Endogenous & Exogenous Depression: Signs, Symptoms, And Treatment

Endogenous depression

For years the debate that is depression an outcome of genetics or external factors has been a focus for mental health experts. A few years back, the diagnosis was guided by the source of depression. If someone in family history had depression it was classified as endogenous depression. But if the external factors lead to depression it was referred to as, exogenous depression.

Although with time this concept faded up, findings suggested that by and large the symptoms, treatment, and impact of either of the diagnosis is the same, it was classified under Major Depressive Disorder only. However, understanding these two types of depression is still preferred, as it further aids in treatment.

So let us understand Endogenous and Exogenous Depression in detail.

Endogenous Depression: My Feelings Are Not Happy

What Is Endogenous Depression

Endogenous depression is a type of Major Depressive Disorder (MDD). Generally, it is diagnosed as MDD (clinical depression), instead of as a distinct disorder.

Symptoms of Endogenous Depression

Unlike reactive depression, the symptoms of endogenous depression can start showing up suddenly without any explainable reason. The way an individual shows these symptoms differ drastically. The symptoms of endogenous depression are similar to those of MDD. This includes:

  • Fatigue
  • Lack of motivation.
  • Difficulty concentrating, making decisions, and thinking clearly.
  • Persistent feeling of sadness or hopelessness.
  • Frequent headaches and muscle aches.
  • Change in the sleeping and eating patterns.
  • Prefer being alone.
  • Thoughts of self-harm.
  • Low mood most of the day.
  • Agitation and irritability.

Symptoms of Endogenous Depression

Treatment of Endogenous Depression

The best treatment approach for endogenous depression is a combination of medication and therapy. The therapies that are found to work exceptionally well for endogenous depression are:

Management of Endogenous Depression

Certain lifestyle changes and adjustments are found to bring relief in symptoms of endogenous depression. Often a therapist will also suggest you incorporate these changes in your life. This includes changes like:

Management of Endogenous Depression

Exogenous Depression: The World Outside is Not A Happy Place

What Is Exogenous Depression?

Exogenous depression is triggered by external traumatic life events. This form of depression is also known as reactive or situational depression. It does feel more or less like endogenous depression, it is just that the symptoms show after a stressful event. To know more about Exogenous depression, you can read here.

Exogenous Depression

Special Section: Endogenous Depression vs Exogenous Depression

Difference Between Endogenous And Exogenous Depression

The need of differentiating depression as endogenous and exogenous stems from the old belief that each depression needs a specific treatment. But with changing times the boundaries between endogenous vs exogenous depression faded away. Even the symptoms of both kinds of depression are more and less the same.

Factor Endogenous Depression Exogenous Depression
Origin Endo (Latin): From Within. Exo (Latin): From Without.
Meaning When someone’s depression is a result of internal causes (like genetics). When the symptoms of depression result from external sources (like a stressful or traumatic event).
Other Names Clinical Depression or Major Depressive Disorder or Biological Depression. Reactive or Situational Depression.
Treatment The medication works best here. Therapy is the preferred course of treatment here.
Range of Symptoms Wide. Narrow.


To put it in a nutshell, depression be it endogenous (genetical) or exogenous (situational), causes distress in an individual’s daily functioning, emotions, and thinking. That is why it becomes crucial to contact a mental health professional and seek treatment.

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