gradually becomes consumed and drained of strength. One morning, he simply can't get up to go to work. Anxiety overwhelms him and he finds himself at the end of his tether. He is literally consumed from within in an impossible struggle. Quick and effective treatment is required, and medication is often necessary. 

Psychotherapy must be added to this, to work on the causes. If possible, action should be taken on the work environment, but also to relieve anxiety and pressure. Burnout is more likely to occur in people who make high demands of themselves and are intolerant of failure.

Psychotherapist in Uccles - Brussels

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I am clinical psychologist and psychotherapist in BrusselsI specialize in depressive disorders.

Depression and bereavement

Depression can be linked to the loss of a loved one, a trauma, or something else in our lives that challenges our ability to adapt. Not everyone experiences these events in the same way, and this is linked to each person's resources. These resources and the ability to cope with grief and trauma are linked to the strength of our "deepest self" and, of course, our past.

depression following the death of a loved one

An individual who has grown up in a secure environment and thus acquired a solid foundation to build on, with parents who are supportive and grounded in reality, will be better able to cope with life's inherent difficulties.

On the contrary, an individual who can't rely on his or her resources, due to a less secure experience, will be more at risk, confronted with traumatic events.

Mourning can then go as far as collapse, leading to what is commonly referred to in psychoanalysis as melancholic depression.

The loss is unbearable for the subject, threatening his or her own integrity. 


First there's the denial phase, when you can't admit the loss of your loved one; the anger phase, "why did this happen? 

This is followed by the grief processing phase, when the bereaved talk to their loved ones, then the depression phase, with its inherent sense of sadness, and finally the acceptance phase, when the bereaved can assimilate the loss and rebuild their lives.

The melancholic subject is stuck in one of these phases. This can also sometimes be linked to conflicts with the deceased, leading to mourning tinged with ambivalent feelings, in a love-hate register, but this is not always the case.

Family depression: the narcissistic pact.

In the family circle, it's possible for the family to bond around what we in psychoanalysis commonly call the narcissistic pact. This is a joint depression shared by the entire family group.

Children are often the repositories of depressive affects that have not been processed by their parents, and which are linked to their own history. Indeed, a parent who has had a difficult past that has not been metabolized because it has not been integrated into his or her psyche can pass on this psychic content in a totally unconscious way to his or her children.

Narcissism - Wikipedia

Nobody talks about it, but you can sense that something is wrong: it's the narcissistic pact. A pact born of denial of depression, denial of the family's past, and which protects the whole family from a depressive experience that's impossible to work out. Parents who have lived through wars, difficult bereavements or conflictual relationships with their own parents. The child, being a little sponge, will sense this malaise and either become the family's nurse, depressing himself or herself, or, on the contrary, developing behavioral disorders linked to an internal malaise impossible to understand or elaborate.

In-depth work on the family group's unconscious issues will then be required to undo this pact and psychically liberate each member of the family group.