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What is Endogenous Depression?

By Kathie Scheidler
Updated: May 17, 2024

Endogenous depression is depression that does not have a discernible cause. It is a type of mood disorder that can affect some people from the time they are born, and it is thought to be an inherited condition. Endogenous depression also is referred to as biological depression or genetic depression. Depression that is not endogenous is known as reactive depression.

Endogenous depression is generated by imbalances of serotonin or other neurotransmitters. It ranges from mild to severe. This type of depression comes in four distinct categories that relate to the person's thoughts, behavior, feelings and physical well-being.

The first category of endogenous depression is an impact on a person's thoughts. Its symptoms include forgetfulness, self pity, a pessimistic attitude and guilt. It also includes thoughts of self destruction, a lack of concentration and an inability to make decisions.

The second category is an impact on the person's behavior. Its symptoms include disinterest in work and routine activities, an absence of sex drive and lack of personal grooming. It also includes apathy and almost constant crying.

The third category is an impact on a person's feelings. Its symptoms include irritability, occasional temper outbursts, lack of motivation and feeling tired or worthless. The fourth category is an impact on a person's physical well-being. Its symptoms include difficulty falling asleep, disturbed sleeping patterns, body aches and prolonged fatigue.

Depression that is not endogenous is classified as reactive. Reactive depression is the result of a stressful or traumatic event in a person's life. An individual is reacting to a negative situation that he or she has experienced. Most doctors believe that this type of depression responds better to antidepressants than endogenous depression does.

Effective treatment for endogenous depression is achieved in various ways. One form is cognitive behavioral therapy. This type of psychotherapy involves taking distorted thinking and replacing it with substitute ideas. Exercise also can be of great help because it naturally releases endorphins, the feel-good chemicals in the brain.

Certain food items can be beneficial in alleviating endogenous depression. Fish contains omega-3 fatty acids and can help balance moods. Folic acid and vitamin B found in skim milk, yogurt, cottage cheese and eggs are also known to stabilize emotions.

There are several natural remedies for endogenous depression. Lemon balm has been known for many centuries to promote mental calm and relaxation. St. John's Wort is a natural antidepressant because of its active component, hypericin, which increases dopamine levels. Passion flower is used to treat anxiety and panic attacks. Virtually any treatment that increases the seratonin level in the brain will improve this form of depression.

WiseGeek is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Discussion Comments
By anon946563 — On Apr 20, 2014

Neither help. I was diagnosed aged four with my father having the same condition and nothing helps. Antidepressants can get an endogenous patient into a fit of rage (I destroyed my bedroom while on medication) and CBT increased the apathy/crying cycle. In the meantime, my father attempted to burn the house down five times.

By anon313075 — On Jan 10, 2013

Antidepressants help mostly in people suffering from endogenous depression and CBT is most helpful in those suffering from reactive depression. There is no harm trying CBT for those suffering from endogenous depression, but do not be surprised if it does not help.

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