What Is Endogenous Depression? - Definition, Symptoms & Treatment

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  • 0:00 What is Endogenous Depression?
  • 0:52 Symptoms
  • 1:42 Treatment Options
  • 3:05 Lesson Summary
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Instructor: Danielle Haak

Danielle has a PhD in Natural Resource Sciences and a MSc in Biological Sciences

Endogenous depression is believed to be caused by genetic or biological reasons, rather than external stressors like the surrounding environment. Learn about the symptoms and treatment of this type of depression.

What is Endogenous Depression?

It's believed that some people are born with an underlying disposition that makes them more vulnerable to bouts of depression. When this type of depression occurs, it's classified as endogenous depression, because it's genetic or biological in nature. Consider it in contrast to exogenous depression, which is primarily a result of things going on in the world around a person.

For instance, people with endogenous depression may not have any idea why they suddenly started feeling melancholic. There might not be any reasons for the depression, yet they can't shake it. In contrast, exogenous depression is usually triggered by a particularly stressful event and subsides when that event or environment passes. An example of this would be recovering from the breakup of a romantic relationship.


Depression manifests through a number of different symptoms. A person may experience a lack of interest and may not feel joy in the things he or she used to. This is called anhedonia and is usually accompanied by feelings of fear, guilt, hopelessness or worthlessness. The person may experience fatigue and a lack of energy, not wanting to do the things they'd normally find enjoyable.

People with endogenous depression may have trouble concentrating and suffer from unpredictable mood swings. Often, they will isolate themselves and not want to spend a lot of time with family or friends. They may experience sleep issues, either sleeping too much or too little, and they might find themselves eating more or less then they typically do. Some cases of depression also come with suicidal thoughts or feelings.

Treatment Options

What are the different treatment options available for depression? You might think that a depressive episode with no identifiable cause would be hard to treat, but that isn't quite the case. Medication is usually among the first forms of treatment used for people suffering from depression. Commonly prescribed medications include selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), which work by binding to the receptors in the brain that serotonin would bind to. This allows more serotonin, a natural feel-good hormone, to accumulate in the brain, providing a greater overall sense of well-being.

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