By Dr Hercules Kollias
This year alone, at least 20 million people worldwide are going to suffer from depression. Far more than that might go through a down spell in life, but it doesn’t mean things have to blow up into full-blown depression.
Not all depression is seen coming, and these 10 common triggers don’t always flip someone from a state of sadness to clinical depression. Still, it’s worth knowing them, so that you can take care of yourself if you go through these life events.
Even if you don’t personally have these happen to you, knowing them means you can watch out for family and friends who might.
1) Alcohol Abuse: The link between alcohol abuse and depression has been known for many years. Alcohol depresses a person’s central nervous system. At first, this just affects their mood, but over time it can trigger clinical depression.
2) Financial Stress: Chronic stress about being able to pay the bills or manage debt can pile on someone’s psyche. Frustration rises while self-esteem is whittled away over time.
3) Divorce: Change can be hard in any way that it happens, but few changes are harder than going through a divorce. It’s not just a change, but a change to a person’s social unit and network, impacting their entire fabric of life. The change of social status is enough to trigger depression, but the typical reactions, such as sadness, fear, and loneliness, are also dangerous in and of themselves. Making matters worse, a financial strain often accompanies divorce, bringing one of the earlier triggers into play as well.
4) Empty Nest Syndrome: Change and loss are both very difficult things to deal with. When both happen at the same time, it’s double the trouble. Everything that is normal about a person’s life changes, right down to how their typical day goes. Some parents take this harder than others, and depression can follow.
5) Fertility: Trying to conceive a baby and start a family is sometimes the happiest time of life for some couples. Running into trouble with it can turn out to be deflating. Some women suffer early menopause due to things like surgical consequences, illness, or chemotherapy. When a woman has the realisation that she might never have kids, depression is a definitive risk.
6) Illness: Being diagnosed with any serious illness can open the door to depression joining whichever ailment it is. A sick person will usually start thinking about their future differently, and a changed outlook can diminish the possibilities they see in their future if they still see one at all.
7) Job Loss: Losing a job is often the leading depression trigger of them all. Even for those self-employed or freelancing, a sudden loss of income causes just as much financial strain. Self-identity and self-worth are both impacted, and it strains the marriages and relationships a person might normally depend on for support and strength. Any pre-existing situations that were already sources of stress or unhappiness now turn into outright points of conflict. Members of the workforce that are older or have higher salaries are even more susceptible to a bout of depression if they lose their job.
8) Menopause: Hormonal fluctuations trigger symptoms that can include low libido, anxiety, fatigue, and depression. Any of these can trigger depression on their own, so a combination of them is even riskier. Also, while men don’t have a definitive menopause as women do, they too can have a serious hormonal change that impacts them negatively.
9) Providing Full-Time Care: If someone you love is debilitated with a disease such as cancer or Alzheimer’s, among many other possibilities, then being their caregiver can demand a lot of your time and energy. Many conflicting choices arise, and on any given day, you can wind up feeling inadequate, resentful, and guilty, sometimes all on the same day.
10) Sexual Issues: Sexual problems can cause depression, but depression can also cause sexual problems. Not only does this work both ways, then, but it means the pair can feed off each other to create a sick spiral into declining health. Medications are available to treat depression, but they unfortunately often have sexual issues as side effects.
When you know these 10 common triggers of depression, you can identify in advance the scenarios in which you or someone you love might start falling into depression. Use this knowledge to prevent depression by knowing the causes and being prepared to deal with things in advance.