What is the difference between endogenous and exogenous depression?
Last Updated: 09/05/2017 at 12:55pm
Polly Letsch, LCSW
Clinical Social Work/Therapist
I provide non-judgmental, person-centered, objective therapeutic treatment for individuals of all ages to improve social, emotional, mental and other areas of functioning.
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The idea was that there was a difference between depression precipitated by life events, called exogenous depression, and depression that was inherent to the patients' physiology, referred to as endogenous depression.
Endogenous depression comes from "within" i.e. it is not triggered by external factors. It diagnosed as a mood disorder also known as clinical depression. It is a combination of genetic, biological, psychological and environmental factors. Exogenous depression can be caused by external factors, triggered by some events in one's life. There might also not be any apparent or perceivable cause of exogenous depression.
For individuals with endogenous depression, symptoms often appear “out of nowhere” and for seemingly no reason. Endogenous depression is characterized by feelings of guilt and worthlessness and anhedonia. Anhedonia is the inability to derive pleasure from once pleasurable activities such as exercise, hobbies, or sex. Although there is a significant amount of overlap between the two types of depression, the exogenous form is usually triggered by a highly stressful situation. It most often lacks physical symptoms such as changes in sleeping or eating habits. Although stressful events often precipitate both types of depression, people with the endogenous form are more likely to relapse than those whose depression is more reactive in nature. One British study done in the 1990s found that, for those incurring a second depression, 70 percent with reactive depression had encountered severe stress shortly before their ?relapse. And only one third of those in the endogenous group had.
Endogenous depression comes from "within" you, and resulted from chemical imbalances in your brain (i.e. not enough or too much of various types of neurotransmitters). Exogenous depression originates with external sources, such as a bad break-up. Both of these terms can be misleading because seldom are mental health problems either/or, but they contain elements both both.
exogenous depression can be caused by life events,but endogenous depression is something that was inherent to the patients' physiology, everyones depression and the symptoms vary from person to person
My understanding of this, based on talking with my psychiatrist, is that exogenous depression is sometimes called situational depression. That refers to life issues (relationship problems, work stuff, family things, etc). Usually but not always resolution of those issues leads to recovery. Endogenous depression can overlap with exogenous depression but it is thought to primarily reflect brain function. A combination of medication (this depends) and approaches like CBT and mindfulness/meditation methods can be highly effective in recovery from endogenous depression - this has been my experience.
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