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Depression - What Increases Your Risk?

Experts don't know why some people get depression and others don't. But certain things make you likely to get depression. These are called risk factors.

Important risk factors for depression include:

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  • Having a father, mother, brother, or sister who has had depression.
  • Having had depression before.
  • Having post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
  • One-time stressful events, such as the death of a loved one, losing your independence or your job, or having a serious accident.

Other risk factors include:

  • Long-term (chronic) stressful situations, such as living in poverty, having marriage or family problems, or helping someone who has a long-term medical problem.
  • Physical or sexual abuse in childhood or in a relationship, such as domestic abuse or violence.
  • Getting older.

Medical risk factors

Medical problems also may cause depression or make it worse. These problems include:

  • Abusing drugs or alcohol.
  • Having a long-term (chronic) health problem, such as coronary artery disease, diabetes, cancer, or chronic pain. Read more about depression and chronic illness.
  • Having a mental health problem or behavior disorder, such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), dementia, anxiety disorder, or an eating disorder.
  • Having had a recent serious illness or surgery.
  • Having a health problem such as anemia or an underactive thyroid gland (hypothyroidism). Treating the health problem usually cures the depression.
  • Using certain medicines, such as steroids or narcotics. If you stop using the medicine, the depression will probably go away.

Other risk factors for women

Women have more risk factors. These include:

WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: July 22, 2013
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
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