Who Is Most Likely to Suffer From Depression?

There are many groups who are more prone to depression than others. The question of `what causes depression?' is difficult to answer, but looking at the groups that suffer higher rates can offer clues.

First, adult women are more likely to suffer from depression than adult men. However, the definition of depression may soon be widened to cover symptoms that men are more likely to express, such as anger and irritability. Women are prone to suffer depression related to PMS, pregnancy, post-birth, pre-menopause, and post-menopause hormonal changes. Culturally, women are more likely to have responsibilities both within and without the home. They are also more likely to suffer from stress related to single parenthood. Interestingly enough, in studies done on teenage boys and girls, the numbers with depression were consistent across gender.

Depression is also much more prevalent in smokers. It is unclear whether a predisposition to depression is triggered or intensified by smoking or whether feelings of depression drive smokers to seek both comfort and rebellion in the habit. However it is well known that nicotine and other depressants confuse the mechanisms in the brain that release serotonin, and can lead to more serious bouts of depression. Serotonin is the chemical that causes feelings of happiness and contentment.

Men who lose status are prone to depression, as they are more likely to lose self-esteem and an optimistic outlook. In fact a loss in status more than quadruples the likelihood that a man will get some sort of depression. In our culture men are often seen as achievers and providers, and if they feel they are failing at that role they can very easily slip into a pessimistic and state of mind, as well as feelings of worthlessness.

Minorities are more susceptible to depression than others. Feelings of anger and resentment as well as hopelessness for a better life can all lead to depression. The elderly are vulnerable as well. Cast off by society, they can feel as if they serve no purpose anymore, and they are often also beset by the loss of close, personal friends as they age. Minorities and the elderly are the most likely of the groups to consider suicide an option. The numbers of suicides among minorities are far higher than those in the greater majority, and suicide rates skyrocket after age eight five, particularly among men.

People with physical disabilities are vulnerable as well. People with lifelong disabilities often live their whole lives feeling somewhat left out. Those who have just suffered a serious injury can also become depressed, wondering what will become of the rest of their life. Those who are just diagnosed with and even recovering from illnesses also are vulnerable, as they can be overwhelmed with feelings of loss, fear, and discomfort. Whether it's a lifelong disability or a newly acquired one, those suffering with physical trials can feel as if they have lost something that others possess. Feelings of resentment and self-pity grow and can lead to a downward spiral of depression.

Those who already suffer from a form of affective disorder such as anxiety or manic-depression are more likely to struggle with depression. Often these disorders include depression as a symptom, and have no real cure.

However, as common as depression is becoming, it is possible to live a happy, healthy life. Psychotherapy is often a very effective option, as well as prescription antidepressants. Whatever a person's place in life it is important to remember that there is always help, and that there are many people with depression who lead fulfilling and fruitful lives.

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