What Causes Depression?

depressed womanI have a theory about what causes depression, based on logic and my observations over the years.

I have long seen that people who do not express their Mars energy, aka their anger and ambition, tend to become depressed.  This makes sense because Mars (raw male energy), by it’s nature is overt. If it is repressed it can do nothing but pervert. Most commonly this manifests as depression.

Mars likes to go and do and win and conquer. When people are depressed they tend to feel lethargic and want to sleep all day. You see the correlation.  Some depression is anger, turned in on the self.

Saturn in combination with the Moon or the IC, in the natal chart or by transit has long been associated with depression, for good reason.  In 40 years of astrology, I’ve not seen even one person with a Saturn Moon contact, natally or by transit that has not dealt with depression on some level. But this seems to be of a different flavor than Mars-based depression… it’s cold.

I realize some depression has a physiological basis. I am talking about depression that might be treated without drugs. It seems if you can isolate the cause it would be easier to address the situation.

Here’s more on this:

Anger, Depression And The Expression Of Your Mars Energy

Do you tend to be depressed?  Can you define your suffering? What’s the astrology?

129 thoughts on “What Causes Depression?”

  1. definitely Moon-Saturn flavoured for me (I have Cap Moon inconjunct Saturn)

    my former roommate, it was thwarted Mars. She had Mars/Saturn conjunct her MC and had been unemployed for 9 months or so when she moved out. She is Cap Rising. There is no way a person like her could be anything but depressed when not working.

  2. I think it’s a bit of both for me. I get depressed when both when i’m stressed out and when i’ve been bottling up my emotions. I can shake it off during the warmer months when there’s more light, but not during the colder months. I have Mars in Taurus in the 12th square Saturn, and Moon in Capricorn in the 8th. Suppressing/controlling my emotions and not expressing my anger is pretty much second nature to me, for various reasons, which isn’t good for my Mars because it’s also opposite Pluto and so when the anger builds up, it REALLY builds up.

  3. I tend to get depressed but it’s usually from feeling a lack of purpose, just feeling like this life is pointless sometimes. I’m not sure what that would be related to in my natal chart. My moon is not aspected by Saturn. However, my Mars is in Gemini, and I walk a fine line between boredom and over-stimulation. It always seems like I’m trying to recover from (or react to) one or the other.

  4. Yuck – since early childhood. This stuff has been with me for as long as I can remember. I always like hearing stories of myself being a happy baby etc– or anything that is proof of good days because depression comes to cover you and it7’s hard to remember anything else.

    I have moon trine saturn. I have mars in cancer. It’s a double whammy – the DP of depression 😉

    And I’m not talking about random blues here…
    How hard it is to gain perspective for any length of time, or find a sense of humor. More later on this topic as I’m sure I have more to say. –
    Ironically, my name means “happy.”

      1. I have Saturn trine Moon in the natal chart. And an afflicted Mars H12. I have spent years of my life ‘depressed’ but I never felt it could be treated effectively by medication. I’m happy to not be depressed currently.

  5. I have Saturn squaring my moon/Jupiter conjunction, and I am all too familiar with that fiercely cold brand of Saturn depression & utter isolation. The worst part is that I cut myself off from contact – when I am depressed, I isolate and I can’t even express my emotions. I’m gripped by fear. My husband says that I build a wall around my heart, and that he needs to painstakingly dismantle it, board by board. The sad thing is that I build the wall over and over again, and I don’t know how much longer I can push him away.
    I wish I knew how to identify the cause of my suffering. I can’t work on it until I do.

    1. I have been trying to work with my draconic chart to figure out more about my “shadow” in order to effectively reconcile it. I always knew I didn’t relate to my (virgo) Mars and my chart has almost no fire. Well in my draconic I have a stellium with Mars in Aries and it looks like that may be part of the issue. I have slowly trended from depression towards anxiety over the last 15 years and now I’m trying to see how in the world to let it out more positively. I’m one of those people who has no idea what emotions I’m actually feeling half the time.

