Depression is a common problem throughout an individual’s lifespan. Statistics suggest that about one in 20 individuals would have suffered depression at some point of time in their life. But this data is not representative of all individuals. There are some common risk factors that increase the risk of having depression. One of the most common risk factors is experiencing interpersonal violence in any form. This may be
- physical and emotional abuse and neglect in childhood,
- bullying during school ,
- social ostracism in teenage and college,
- domestic and workplace related violence of any sort in middle and older adulthood.
Other common risk factors include academic difficulties, physical illnesses, loss of significant relationships, financial difficulties, family history of depression and social isolation.
Typically, people in the age group of 40-60 years have the highest rates of depression possibly due to accumulation of stress over their lifespan. The risk of attempting suicide is higher in teenagers and young adults especially in situations of acute crisis while the risk of committing suicide is much higher in the elderly.
Over 60% of the calls to suicide help hotlines are made by people in the age group of 35-54
Therefore, rather than asking if certain age groups are predisposed to depression, it would be more helpful to think in terms of “Are certain groups of individuals facing various life events more likely to develop depression?” An important thing to keep in mind is that all these are risk factors and not causative for depression. Ideally this information should be used in the context of helping individuals in various life situations that may predispose them to depression.
Once again, it is important to realize that not all those who face the situations mentioned above suffer depression. Also not all those who suffer depression face these issues.
The most important thing to remember is to try and have a non-judgmental outlook and to offer our support to those going through a tough time.
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