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What is Endogenous and Exogenous Depression : Causes, Signs & Meaning

January 18, 2022

6 min read

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Author : United We Care
What is Endogenous and Exogenous Depression : Causes, Signs & Meaning


Mental health experts have been debating the origins of depression for years if it is due to genetics or external factors. Endogenous depression takes place when someone in the family suffers from depression. In contrast, depression triggered by external factors is called exogenous depression.

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The symptoms of depression show up in a variety of ways. When a person is not interested in the things they enjoyed earlier, it might be due to a lack of joy or interest in doing them. 
Anhedonia is a condition that causes a person to lose interest in activities they previously enjoyed and makes them lose their ability to feel pleasure. The feeling of anhedonia includes feelings of guilt, hopelessness, and worthlessness. It is not uncommon for an individual to feel tired and rundown. They often do not find interest in engaging in activities they usually enjoy.
In the early 1980s, depression was either classified as endogenous or exogenous. There were two types of depression: depression triggered by life events, termed an exogenous depression, and depression resulting from the patient’s physiology, termed endogenous depression. 

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What is Exogenous depression?

Exogenous depressions are triggered.
A traumatic event can cause exogenous depression or reactive depression. Exogenous depression comes from the Latin word “exogenous”, which means growing by adding something from outside. Exogenous depression is also called situational or psychogenic or reactive or situational or neurotic depression. 
Exogenous depression describes a disease or symptom that originates outside the body in psychiatry. Most people suffering from exogenous depression have gone through significant stress that triggers their illness. There are many traumatising experiences that people experience in their lives, such as sexual harassment, the death of a loved one, divorce or separation, and exposure to violence. 
Exogenous depression, referred to in the research, is not caused by physiology but rather by life circumstances and, therefore, does not respond to antidepressants. As a result, they needed therapy. Endogenous and exogenous depression are not only distinguished by their symptoms; but also by their assumed causes. Thus, people believed that depression triggered by death or grief would not respond to antidepressants because it was exogenous, not physiological.

Symptoms of Exogenous depression:

  1. Feeling sad after the death of a loved one.
  2. Feel guilty after losing a job.
  3. Not exhibiting the physical signs of depression, like depression-related sleep problems or changes in appetite.

If a person is suffering from exogenous depression, they will feel persistently sad after the death of a loved one or guilty after losing their job. There are people with exogenous depression who do not always exhibit the physical signs of depression, like depression-related sleep problems or changes in appetite.

  1. Adolescence
  2. Conflict in marriage
  3. Conflicts over finances
  4. Childhood and adolescence
  5. Parental separation or family conflict
  6. Problems at school or changing schools
  7. Trauma, illness, or death in the family
  8. Issues related to one’s health, the health of one’s partner, or the health of dependent children.
  9. Death or loss of a loved one is a personal tragedy.
  10. Loss of employment or unstable employment conditions, such as corporate takeovers or redundancies.

Treatment of Exogenous depression

There is no guarantee that patients with exogenous condition depressed states will respond to psychotherapy. Most of them are mentally ill or neurotic. The process should consider the patient’s relationship to other people, awaken in him the dormant sense of responsibility and assist him in developing self-discipline. 

What is endogenous depression?

Endogenous depressions are not triggered.
Melancholia is an atypical mood disorder sub-set of major depressive disorder (clinical depression). Genetic and biological factors might be contributing factors. 


In the past, endogenous depression has been synonymous with melancholia. Paul Julius Möbius, a Leipzig neurologist, proposed the term ‘endogenous’ into existence to describe incurable psychiatric illnesses or inborn illnesses. It is a matter of historical steadfastness that melancholia is preferable to endogenous depression. 
Endogenous depression is also called Major Depressive Disorder or Clinical Depression, or Biological Depression. Considering the patient’s symptom history, diagnose  Endogenous depression. They show the classic picture of retardation in acting and thinking and appear to be profoundly unhappy. The clinician/therapist will consider the patient’s physical signs like ageing and factors like disturbance of sleep, weight loss. 
It is essential to carefully evaluate the patient’s complaint to differentiate them from other conditions. Listening to the patient’s complaints and cautiously evaluating the pathology manifestations helps the physician gain significant insight into the patient. But the clinician must be careful not to misinterpret his self-deprecating experiences as causes, reasons, or purposes of these disorders. The effect of thought and behaviour disorder accompanies the condition of physiological functioning  In an endogenous depression.

Symptoms of Endogenous depression:

  1. Experience prolonged symptoms of sadness and distress.
  2. Experience extremely intense pressure in the breasts (but rarely in the abdomen or the head).
  3. Older adults have these.
  4. I was not feeling emotional and unhappy.
  5. Unable to respond.
  6. It is impossible to do their everyday work or do it as usual.

Individuals show different cognitive, biological, environmental, or social changes. Patients often experience prolonged symptoms of sadness and distress. 
Most commonly seen in older adults. Therefore, biologically-focused treatment plans are frequently used in therapy to ensure the best outcome. 
Patients experience extremely intense pressure in the breasts (but rarely in the abdomen or the head) 
Patients can’t do their everyday work or do it in the usual manner.
Occasionally, we hear from patients who say they do not feel sad, but instead, they are not feeling emotional and are unhappy because they cannot respond.

Causes of Endogenous depression:

  • Internal – Biological, Cognitive
  • External factors – Environmental, Social


Patients with endogenous depression responded well to Electroconvulsive Therapy (ECT). The second line of treatment is monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs) and tricyclic antidepressants (TCAs). Psychoanalytic therapy is an effective treatment for some patients. Close supervision is vital to consider suicide’s danger in patients with endogenous depression.


At United We Care, we offer you a wide range of solutions. In addition, you can approach a psychologist or life coach for support. 
It is essential to break the stigma around depression and get the help you have always wanted. Break the cycle of depression and start your self-care journey now! 


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Author : United We Care

Founded in 2020, United We Care (UWC) is providing mental health and wellness services at a global level, UWC utilizes its team of dedicated and focused professionals with expertise in mental healthcare, to solve 2 essential missing components in the market, sustained user engagement and program efficacy/outcomes.

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