  6. I’ve flirted with it in the past. Neptune on Scorp ascendant is very sensitive…too sensitive. But in the past few years when saturn hit three planets in my 10th and squared my moon it’s just been an awful, prolonged struggle. Luckily I have copious amounts of pluto and can go deep and come back ok.

  7. I definitely do, especially as I’ve gotten older and things have become more and more bleak. This theory of a gimpy Mars really resonates with me. I have Mars conjunct Saturn conjunct the IC, I never learned how to tap into that “up and at ’em” Mars energy like I should have and as a result I am bereft. I’m quite the little defeatist. It won’t work out so why even try?

  8. Moon/Saturn or Venus/Saturn generally means that nobody loves you. So uh, yeah, why wouldn’t you be depressed?

    I generally tend to think that people won’t stick by me, or won’t once their life changes (they move out of town or something). This has gotten a lot better in the last few years, but I used to not be able to keep a friend group for more than a couple of years because everyone’s lives changed and then they disappeared.

    As for my family, none of my “nearest and dearest” like me much except for my mother, who smothers the hell out of me. We are emotionally dissimilar and that causes so very many problems. I want to get away, but I don’t think anything short of death could do that because she would find me even in witness protection. But on the other hand, who’s going to “be there for me” other than her? Who HAS to “be there for me” because she can’t move on the way my friends and exes can and have? I have given up on dating because I have the Persephone problem: I can’t have a mom and a boyfriend at the same time without Mom bitching that she wants to come first and how dare I pay attention to the boyfriend for 5 minutes, and the boyfriend bitching that I should dump my mother cold. It isn’t worth the stress. I am married to and parenting my mother anyway no matter what at this point (and unfortunately she needs more care than I can stomach to give), so she’s going to win whether I want her to or not.

    So, yes, I can define it quite well, thanks.

  9. Avatar
    curious wanderer

    Huh, I have moon conj. Saturn, but I’ve only had a couple of episodes in my life that I can point to as depression. I experienced what I believe now was an episode of diagnosable depression right after I moved away from home, and my then-boyfriend moved out of town within the same space of time. Leaving home was good for me, but I think all the change (also a new college) just got me. Then, I experienced about a month’s worth of expected depression around the time of my separation from my husband.

    I have, however, experienced a lot of isolation, where I won’t really connect with anyone, just spend lots of time in books or computer games. I was also pretty emotionally detached during my childhood, and have revisited that state here and there. Back to depression, Mars conj. Sun and exalted in Cap can’t be kept down. I may not be Miss Mary Sunshine, but I keep chugging along all the same. Who has time to be depressed when there’s a mountain to climb? 😉

    I do see these dynamics in my sister though. She has moon conj. Saturn in Cap, and a 12th house Mars. She has frequent struggles with depression, and I think a lot of it is a thwarted Mars.

  10. Mars conjunct Saturn in Scorpio square Sun/Moon. This can be fun in bed! If ever I can get into bed… and is basically no fun anywhere else, ever. Work cry work scream work… Blah.

  11. Mars in Aries, also my moon. In the tenth. I have a pervasive sense I haven’t accomplished whatever it is I’m supposed to be doing. Much of my chart is in the 12th house, so this ambition always seems foreign, I always think not everyone can be on top, there has to be little worker bees. And no mistaking, in my job I’m a little worker bee. I just wish I could leave myself alone and quit the internal (and infernal) pushing.

    1. I have to agree. Every time you turn the page, or listen to “new age” material, it’s telling you to seek what you are really “meant” to do. I have had this internal dialogue for years, and often think how can we all have the dream job? Who would keep the cogs turning? Right now people are clamouring with ambition due to the push for more and more education, however as you say, we can’t all be on top and in my profession at least, there is a stark imbalance between the pseudo ‘bosses’ and the worker bees. The dialogue comes externally as well, ie if you are not happy in your job, then it’s not the right job for you! How many people are truly happy in their jobs? We can”t all be self employed, doing teaching yoga or whatever. I think it would be way more helpful on learning ways to accept what we can’t realistically change.

