Depression is a universal problem regardless of a person’s gender, ethnicity or age. No one is immune to this pathological development. Depressive symptoms can be caused by a number of possibilities. However, the potential effects of depression can become a much more serious issue if suicidal ideation and self-harm come into play. In order to better prevent this mental disorder from advancing to a life-threatening stage on a national scale, more everyday citizens must gain a greater understanding of certain demographics and their specific relationship with depression.
Although depression is not and should not be accepted as a normal aspect of an individual’s life, it is also quite common. In 2012, approximately 16 million American adults struggled with some form of depressive condition. There are particular groups of people that have been shown to be more vulnerable to the onset of depression, whether it is due to a lack of awareness or access to treatment.
In terms of gender: Women
In the United States, approximately one in five women develops a clinical case of depression in her lifetime. Women are also more than twice as likely as their male counterparts to experience clinical depression. Although the reasons for this major difference have not been clearly identified, research suggests that unique biological processes in women, such as hormonal cycles, may contribute to the onset of depressive symptoms. Statistics also show that women have a greater propensity to inform their clinicians and related professionals of their mental health issues, which could also add to the gap between genders.
Premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD) and postpartum depression (PPD) are two forms of depression in women that can be traced back to hormonal changes in the body. From the growing amount of evidence supporting this connection, the birth of a child or the menstrual cycle itself may be a factor in how depression can develop. Other external factors of depression range from increased stress at work and role expectations to higher rates of sexual abuse and poverty among female populations.
In terms of ethnicity: African Americans
According to a 2001 report from the Surgeon General, African Americans are often overrepresented in groups linked to higher rates of mental illness. A great disparity also exists in their access to care, which is drastically limited by financial and community-based barriers.
Depression also has a history of being misdiagnosed in African Americans. In a 1997 study, researchers found a distinction between how Caucasians and African Americans express depressive symptoms, with Caucasians having a more pronounced display and African Americans having more variation. According to the National Study of American Life (NSAL) survey, the lifetime prevalence of depression is higher for African Americans than whites when duration is factored in. Specifically, chronic conditions were observed in 56.5 percent of African Americans and 38.6 percent of Caucasians. These findings highlight some diagnostic obstacles that exist on the clinical side of treatment.
Also according to “Willow Weep for Me,” a powerful and personal account of the African American experience in the context of mental disorders, there are common opinions from within the community that feed the restrictive stigma around mental health care, including:
- “What do you have to be depressed about? If our people could make it through slavery, we can make it through anything.”
- “Black women are supposed to be strong – caretakers, nurturers, healers of other people.”
- “When a black woman suffers from a mental disorder, the overwhelming opinion is that she is weak.”
The myths and stigma that cloud and shroud the true definition of depression create unnecessary, adverse experiences for those at-risk of being diagnosed. It can even keep those with the illness from receiving precise and effective treatment. An important step in overcoming depression is learning how to distinguish the myths from the facts.
In terms of age: The elderly
Growing older usually means adjusting to the next challenge in a person’s life. Sometimes, challenges can consist of coping with loss, such as with a loved one or of one’s previous quality of life. For some, negative feelings can persist and the pleasure found in daily life may even disappear as well. These telltale signs may mark the beginning of a diagnosable mental disorder, even at advanced ages.
Clinical depression may also be linked to other illnesses. Chronic ailments that occur later in life like diabetes, cancer and cardiovascular disease can trigger an episode of depression depending on its specific severity. While it is difficult to deal with a serious illness, it is also a serious problem if a person’s mood is affected as a result. In some cases, treating co-occurring symptoms of depression can improve the state of an individual’s other conditions as well.
Depression is a disorder that removes the pleasure found in daily life activities that used to bring joy and other positive feelings. If it is left untreated, the condition can lead to other ailments, psychological distortion and even a desire to end one’s own life.
Sovereign Health of California is a treatment provider with a commitment to high quality and comprehensive evidence-based treatment programs for conditions such as depression, including support services for the family as well. If you or anyone you know struggles with a serious psychological problem, please contact a consultant online or call (866) 819-0427.
Written by Lee Yates, Sovereign Health Group writer