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What Are the Risk Factors for Developing Depression

Two people sit in the photo, neither have their faces viewable. The one in the front is holding a clipboard and the one in the back is in a pink shirt, on a couch with arms crossed.

Depression is a disorder that causes ongoing sadness and loss of interest in daily activities. People with depression have trouble completing daily tasks and can even feel like life isn’t worth living. Depression can lead to physical and emotional issues by affecting how you think, feel, and behave.

If this describes you or someone you love, it’s essential to understand the risk factors for depression. 

What is Depression?

Depression is a mood disorder. There are various types of depression, but they all have some factors in common. They all result in the presence of a sad, empty, or irritable mood that a person can’t seem to regulate. 

Types of depression include:

    • Major Depression. Causes a persistently depressed mood and makes a person have difficulty functioning in their daily life. 
    • Persistent Depressive Disorder. People with this form of depression have more mild symptoms, but they are constant.
    • Seasonal Affective Disorder.  Depression that occurs at the same time every year.
    • Psychotic Depression. Depression with hallucinations or delusional thinking. This severe form of depression usually requires hospitalization and ongoing treatment.
    • Postpartum Depression. Depression that occurs after childbirth. 
    • Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder.  Depression that occurs surrounding a woman’s menstrual cycle.
  • Situational Depression. This type of depression usually follows a traumatic event. It’s when a person has a difficult time returning to regular functioning or adjusting after trauma. 

Depression can affect anyone, regardless of age, race, education, culture, or income. About 5% of adults worldwide suffer from depression. More than 5.7% of adults older than 60 years of age have depression. In America, more than 17 million adults have at least one major depressive episode in their lives.

Depression is prevalent among children, too. More than 3% of children between the ages of 3 and 17 have diagnosed depression. That’s about 1.9 million young people.

And the Journal of the American Medical Association says that by 2030, depression will become the leading cause of disability worldwide.

A black woman puts her arm around a white woman while they sit on the couch, both have worried and pained expressionsSymptoms of Depression

The symptoms of depression aren’t limited to feeling sad, empty, or hopeless. They are wide-ranging. And depression affects people differently. 

Symptoms of depression to look for include: 

  • Frustration, irritability, and angry outbursts, even due to seemingly minor issues
  • Loss of pleasure or interest in many to all regular activities, like sports, hobbies, or sex
  • Disturbances in sleep, like insomnia or oversleeping
  • Lack of energy, making even small tasks difficult and requiring more effort
  • Weight loss and decreased appetite
  • Weight gain and increased food cravings
  • Agitation, restlessness, or anxiety
  • Slower body movements, speaking, or even slower thinking
  • Cognitive troubles, like difficulty thinking, concentrating, decision-making, and remembering things
  • Unexplained physical problems, like headaches
  • Self-blame or fixating on past failures
  • Feelings of guilt or worthlessness
  • Recurring or frequent thoughts of death and suicide
  • Thoughts of self-harm or suicidal ideation

Risk Factors for Developing Depression

Depression has many risk factors, ranging from environmental and social ones to chemical and physical differences in the brain. But one outward, prevalent cause is past trauma, especially emotional, physical, and/or sexual abuse. About three-quarters of people with depression have experienced significant abuse early in life.

Some individuals are more prone to depression than others. People who were mentally, physically, or sexually abused are more prone to depression. So are people who experience other trauma, like the death of a loved one.

There are many risk factors for developing depression. They include:

  • A family history of depression 
  • The death or loss of a loved one
  • External conflict
  • Traumatic experiences, like abuse
  • Insomnia/inability to get proper sleep
  • Hormones, including those during pregnancy
  • Various illnesses
  • Poor nutrition
  • Substance abuse

Knowing the risk factors helps mental health professionals determine proper medications and effective treatments. It also helps with developing prevention strategies.

Treatment for Depression

Depression is treatable, and there are many options for treatment. There are even things you can do for yourself to help ward off depression or control symptoms. For example, fundamental changes in your lifestyle can help improve your moods. Regular exercise can help release dopamine, the “feel-good” chemical, into the brain. This release helps regulate emotions and leads to an overall feeling of improved wellness. Plus, cognitive or spiritual activities, like meditation and prayer, help calm the mind and stabilize your mood.

Other excellent resources for treating depression are services from mental health professionals. Their help can range from counseling sessions to the prescription of medication. Mental health professionals also can help you identify the root cause of your depression and cope with it, not just treat symptoms.

Depression Treatment Options at ILC

Depression is real, all around us… and treatable. You don’t need to cope with depression alone.

If you or a loved one suffers from depression, there is hope. Doctors, researchers, and mental health professionals have made great strides in preventing, diagnosing, and treating depression through the years. And though medicine is one option for fighting depression, addressing the whole person is necessary to help overcome its debilitating effects. 

At Integrative Life Center, we understand that past trauma and other experiences can be root causes for depression. We work with clients to discover those causes and then treat them, as well as their symptoms. We also help provide trusted, proven methods to help our clients get back on track and live normal, fulfilling lives.

Our treatment modalities for depression include:

If you are ready to work toward permanent positive change in your life and overcome your depression, contact Integrative Life Center today to get started on the road to recovery.


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