Depression is a serious mental health disorder and is characterized by a persistent low or depressed mood, feeling of sadness, and loss of interest in performing activities. According to the American Psychiatric Association, “Depression affects an estimated one in 15 adults (6.7%) in any given year. And one in six people (16.6%) will experience depression at some time in their life.” It may not possible to attribute the cause of depression to one single factor but keeping in mind the possible risk factors may help during treatment. If you’re curious to know what these risk factors might be, read on.
1. Genetic Factors
Research has found that genetic factors can contribute to risk of depression. Although people born in families with no history of depression may also suffer from it, studies have found that it increases the risk significantly. According to the American Psychiatric Association, “if one identical twin has depression, the other has a 70 percent chance of having the illness sometime in life.”
2. Biochemical Factors
Biochemical differences in the brain can act as a risk factor for depression. When the chemical balance in our brain is affected, it can take a hit on our physiological functioning. People who may have lower levels of serotonin or dopamine, may be at higher risk than others.
Certain aspects of an individual’s personality plays a role in depression. The American Psychiatric Association says, “People with low self-esteem, who are easily overwhelmed by stress, or who are generally pessimistic appear to be more likely to experience depression.”
4. Major Life Changes
A major life change, be it positive or negative, may act as a causative factor for depression. This may be because of the trauma linked to that change or perhaps because of an inability to deal with the new reality. Loss of employment, a new job, marriage, divorce, and retirement are some examples of life changes that may trigger the onset of depression.
5. Unhealthy Diet
It turns out unhealthy eating habits over an extended period of time may be a risk factor for depression as well. Felice Jacka, president of the International Society for Nutritional Psychiatry Research says: “A very large body of evidence exists that suggests diet is as important to mental health as it is to physical health. A healthy diet is protective and an unhealthy diet is a risk factor for depression and anxiety.”
Childhood abuse and neglect is another risk factor for depression. Apart from childhood abuse, physical, sexual, or emotional abuse at any stage of life can also cause depression.
7. Experiencing The Death Or Loss Of A Dear One
Losing someone close to you can cause severe shock and can be a risk factor for depression. It is essential to note that grieving someone’s loss and depression are not the same. According to the American Psychiatric Association, “When grief and depression co-exist, the grief is more severe and lasts longer than grief without depression. Despite some overlap between grief and depression, they are different.”
8. Painful Or Terminal Illnesses
An individual suffering from a serious illness that causes extreme physical pain may be at risk for depression if they are not receiving adequate emotional support. Dealing with the emotional stress and pain of a terminal illness may also lead to depression.
9. Lack Of Sleep
Several studies have found that sleep disorders may affect brain functioning which could potentially act as a risk factor for depression. Studies have also found that sleep disorder in patients who already suffer from depression could make things worse.
It turns out women may be more at risk than men when it comes to depression. It could also be possible that women with depression are more likely to come forward than men. The American Psychiatric Association says, “Some studies show that one-third of women will experience a major depressive episode in their lifetime.”
11. Addiction Or Substance Abuse
Many people resort to drugs or alcohol when they aren’t able to deal with their realities. Substance abuse and drug or alcohol addiction could cause changes in brain functioning leading to depression.
12. Side Effect Of Some Medication
It turns out that some medication can cause depression in people. These medications could include blood pressure medication, pain killers, steroids, among a few others. Ensure that you consult your doctor immediately if you experience this.