  12. @gingercole………..

    no mars/saturn….. but i have mars in gemini sextile jupiter, and between that combined with my aries moon, RESTLESSNESS & boredom is without a doubt. i suffer from terrible anxiety.

    i dealt with depression severely as well in my late teens, but that was primarily my grief over my brother’s death, and all of my aries in my chart feeling rather suppressed. i had depression off and on for years, but my worst experience was when i was about 20 years old, i was at the lowest of the lows, and then what did i do? moved 3000 miles to california by myself. ha

  13. Both types, like a lifelong beast to battle. Saturn blues are really crappy. Mars makes me frustrated, powerless, self-destructive. Mars is easier to fix for me, I just DO something to feel effective and it goes away. Even if it’s just cleaning the house! The saturn kind is sticky, like a constant underlying hum of fear and dread. Feels unsupported, used, rejected, picked apart constantly. Ugh. Oddly, it helps me to let myself feel this to its max when it happens – tap into myself to feel supported. I feel strong each time I endure and bounce back.

  14. Avatar

    I have no Saturn-Moon aspect in the natal chart.

    There was however this one episode when I was in high school that definitely met the criteria for depression. I just checked the transits… transiting Saturn quincunx natal Moon, and it was just crossing over the cusp to transit my 6th – which is where my major stellium is. It was conjuncting both my Mars and Mercury at the time. Interesting…

    I also have a quite powerful Mars, at home in Aries (though softened by a trine to Neptune). I am not good at expressing anger and ambition, quite the opposite, I tend to let people walk all over me. So I guess that’s why I feel down and doubt myself a lot…

  15. My mars is in Cancer, which is its fall, but I feel it functions just fine here. I have a Sun/Moon opposition that makes a T-square to Saturn. Probably have some issues there, but not sure they create depression.

    Thinking back times that I have been depressed… it has been when I don’t feel in control of my home life. Umm, maybe that is a Mars in Cancer thing.

    With Neptune conjunct my ascendant, I might not even be qualified to talk about my own self with any clarity!

  16. Hmm, I have Aqua moon opposing Leo Saturn in 3rd and 9th houses T-squaring Scorpio Uranus in 11th house. Guess what, never been depressed in my life and never needed a shrink, never took any antidepressants – I simply never needed it. But i do have sudden paranoia/panic attacks lasting around 3-4 hours then I am simply exhausted (of heavy thinking/analyzing)and need a nap. And that is the best remedy, I wake up laughing at myself. I think we have to pay attention to the houses and signs as well. This erratic aqua energy in 3/9/11 houses overrides the classic interpretation.

  17. Note to Jennifer: re your relationship with your mom. Your Satrun/Moon energy makes you tend to believe you have no choice. “The stars impell they do not compell”(read that somewhere) . We can use the energy of our chart… instead of it using us. Once you know the energy that is triggering these feelings, you have the power to work with it and create what you want. Take your power back. That is the gift of astrology.

    I too have had a lot of depression with Saturn in my 1st house(in Scorpio)… “nobody loves me everybody hates me”. A lot of self criticim never feeling good enough. And Mars in Pisces definitely suppresses my get up and go energy (years of chronic fatigue and illness).

    Luckily I have a Grand Trine between Sun Mars and Saturn which gives me preseverance and tenacitiy (along with a Scorpio rising) and my Sag Moon brings me exuberance and joy just in the nick of time.

  18. Ive3 ad several severe episodes of depression, some linked to ill health, and some to problems with work and money – having a handicap it’s always easy to fall into debt and hard to get things moving again… once I have more work and they are moving I’m usually OK even if the work is a pain (Cap sun!).

