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January 5, 2012

Surprising Risk Factors for Depression

In a given year, nearly seven percent of the u.s population battles depression. What makes a person more susceptible to this mental illness? It's important to understand that clinical depression is a condition that can affect anyone at any age. Research has uncovered several factors that seem to increase a person's risk of developing depression. Being female is one of the biggest risk factors. Women are twice as likely to be diagnosed with depression as men. This may be due to a number of factors ranging from severe premenstrual syndrome, to being pregnant and giving birth, to going through the hormonal changes of menopause. Additionally, depression most often manifests in a person's late 20s or early 30s. No matter their age, though, depression occurs more frequently in people with the condition in their immediate families. A family history of other mental illnesses, including alcoholism and eating disorders, may also contribute to risk. External, environmental factors have been shown to increase an individual's risk of major depression, as well. Some examples include early childhood trauma, like losing a parent, or being physically or sexually abused. Severe adulthood stress affects risk, too. For example, people unemployed for six months or more are three times as likely to develop depression. Those who are divorced, separated, and cohabiting are also more likely to be depressed than their single and married peers. And adults with chronic illnesses, like hiv, cancer, and heart disease, are more likely to become depressed, too. One surprising risk factor for depression is living in an urban area. City dwellers may have twice the rates of the condition as those living in the country. Unsurprisingly, people who live in poverty also have higher rates of this mental illness. Foreign substances in the body are yet another risk factor for depression. People who smoke have higher rates of the illness, as do people who abuse alcohol. And some prescription drugs-like sedatives and pain medications, may also cause depression, like symptoms. Remember, no matter what causes depression, the condition is highly treatable. If you have concerns about depression, make an appointment with a health care provider.

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Last Updated:
December 20, 2012