Depression - Factors

So, how does depression come about?

It can, for a lot of people, be the result of a combination of circumstances such as living standards, having difficulty with money, employment or relationship worries.

Some people would argue that it is not what happens to us but how we respond to it that determines whether or not our mood drops and we get depressed.

When depressed, the sufferer can often respond to his/her situation by stopping doing the things he/she used to enjoy such as socialising or having a hobby. This behaving can in turn perpetuate and make worse the depression.

Sources of depression

There are various sources of depression. Some symptoms of depression may also be associated with physical illnesses so it is best to speak to a specialist (generally a GP or psychiatrist) about your specific situation should you feel that you might be depressed.

Some facts about the prevalence of depression:

  • Depression often co-exists with serious long-term physical conditions such as chronic pain, diabetes or HIV/AIDS. Different sections of society may also be more susceptible to depression.
  • The rate of depression in women in the USA is 1.5 to 3 times that of men (however, there is evidence to show this may be due more to men reporting symptoms rather than them experiencing symptoms).
  • There is also an association between depression (and other emotional problems) and social deprivation. Depression in low income groups, for example, is around twice that of high income groups.
  • There is also a link between getting older and depression. The Rowntree Foundation in the UK suggeststhat this is partially linked to deteriorating ability to perform routine tasks. Helping older people increase that ability, however, is shown to improve their mental health.

Circumstances and life experience

Change of circumstances might be a precursor to depression, for example if you have gone through a recent divorce or lost your job, you may experience depression.

You might also feel quite down if you are recently bereaved. There are some circumstances of death that may be highly distressing (e.g. accident, suicide or murder) and people who are bereaved under these circumstances may wish to seek expert help.

Generally, however, we each have a similar process of coping with loss, whether of a person, a job or a part of our life. With regards to bereavement, this process is considered natural and would generally include a time to grieve for the person who has died.

During this time, our mood is likely to dip and we are likely to display some of the signs of depression. What we would expect is for our mood to lift, however, once the grieving process is complete.

Other factors that are known to put people are higher risk of depression include losing a parent in childhood, childhood sexual abuse and domestic violence.

Social support and depression

Some people are more resilient to depression through having good social networks, supportive family and friends and better access to things that help lift their mood. How some people respond to and explain their difficulties can also help keep their mood level. The more control people perceive they have over a situation and the more confidence they have in their ability or others ability to sort it out can help pacify them and make it less likely that their mood will drop.

Depression, alcohol & drugs

Sometimes depression is linked to alcohol or drug use. It could be the way that you use drugs or alcohol is creating problems in your life, such as alienating friends or family. Similarly, it could be that you are using drugs or alcohol to temporarily resolve issues in your life, such as drinking to forget or taking drugs to escape from the reality of your situation. Psychologists sometimes talk about the above ways of using drugs and alcohol as ‘destructive’ or problematic in that they are causing more problems than they solve. The article How Much is Too Much? in issue 1 of Uncovered (which can be found under 'Addiction') addresses addiction issues further and suggests ways of obtaining help.

Depression and debt

Studies have shown that there is a strong link between worry about debt and depression. Most of us will have money worries at some points in our lives and perhaps struggle constantly to pay the bills and look after ourselves and our families.

While some of us can cope with significant levels of debt, for others it can become a real burden and can seriously impact their everyday lives. Since there is still a social stigma attached to debt, people may be reluctant to talk about it or to seek help.

If you have debt problems which are causing you concern, or you know of someone troubled by debt problems, there are various organisations that can advise you. While some debt management companies will offer services, you may need to pay for their advice.

The Consumer Credit Counselling Service on 0800 138 1111 and National Debtline on 0808 808 4000 offer their services free of charge.

CAP Counsellor Phil Cole takes us through budgeting in more detail in ‘Budgeting for Christmas’ in issue 1 of Uncovered Magazine, also see 'Debt' section, for further advice and help.

Further reading

For more Information on Depression, please visit:

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