Published on 30 November 2022

What Are The Risks Of Depression?: Things You Should Know

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Depression is a severe medical illness that causes persistent sadness and losing interest in the activities you previously used to enjoy. Depression has been among the most prevalent mental disorders in the United States for many years.

5% of adults suffer from depression globally, as estimated by WHO. It is a common mood disorder that currently impacts 280 million people worldwide. Depression may lead to suicide, the leading cause among the 15-29. It is observed that depression affects approximately 5.7 % of older adults. But what exactly is depression, and why does it occur? Let's look at it from an expert's perspective.

What Is Depression?

Some experts like Martin Seligman quoted depression as a 'common cold' in psychiatry since it has a considerable frequency of diagnosis. In contrast, Author William Styron called depression "The grey drizzle of horror." In simple words, depression is a state of mind which affects mental health through negative feelings and acts.

Stressful life events, such as a heavy workload, break up, divorce, the demise of a close family member, academic pressure, etc., significantly cause depression. However, it remains unclear for some individuals who experience adverse events to develop depression, whereas others do not, and how the occurrence of life events affects treatment outcomes. Depression is a condition that can occur in many ways, such as thinking about the past or future, feeling weird about something, etc.

Symptoms of Depression

If you have ever experienced any of the following signs and symptoms of depression almost every day for the last two weeks, then it is a possibility you might have depression.

  • I was feeling hopeless, pessimistic, and helpless.
  • Feeling sad and anxious all-day 
  • Losing interest in hobbies 
  • Talking slowly 
  • Difficulty concentrating, making decisions, and remembering things
  • Loss of appetite 
  • Crying a Lot 
  • Suicide thought or attempting to harm yourself
  • Difficulty sleep

Risk Factors For Depression

There was research found that gender is a risk factor for depression which suggests that from early to middle adolescence and throughout adulthood, females are typically twice as likely to become depressed as males.

Both genetic and environmental factors determine the risk of depression. A direct effect of genes on brain development increases the risk of abnormal personality development and leads to an inability to deal with traumatic situations appropriately, causing depression. To get these topics, let's dive deep into them by following points.

Family History and Genetics

A survey suggests that genetic factors determine 40% of depression. If a close family member, ex-parent, or sibling has depression, you have a higher chance of developing depression.

A twin study concluded that identical twins share 100% of their genes, while fraternal twins share 50%. So it is estimated that if genes play a crucial role in depression, we will expect that if one of the twins suffers from depression, an identical twin will have a greater chance of having it. But this may not be the case with non-identical or fraternal twins. In some cases, it is entirely genetic; in others, it may not be hereditary. 

Gender Role In Depression

Women are more prone to depression than men (ages 14–25 yr), but this percentage decreases with age. They are vulnerable to depression during pregnancy as well as after childbirth. Women may suffer from postpartum depression and during menopause. Some women believe depression can come from hormonal changes throughout life.

Depression is the third highest global disease, growing in Canada and worldwide; It will be the leading cause of disease burden by 2030 and is already the leading cause in women globally. Before hitting puberty, girls and boys have similar rates of depression; the rate is perhaps even higher for boys. 

Women display internalizing symptoms, and men show externalizing signs. In a study, women displayed more nervousness about interpersonal relationships, whereas men displayed more sensitivity to external career and goal-oriented factors. 

Women also experience a specific type of depression-related illness, including premenstrual dysphoric disorder, postpartum depression, and postmenopausal depression and Anxiety, associated with changes in ovarian hormones.

Chronic Stress

Stressful events like a divorce or financial changes can be significant stressors. Focusing on these stressors will increase the risk of depression, and we may get stuck. According to Prescott, chronic stress enhances the level of depression.

Stress has a diverse effect on us, increasing our focus on negative things. It will put your body in a more dire state, making you more sensitive to physical and mental hazards. It may help you keep safe but also focus on the unpleasant aspects of your life. It is not helpful as it will distract you from all the positive elements in your life.

Physical symptoms of depression may occur due to constant bombarding from stress chemicals. For ex-, weight gain, hypertension, a suppressed immune system, and heart problems. These stress chemicals and hormones affect neurons potently and, therefore, the brain's functioning. 

The Mental Health Survey Report, the levels of depression among Gen Z members went up about 4% or 5% between pre- and post-pandemic, as the pandemic was the main reason for stressed individuals.

While Saturdays can be a welcome respite from work or other stressful pursuits, they are not always a "cure" for stress. Stress is a complicated and multifaceted problem with numerous causes and symptoms that often necessitate more than just a brief reprieve to address.

