There has been a lot of research into mental illness because it is one of the growing ailments that is plaguing our country every day. More than 16.1 million American adults experience depression, with the numbers on the rise for America's youth.
"Depression is most common among those with least access to any health care, including mental health professionals. This includes young people and those with lower levels of income and education," noted Renee Goodwin, PhD, of the Department of Epidemiology, Mailman School of Public Health.
"Despite this trend, recent data suggest that treatment for depression has not increased, and a growing number of Americans, especially socioeconomically vulnerable individuals and young persons, are suffering from untreated depression. Depression that goes untreated is the strongest risk factor for suicide behavior and recent studies show that suicide attempts have increased in recent years, especially among young women," she concluded.
Feelings of sadness, loneliness and to its extreme, suicidal thoughts can take over, causing someone to isolate themselves, and no longer participate in activities they used to enjoy.
Over the last few decades we have heard that depression was caused by a "chemical imbalance" in the brain. As it turns out, this assessment is not exactly correct.
Studies have noted differences in some people's brain that can effect their susceptibility to the illness. Some research has indicated that a smaller hippocampus, which is responsible for storing memories and producing serotonin, was more present in people with a history of depression than those who had never been depressed.
One thing is for certain, depression is a complex issue and has many contributing factors.
Your past can have a lot to do with how depression affects your life. Past physical, sexual and emotional abuse can cause depression later in life.
Certain medications have side effects that can cause or magnify depression symptoms. Some drugs used to treat high blood pressure, such as beta-blockers or reserpine, can increase your risk of depression.
Other medications such as corticosteriods, opiodes such as codeine or morphine, and anticholinergics that are taken to relieve stomach cramping have been found to cause mania, which is associated with bipolar disorder.
Ongoing conflict and disputes with family members or friends can bring about depression in some people.
4. Death or loss
Sadness or grief from the death or loss of a loved one, while may be natural feelings, can spark depression risk for some.
Each person is unique in the way the cope with feelings of loss, so not everyone is prone to depression after experiencing this type of grief.
While environment and what is happening in your life is a grand indicator of your depression risk, family history also plays a part. Studies have led researchers to believe that depression is passed down genetically from one generation to the next. How this actually happens still remains to be seen.
6. Major life events
It's not just negative events in your life that can spark a depressive episode. Some times good events like starting a new job, graduation or getting married can lead to depression. Of course, other life events like losing a job, moving, getting a divorce and retiring can also affect your risk for depression.
If you find the work in your life to be meaningless or you feel like you have no control over it, you are more likely to experience depression. If you are lonely and feel like you can rely on the people around you for support, you are also more likely to become depressed.
7. Personal problems
Social isolation or being cast out of a family or social group can lead to depression. Other issues with body image or dissatisfaction with your life can cause you to draw away and increase your risk for depression.
8. Serious illness
Depression can often co-exist with other major illnesses or as a reaction to being sick.
Depression has been found to be linked to people who suffer from chronic illnesses. Often these illnesses can be controlled through diet, exercise, lifestyle changes and certain medications. Some, including diabetes, heart disease, arthritis, kidney disease, HIV/AIDs, lupus, multiple sclerosis and even hypothyroidism can lead to depressed feelings.
9. Substance abuse
Nearly 30% of people how have been found to have substance abuse problems also struggle with major or clinical depression.