More than 16 million American adults had a major episode of depression in the last year, and that figure appears to be growing. Symptoms of depression include sadness or depressed mood, fatigue, sleep disturbances, such as sleeping too much or too little, changes in weight, slow movements, aches, inability to focus, feelings of hopelessness, and thoughts of death or suicide. Anyone experiencing these symptoms consistently for at least two weeks should see a doctor. If you are having thoughts of suicide, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255. No one is immune to depression, but certain factors make it more likely. Here are the major risk factors for depression.
Your risk of depression is significantly influenced by genetic factors. If you have a parent or sibling who suffers from depression, you are more likely to experience depression as well. However, a family history is not necessary for you to have a depressive episode.
Big life events, sometimes even good events, can create a lot of stress, leading to depression. Common major life stressors include the death of a loved one, a divorce, losing a job, especially if you remain unemployed for a long time, buying a house, and having children. Normally, the sadness associated with negative events will dissipate after a few months, but sometimes it can lead to a depressive episode.
We’re constantly learning more about the connection between sleep and mental health. One recent study found that inadequate sleep over several nights significantly increased suicidal thoughts. Another more recent study identified an area of the brain linked to both sleep disorders and depression. Lack of sleep also impairs self-control, emotional regulation, memory, concentration, and mood, making you more vulnerable to stress.
A serious illness is a major source of life stress. There may be significant pain involved and in some cases there is no hope for recovery. Also, many medications prescribed for chronic illnesses, such as beta blockers for heart disease, have been found to cause depression too.
Abuse, whether by a parent or a spouse is a major cause of depression. People in abusive situations not only endure regular pain, humiliation, and anxiety, they also feel helpless to change their situation. Learned helplessness has been shown to be common in people with depression.
People are social creatures and they need to be around other people. Regularly feeling isolated and lonely can lead to depression. Unfortunately, people who become depressed tend to isolate themselves more, making the condition worse.
Women are about twice as likely as men to suffer from depression. This is partly from major hormonal changes around puberty, childbirth, and menopause. Women are also more likely to be victims of domestic violence, which further increases their risk.
Addiction is another major cause of depression. Substance use can cause major shifts in neurotransmitters, lead to chronic illnesses and eating disorders, and cause feelings of shame and helplessness. Also, many people become addicted in the first place by self-medicating their depression. As with isolation, depression and addiction only make each other worse.
If you’re struggling with substance use, Recovery Ways can help. We offer intensive outpatient treatment as well as residential treatment. Recovery Ways is a premier drug and alcohol addiction treatment facility located in Salt Lake City, Utah. Our mission is to provide the most cost-effective, accessible substance abuse treatment to as many people as possible. Request information online or call us today at 1-888-986-7848.