Risk Factors for Depression
National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) estimates that approximately 14.8
million Americans suffer from a major depressive disorder. Although depression
can affect anyone, certain factors may increase your likelihood of developing
Medical Risk Factors for Depression
is a type of mood disorder that some believe is triggered when brain
neurotransmitters are out of balance. Neurotransmitters are the chemical
messengers that help the brain and other parts of the body communicate. These
chemicals, including serotonin, norepinephrine, and dopamine, help regulate
many physiological functions. Experts believe that lower levels of these
neurotransmitters may play a role in why some people are more susceptible to
immediate family member with depression or mood disorders can increase your
risk. In fact, the American Psychiatric Association (APA) states that if one identical
twin is diagnosed with depression, the other twin has a 70 percent chance of developing
the same disorder.
depression can occur in people with no family history of the disease. That is
why some scientists believe depression can be a product of both genes and/or
problems are associated with
depression. Although experts do not know if lack of sleep causes depression, bouts of low mood do seem to follow periods
The pain and stress
that come with certain conditions can take a toll on a person’s mental state.
Many chronic conditions are linked to higher rates of depression. Some of those
are chronic pain, arthritis, heart disease, diabetes, thyroid disease, stroke,
and cancer. Others are multiple sclerosis, Alzheimer's disease, dementia,
Parkinson's disease, and Huntington's disease.
Social Risk Factors for Depression
People who were neglected or abused as
children are at risk for major depression. Such negative experiences can cause
other mental disorders as well.
are twice as likely to have depression as men. However, this may be due to more
women seeking treatment for their symptoms than men. Others believe
depression is caused by hormonal changes throughout life. Women are
particularly vulnerable to depression during pregnancy, after childbirth
(postpartum depression), and during menopause.
Lack of Social Support
social isolation, from having few friends or supportive relationships, is a
common source of depression. Feelings of exclusion or loneliness can bring on
an episode in those prone to mood disorders.
Major Life Events
Even happy events, such as having a
baby or landing a new job, can increase a person’s risk for depression. Other
life events linked to depression include losing a job, buying a house, getting
a divorce, moving, and retiring.
The death of a loved one is certainly
a major life event. Great
sadness is a major component of the grief process. Some people will feel better
in a matter of months. Others will experience more serious, long-term periods
of depression. If your grieving symptoms last more than two months, you should
see your doctor to be evaluated for depression.
Substance Risk Factors for Depression
In many cases, substance abuse and depression go
Drugs and alcohol may lead
to chemical changes in the brain that raise
the risk for
depression. It could also be that people with depression try to self-medicate with drugs and alcohol.
have been linked to depression. Blood pressure medication, sleeping pills,
sedatives, steroids, and prescription painkillers all have depression as a
possible side effect. If you are taking any such medications, speak to your
doctor about your concerns. Never stop taking medication without first
consulting your physician.
If you or someone you know is suffering from depression, it’s normal to want to
know what has caused it. The truth is that depression is a complex medical
condition that is still not completely understood. The good news is that
depression is highly treatable. And there are many sources of help and support
in dealing with the condition.