    A NY psychiatrist I know is convinced btw that many cases of depression he sees are linked to respiratory problems and that is certainly true for me – I have serious ongoing sinus and related problems and have had since I was born. But my depressions are about more than that and can be very severe – both kinds. The cold Saturn kind is much worse as you lose all will to live and every minute feels like a year. I attempted suicide at 27 and survived by chance – that was triggered by a personal crisis – I’ve never had quite such a bad one since but come near enough. I’ve learned the different kinds and how to get through them… but some go on for months if not years, and I have to be very careful now to avoid stress as I’ve also been diagnosed ME/CFS which is closely related

    Not knowing my tob/rising, I don’t know if this is in my chart; but if Cancer is my rising (one of three I’ve narrowed it to for now) then I have Moon sextile Saturn. I also have Venus opposition Saturn for any birth time.

    If Scorpio or Pisces is rising, I’ve prob got Jupiter square Saturn, and Saturn trine Ascendant

    If Cancer is the rising, with the Moon sextile Saturn I also have Moon square both Jupiter and Saturn which I presume might help to push and pull me through?

    Boy this is complicated, I’m feeling my way in the dark! and probably talking bull. Have sent for some Parker LOL

    1. Thank you for saying you have ME/CFS. I just read CDC on it. I “had” CFS & thought I was over it but what I am is really good at managing my energy! I’m actually having a very low energy cycle right now & have been pushing myself to “get with it”! Not helpful. I’m semi-retired & Covid pushed me further into retirement. I’m doing surprisingly well & enjoying mucho slower social interaction, go,go,go lifestyle. (6planets in air) My Solar Return last year …when I saw it 3 years ahead, I thought “I Hope I live through this.” Pluto & Saturn on Cap Sun in 6 H. (Jan 10, 1950. 10 degree Leo rising.) Solar Return has 5 planets in 6H w Mars approaching Uranus in 10. Not a picnic either. So energetically lots of push. SO Helpful to consider in light of ME/CFS.

  19. I tend toward depression and it’s my moon square saturn. Saturn is also conjunct mercury and opposing jupiter conjunct leo ascendant, so theres at least a bit of balance(very important for a libra moon) but only if I use my mars.. in gemini trine saturn and sextile jupiter. I think, anyway. I wish I could really understand the source of my depression, the moment it started, but it felt like something that had been building up for a long time.. It’s something in my personality, I shut people out easily.

  20. moon/saturn/pluto.
    but really it’s like a tide that comes and goes and i can watch it rise and fall and know that it will pass again.

    and my pisces mars don’t help with the energy at all.
    though my new medications (namely, insulin) are helping quite a bit with that.

  21. Hello– do all women with Capricorn moons have to work so hard for their men? Or is that a function of Venus square Saturn? I have both, so of course it is depressing! Does anyone ever take care of us, or is it all give?

    1. Hi, moon in Cap — I too, have a Capricorn moon (opposite Uranus) and Venus square Saturn. I know what you mean about working for love (1st marriage – he really wanted a business partner, and I thought he was King Baby.) But an astrologer told me some 20+ years ago that the more I achieved in my career, the better quality man I would attract. And this did come to pass. Maybe if you put your love into your work, you won’t need to work for love. You’ll gain so much self respect you won’t have time for men who don’t nurture you.

  22. I just finished a Saturn Moon square and Pluto is still conjunct the natal moon.. decided whatever issues are going on, to press on.. and with Saturn in the 5th and Pluto at the end of the 7th, every antagonist has been coming out of the woodwork. The great thing about astrologie is that you get an understanding of what energy is affecting you and can float above it, have a sense of humor, whatever it takes. You’re absolutely spot on about unexpressed Mars energy.. whatever your dream is, or a part of it, dive in and even if it’s not perfect, or it takes more time than you think, just get it rolling.. that and getting physically in shape actually can turn it all around.. but you have to get to the point where you just don’t care what anyone thinks.. of course you care about people and love them all the more, yet if you decide to be your own best friend the rest falls into line..