Weekend vacations can help relieve some of stress's bodily and mental symptoms. Engaging in enjoyable activities, spending time with loved ones, moving outside, and practicing Mindfulness or calming methods can help reduce stress.

It's essential to note that more than having a weekend off may reduce stress and need to solve the problem if you're dealing with persistent or extreme stress. In such instances, obtaining professional assistance, such as counseling or therapy, may aid in developing more complete stress management strategies.

History of Trauma

If a patient has a history of trauma, it can have a significant impact on thier brain and nervous system. Understanding that emotional responses to trauma can have a powerful effect on our brains and body is essential. That's why, when faced with excessive stress or an unsafe situation, your body will put on a fight-or-flight response that helps us withdraw from the threat.

Individuals with trauma and Abuse history, especially during early childhood, will develop depressive symptoms sooner or later. This may have long-term effects on individuals' tendency toward detrimental stress reactions.

Personality Traits

According to one study, people with depression scored higher on neuroticism and low on extraversion and conscientiousness. The study based on the "Big Five" personality traits recommended that a person with depression is more likely to feel insecure, get stressed more often, may experience mood swings, find it difficult to introduce themselves, are afraid of small talk, may feel burned out after socializing, avoid big groups, are more reserved, impulsive and always finish things at the eleventh hour.

Dupuis and Ramsey (2011) found that a lack of social support is associated with depression and Internet overuse, indicating a weakness in developing real-life networks with others. 

Pervin &John (1997) discuss the Big Five Personality traits in a case study claiming that open signals availability for an expanded range of new experiences. They are sensitive toward beauty, art, and nature. This trait undoubtedly suits the profile of most young people.

Unresolved Grief or Loss

According to medical standards, grief over three months with impairment in at least two spheres is considered unresolved or complicated.

In brief, intense feelings of emptiness and sadness usually decrease after some time. In some cases, healing becomes complicated; it will take longer to recover if you are grieving over losing a loved one. This situation, called unresolved grief, leads to depression.

It differs from normal grief in many ways:

  • It lasts longer than normal grief, at times for many years
  • Unresolved grief is more severe and intense, which worsens with time.
  • It will disturb and interfere with the normal functioning of an individual.

People with low self-esteem who feel responsible about losing their feelings about the person who passed away will experience more grief symptoms. These people refuse to accept the loss of a loved one, and this tendency affects the healing process for unresolved grief.

Medication and Substance Use

It will be harmful to consume alcohol or drugs while going through the treatment of depression. Alcohol intensifies feelings of lethargy, drowsiness, and depression. 
Alcohol consumption lowers judgment and increases the risk of suicide for the person who is already depressed.

Alcohol and drug use can aggravate the course of depressive disorder by disturbing the symptoms of depression. It impacts treatment and increases the likelihood of going to the hospital. Substance Abuse impairs motivation and reduces the effectiveness of therapeutic interventions.  

Side effects are believed to be a direct consequence of the medication's impact on the brain and are similar among various drugs within the same group. Examples include dry mouth, headaches, dizziness, restlessness, and sexual problems. These issues are often perceived as side effects of the medications. But some of them may be caused due to depression. 

Poor Nutrition

Diet substantially impacts specific mental health disorders, including depression, which the lack of nutritional factors may influence. Nutrition plays a significant role in the onset and severity of depression. Poor appetite, skipped meals, and a prevalent desire for sweet foods are the food patterns that precede depression.

The diet pattern in the general population in many Asian and American countries resonates with the deficiency in nutrients like essential vitamins, minerals, and omega-3 fatty acids. Studies have demonstrated that a daily dose of essential nutrients reduces the patient's symptoms.

Supplements involving amino acids also reduce the symptoms, as they get converted to neurotransmitters, which lighten depression and other mental health issues. People with depression usually make poor food choices and select the food contributing to depression.

Depression is a disorder associated with significant symptoms such as increased sadness and Anxiety, loss of appetite, depressed mood, and a loss of interest in pleasurable activities. 

Bottom Line From Practical Anxiety Solutions

There are risk factors of depression like childhood history of trauma, poor nutrition, unresolved grief, or loss of a loved one which may impact a person's mind. These people may experience hallucinations and vivid images or feel like the person exists in reality. If these symptoms last more than six months, it is advisable to seek professional help. 
You can also keep an eye on these individuals' diet and sleep patterns because it is possible that whatever stress they are experiencing results from poor nutrition and disturbed routines.
Some people suffer from depression due to a lack of social interactions or not having any friends. These people may not express their emotions and might get into trouble later. Hence, it is necessary to take care of these individuals, make them understand the importance of being social, and help them develop new relationships.