There are people who think depression is a sign of weakness. It isn’t. That attitude can prevent people from seeking help when they need it. Instead it’s wise to learn who might be at risk for this condition and make sure help is given.
Statistics: 150 million people around the world suffer from depression. 850,000 die due to the problems depression can cause. One in every ten in the U.S. have the disorder in some form.
Gender: It is an accepted fact that women suffer from depression at far higher rates than men. What isn’t known is why. Some have suggested that it’s because women are more likely to see a doctor for the problem. More studies are planned to find out if this is the case.
Family History: Like many other conditions, depression runs in families. If you have relatives with depression it is possible you may develop it.
Isolation: 25% of the U.S. population have no social support. This can be from a variety of reasons. People work longer hours. It’s expensive to go out. Some of the elderly are housebound because of illness or inability to drive. Studies are very clear that social isolation is a risk factor for major depression and other mental disorders.
Sleep Disorders: While these disorders do not cause depression they are a sign that the true diagnosis is depression. In fact, if you have depression, developing a sleep disorder or not getting enough sleep can make it worse.
Grief: This is a tricky issue. Grieving is a natural thing and it can cause depression. For some depression gradually dissipates even though the loss is still painful. For others it can slip into major depression. Signs that grief is moving from a normal pattern to major depression include difficulty carrying out day to day tasks, difficulty or hesitation in speaking, hallucinations other than that of the deceased and feelings of worthlessness. If severe grieving goes past two months it might be wise to call in the doctor.
Abuse: Whether it’s domestic violence or child abuse, those who suffer from an abusive relationship are more likely to be depressed or have other mental disorders. This is particularly true in women.
Illness: Between five and forty percent of those with serious illnesses have depressive episodes. The biggest problem here is that it is often undertreated…if it’s noticed at all. This is something that needs further study and better treatment.
Major Changes: Whether they are good changes or bad ones, they can be a risk factor for depression. This is part of the stress/depression factor. While not everyone will experience depression following a major life change, it is something to be aware of.
Medication: Some medications can actually cause depression. Medications for acne, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and oral contraceptives are on that list.
If you are at risk for depression or you think it could be a problem, talk to your doctor. Counseling, medication and/or changing medications can be very helpful in reducing the impact of this disorder on your life. Getting help is a sign of strength, not a sign of weakness.