There has been much discussion in the media in the last year about rising rates of people suffering from clinical depression. Why should this have happened? We’re living in a modern country with advances in medicine and other therapies. So why is depression not being managed better than it is? It may be that reporting rates are on the increase as hopefully there is less stigma around talking about mental health problems, people may be more willing to admit to being depressed. There may be other factors at work.
Let us consider how we assess the risk of someone developing depression. We consider the risk factors that research evidence shows can increase the likelihood of this happening. You can read more about how we assess risk in the QCS Policy and Procedure on depression.
Having any of these experiences does not mean someone will get depression, however it means they may be more likely to become depressed. Here are some of the risk factors that may explain why rates of depression are rising:
- We’re living longer – depression can feature in old age. Having a physical medical problem can be a risk factor so as people live longer more people will struggle with long-term chronic conditions
- Life stresses – major life events are risk factors that are significant in a number of major mental health problems. Now we all experience major life events, but many of these life events are happening to people more often and at a younger age because of changes in patterns of family life and employment (such as less structured employment, part-time working, personal debt, more than one job and insecure contracts)
- Pressure of communications – living with information technology can mean being subject to immediate communication, through e-mails outside working hours, and following each other on social media can bring about pressures and stress
- Depression rates are rising amongst younger people and that’s partly explained by the above, but also as a result of other pressures such as conforming to ideals about body image, being subject to online bullying and exam pressures
- Use or misuse of alcohol and drugs – another set of risk factors that can lead to depression. They can be used by people to self-medicate therefore leading to a worsening cycle of depression
- Modern celebrity culture means many young people are exposed to unattainable lifestyles, wealth and body images that leave people lacking self-worth.