  23. I have Mars exactly semisquare Saturn (from the 4th to the 6th), also Venus square Saturn (from the 3rd). My depression was mostly physiologically-based when younger — nowadays doctors would diagnose me with premenstrual dysphoric disorder. Now it seems to be more situational, tied in with my family all being dead, bad job situation (although I’m thankful I have a job) and social isolation, partly because said job hours make it impossible to meet people outside of work or have anything approximating a social life. I really value connection with people so it’s been tough. The depression is also tied in with chronic pain issues and resultant limitations. Saturn exactly quincunxes my Ascendant. I can see it in my chart, but don’t know the best way of actually fixing it, if it’s even possible. No Moon-Saturn aspect IMO as it’s too wide to be considered an opposition, 10 degree orb.

  24. Absolutely Virginia!
    Moon Mars conjunct in Scorpio here – so oscillate between complete discomfort of being in my skin (debilitated moon) and energy enough to master any challenge (mars rulership). Letting go of what others think has allowed me to focus on my mars through the years and so direct my energy untainted and powerfully.
    When Pluto conjuncted this point as a teenager I suffered depression enough to try to commit suicide. I am still here, but my family fell apart or rather, split into 4 directions around the globe.
    When I do not care for my mars, I can experience psychotic episodes every few years, but I am big now and so am far more aware of my tendencies and where I consciously place myself. I do not always get it right though, but have seen how, with every bad episode I come through, there is a gift of insight and understanding bestowed upon me.
    Also, I have had a relationship with a Aqua Saturn conjunct Moon man and with a Libra Jupiter conjunct Moon man…both unable to feed me and, I guess me unable to care for their moons – this moon taint thing is fascinating.

  25. “… but really it’s like a tide that comes and goes and i can watch it rise and fall and know that it will pass again”

    Yes that does get easier with time and age, and you have the memory of surviving similar great plunges into the abyss. On the other hand, when you *really* start to get old, it’s harder to find the opportunities (and the Mars) to drag yourself up yet again.

    My solution has been to do my best to avoid those situation which cause the great ‘downs’, though lack of money makes that hard. Getting involved with The Man again was taking a big risk for me… so far it has paid off and I just hope I will be strong enough to cut loose if the balance ever starts to go back the other way (as I know it could)

    One way of avoiding the kind of pain which comes form a broken love affair is to expect almost nothing of my main relationship, in terms of ‘support’ – I know from past experience that one can only depend on oneself, in the end, and I now don’t give hostages for the future. I’m my own support system, period.

  26. i have mars-flavored depression. moon-mars in leo. if i am in despair i’m like a cowardly lion.

    i can imagine the difference with a saturn-based depression.

    i’ve experienced numbing, float-through-life depression and i got out of that, i don’t think it will ever come back because i now know how good life can be, and i would fight for myself. whereas before i didn’t know what i was missing.

    i still get intermittent overwhelming despair, that just seems to be part of my MO, like i soak things up unconsciously like a sponge until it all becomes too much, and i gotta let it out lest i drown in it. maybe that’s saturn in 12th house.

  27. Well, this certainly resonates with me. Moon cj Mars in 12H Capricorn, sesquisquare my Saturn exact on IC in Taurus. I remember dealing with depression as a small child. This is clearly hardwired.

  28. Mine is generally Moon/Saturn in flavor. I have Aqua moon inconjunct Rx Cancer Saturn. But I use my Aries Mars/Jupiter to get out of it.

  29. And hey, would ya look at that! My son, who deals with depression as well, is Mars opposite retro Saturn. Huh.

  30. I have struggled with depression for a long time… and I attribute it to my Venus in Aries square my Mars/Saturn conjunction in Cancer. (All good aspects to my Moon, and the rest of the aspects to my Saturn are good too.) I want and value excitement and adventure, but really get satisfaction from being nurtured. Hard to find a relationship that can provide both (even the relationship with myself).

  31. I’ve learned that depression is anger that is not only repressed, its anger that one feels one does not have a right to have. Is that not Saturn or what!

  32. Well, you hit it (at least in my case).

    I can think of feeling depressed even when I was a child, though it wasn’t diagnosed as such nor was I cognizant of the fact that My feelings were different from those of many other kids.

    What about Saturn in contact to the IC *ruler*?

  33. I don’t know about depressed but suppressed, yes. I have a cappy moon and saturn conj. venus and I definitely suppress myself more than I ever really realized.

