Risk Factors for Depression
A risk factor is something that increases your likelihood of getting a disease or condition.
It is possible to develop
Your risk of depression may be related to a combination of genetic, physical, psychological, and environmental factors. These include:
Family History of Mental Illness
People with a family history of depressive disorders tend to be at increased risk of developing depression.
Chronic Physical or Mental Disorders
In recent years, researchers have found that physical changes in the body can be accompanied by mental changes. Medical illnesses, such as
A history of one or more previous episodes of depression significantly increases the risk of a subsequent episode.
Major Life Changes and Stress
A stressful change in life can trigger a depressive episode. Such stressful events may include a serious loss, a difficult relationship,
Little or No Social Support
Having few or no
Certain psychological factors put people at risk for depression. People with low self-esteem, who consistently view themselves and the world with pessimism, or who are readily overwhelmed by stress, may be prone to depression.
Other psychological factors, such as perfectionism and sensitivity to loss and rejection, may increase a person’s risk for depression. Depression is also more common in people with chronic
Low Socioeconomic Status
Being in a low socioeconomic group is a risk factor for depression. This may be due to factors such as perceived low social status, cultural factors, financial problems, stressful environments, social isolation, and greater daily stress.
Women experience depression about twice as often as men. Hormonal factors may contribute to the increased rate of depression in women, particularly such factors as premenstrual changes, pregnancy,
The elderly are at a particularly high risk for depression. Furthermore, they are notoriously undertreated for depression. Depression is a disorder at any age and deserves serious treatment.
Black Americans are less likely than whites to develop depression, but when they do, it is often more chronic and severe. They are also less likely to get treatment for depression.
Chronic sleep problems, like
Certain medications have been implicated in depression, including:
American Psychiatric Association. Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. 4th ed. Text Revision. Washington, DC: American Psychiatric Association; 2000.
Carson RC, Butcher JN, Mineka S. Abnormal Psychology and Modern Life. 11th ed. Boston, MA: Allyn and Bacon; 2000.
Depression. National Institute of Mental Health website. Available at: http://www.nimh.nih.gov/healthinformation/depressionmenu.cfm . Accessed March 24, 2007.
National Institute of Mental Health website. Available at: http://www.nimh.nih.gov/ .
Williams DR, Gonzalez HM, Neighbors H, et al. Prevalence and distribution of major depressive disorder in African Americans, Caribbean Blacks, and Non-Hispanic Whites. Arch Gen Psychiatry. 2007;64:305-315.
Last reviewed March 2009 by
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.
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