Causes & Effects of Depression

At some point or another, virtually everyone will experience moments of sadness. However, if an individual experiences prolonged bouts of sadness that are tied to continued feelings of hopelessness and helplessness, he or she might be struggling with a depressive disorder. Depressive disorders are a serious mental health disorders that can severely impact an individual’s ability to sleep, eat, participate in healthy interpersonal relationships, and otherwise meet the day-to-day responsibilities of a productive life. If symptoms such as these continue and treatment is not obtained, an individual with depression can begin isolate him or herself from others, find it hard to meet these responsibilities, or develop thoughts of self-harm and/or suicide.

Unfortunately, many individuals who are faced with depression are also challenged with symptoms of an eating disorder, including binge-eating disorder, bulimia nervosa, and anorexia nervosa. The feelings of helplessness, sadness, and hopelessness that impact these individuals can feed into the development of deep upset throughout their lives. In addition, individuals who battle with this condition are placed at risk for experiencing a number of detriments throughout their lives, including health consequences if they are not able to control their eating disorder.

Thankfully, depression is a highly treatable disorder. There are treatment options available that have been established to specifically address an individual’s co-occurring depression and eating disorder diagnosis. Some of these treatments can include medications that will help alleviate depression symptoms, education on how to recognize eating disorder symptoms, and therapeutic interventions that teach healthy coping skills to handle both conditions. Engaging in these forms of professional care can dramatically improve the lives of those afflicted with these mental health issues. By obtaining treatment services such as these, those who have depression and co-occurring eating disorders can reclaim a life that is happy, healthy, and free of their upsetting symptoms.

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Statistics

Depression, which is a mental illness that impacts children, adolescents, and adults, is one of the most common forms of mental health conditions. Studies have shown that 1 in 33 children, 1 in 8 adolescents, and 7% of all adults meet the criteria needed to diagnose depression. Additionally, approximately 15% of adults will develop depression later on in life if their symptoms are not experienced sooner.

Causes and Risk Factors for Depression

A number of factors, including one’s environment and genetics, can add to the development of depression. The below list includes some of the causes of depression as stated by mental health professionals:

Genetic: Since depression is often found within the same family, it can be concluded that this form of mental health condition is heritable, especially for those who have a close relative like a parent or sibling who suffer from this disorder. Studies show that 40% of individuals with a diagnosis of depression have a family history of it.

Environmental: There are a variety of environmental influences that can trigger the development of depression (or exacerbate symptoms of it). Influences such as stress, violence, trauma, neglect, or abuse can bring on these symptoms, especially if these influences are continual. In addition, sudden life changes can also bring on the onset of depression. Some of these changes can include the loss of a loved one or losing a job.

Risk Factors:

  • Experiencing abrupt of unexpected life changes
  • Low socioeconomic status
  • Exposure to chronic stress, violence, abuse, or neglect
  • Being the victim of a crime
  • Lack of academic achievement
  • Unstable work history
  • Personal history of a preexisting mental health condition
  • Family or personal history of substance abuse and addiction
  • Being female
  • Family history of depression or other mental health conditions

Signs and Symptoms of Depression

The signs and symptoms linked to depression can vary based on the severity of symptoms and the age of the individual. If you believe that you or someone you love is struggling with this mental illness, it is imperative that you take note of the symptoms listed below so treatment can be obtained:

Behavioral symptoms:

  • Self-harm
  • Crying spells
  • Decreased participation in things or activities that were once enjoyed
  • Inability to fulfill roles or adhere to responsibilities
  • Frequent absences from school
  • Missing work
  • Unwarranted outbursts of emotions

Physical symptoms:

  • Headaches or migraines
  • Aches and/or pains
  • Weight loss or gain
  • Lethargy
  • Not sleeping
  • Sleeping for a majority of the day

Cognitive symptoms:

  • Poor concentration
  • Impaired decision-making
  • Memory difficulties
  • Slowed thinking

Psychosocial symptoms:

  • Feeling guilty
  • Decreased interest in pleasurable activities
  • Sadness
  • Over criticism of self
  • Helplessness
  • Irritability
  • Hopelessness
If you feel that you are in crisis, or are having thoughts about hurting yourself or others, please call 9-1-1 or go to the nearest emergency room immediately.

Effects of Depression

Allowing depression to continue can cause an individual to become vulnerable to a variety of negative repercussions if treatment is not sought and implemented. Some of these symptoms can grow worse over time and cause the following effects to occur:

  • Suicidal ideation
  • Suicide attempts
  • Development of another mental health condition or substance abuse problem
  • Self-harming behaviors
  • Obesity
  • Decline in overall physical health
  • Inability to maintain employment
  • Social withdrawal or isolation
  • Decline in quantity and quality of interpersonal relationships
  • Academic failure

Co-Occurring Disorders

Other mental health conditions are known to develop alongside of depression. In some instances, symptoms of depression can occur in response to another disorder, or can bring on symptoms of an additional disorder. Those who suffer from eating disorders often struggle with the symptoms of depression. In addition to bulimia, anorexia, and binge-eating disorder, other mental health disorders that have been known to occur alongside of depression include:

  • Borderline personality disorder
  • Substance use disorders
  • Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD)
  • Anxiety disorders
  • Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)
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