  34. I have struggled with depression since I was a kid. I remember being 10, riding the school but home and bawling my eyes out and not knowing why.

    Moon in Capricorn trine IC/Chiron; inconjunct Saturn. I also have Saturn square my IC/Chiron.

    I have a Jupiter-ruled chart and Jupiter is well-supported in my chart. I bounce back but I will never forget the years I was unable to.

    I have been dealing with another bout of depression for a few years now. Taking care of my health helps a lot. I think finally having a partner who is genuinely %110 supportive of me, emotionally, was part of the reason I had what in hindsight could only be seen as a breakdown (before I began therapy in 2010). I finally had room to breathe and I collapsed.

    I feel much better these days but I don’t take anything for granted–especially not my mental health.

  35. ((everyone)) I sometimes struggle with a deep, soul malaise. Nothing in this life that I can remember, but I have SN Scorpio exactly conjunct Saturn, so probably a hangover. I was born old and weary. Sometimes I cry thinking about the kind of cruel devouring world we are born into as innocent babies.

  36. I rarely get depressed my sister on the other hand seems to be depressed all the time course she was in an abusive relationship for 25 years that alone would depress me. Course I would not have married that person in the fist place. My natal Mercury and Mars are conjunct in the 8th . My Sun and Neptune are also conjunct in the 9th.

  37. I was born w/Virgo Mars in the 6th opposed Pisces Saturn in the 12th. My depression is characterized by “paralysis by analysis,” in which I second-guess myself and examine and re-examine all of my options before taking any action. Thank God for my Sag Moon — the centaur pulls me out of the mud (earth plus water) that dominates my chart.

    Saturn is the heavy in my family of origin:

    * Mom: Sun in Virgo opposed to Saturn in Pisces
    Moon in Capricorn

    * Dad: Sun conjunct Saturn in Pisces

    * Sister: Saturn in Aries in the 1st House

  38. I struggle. I have an afflicted 12H Cancer Mars opposite Saturn. I’m mindful, and I try to live a life of gratitude and purpose each day.

    … I don’t take anything for granted–especially not my mental health…


  39. Saturn conj moon in pisces in the 2nd house. Been deporessed on and off all my life, like a bottomless well of sadness. Ex husband used to ignore me when depressed, not helpful. I learnt to be ashamed of it. I didn’t even know it was depression until an ‘angel’ in a dream told me. It’s a life-draining, all consuming black cloud. I isolate myself from others and can last weeks, horrid. I also relate to the repressed mars type, i have mars just in taurus 3 degrees from an aries sun, if I’m not busy I fall deep into self sabotage, self loathing etc. It really is as if all that sun/mars warrior energy is directed inward…not healthy.

  40. Oh forgot to mention moon and staurn AND mercury are conjunct so a triplw whammy there, gotta laugh or i’ll cry, lol.

  41. yup I’ve had both types turn up now and then. my saturn and moon are conjunct in leo….and my mars is in leo. I’m not very good at using or expressing the leo energies.

    I don’t think I’ve ever been depressed enough to need mood stabilizers, but there have been periods where I probably could have benefited from a counselor or therapist

  42. I suffer from severe clinical depression, and I’ve got all the signatures.

    Scorpio Moon opposite Taurus Saturn. And Mars in Sag in the 12th house.

  43. PS Elsa, if you see this, could you expand on what you mean by the “cold” Saturn/Moon depression as opposed to the repressed Mars kind?

  44. I’ve been depressed before. The worst was probably ’84 to ’88. It’s a miracle that I didn’t kill myself.

    I was depressed one other time in 1999-2000. Even though life has been hard at times since 2000, I haven’t fell into depression again.

  45. I’ve struggled with the Moon-Saturn kind of depression. I think it’s caused by a cycle that I can’t break–I’m emotionally closed because I experience a lot of rejection, and I experience a lot of rejection because I’m emotionally closed.

    I would like to remove this aspect from my chart, please. 🙂

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