Risk factors and causes of depression
Depression results from interactions between genetic, biological, environmental and psychological factors. Depression can begin at any age, but usually starts when a person is in their late teenage years, or in early adulthood (Wang et al., 2010). Many long-term mood and anxiety disorders in adults begin as high levels of anxiety in children (NIMH, 2018). Women, young people, those with persistent conditions and people with a family history of major depressive episodes are more likely to develop major depression (Wang et al., 2010).
Risk factors for depression include:
Even though risk factors may increase someone’s chances of developing depression, it is not guaranteed that they will develop it.
Click each risk factor below to learn more.
It is important to recognize that anyone could have past trauma (Kimberg, 2016). In fact, for clients in a clinical practice or service, the rates of trauma can be as high as 80 to 90 per cent (Saunders & Adams, 2014). A history of trauma is a major risk factor for depression.
First Nations, Inuit and Metis intergenerational trauma
The legacy of residential schools has deeply affected the mental health of First Nations, Metis and Inuit people. A research project that looked at the case files for a sample of residential school survivors found that 75 per cent contained information about mental health. The most common mental health diagnoses were post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), substance abuse disorder and major depression (Health Canada, 2017).
Depression can emerge with physical illnesses, such as diabetes, cancer, heart disease and Parkinson’s disease, especially in adults who are middle-aged or older. Sometimes the medications for these illnesses can cause side-effects that may lead to depression (NIMH, 2018).