Clinical Depression Risk Factors, Prevention And Treatment


Depression is a mental disorder characterised by a persistent feeling of melancholy and loss of interest. Clinical depression, commonly referred to as major depressive disorder, has an impact on your emotions, thoughts, and behaviour and can result in a variety of mental and physical problems. You can find it difficult to do your regular daily tasks, and you might occasionally wonder if it is really worth it to live.

Depression is a serious condition that does not just "snap out" of the blues. For depression, long-term therapy may be required. Most depressed people have better symptoms with medication, therapy, or both.


What specifically causes depression is unknown. Many other causes might be at play, much like with many mental illnesses, including:

Biological variations. People who are sad exhibit physical changes in their brains that may be seen. Although their significance is now unknown, these changes may eventually reveal their underlying causes.

Mind chemistry. Organic brain chemicals called neurotransmitters are highly likely to have a role in depression. Recent research suggests that changes in the activities and interactions of these neurotransmitters with the neurocircuits in charge of maintaining mood stability may have a significant impact on depression and its treatment.

Hormones. Changes in the body's hormone balance may cause or be the cause of depression. Pregnancy and the weeks or months after it might cause changes in hormone levels.

Inherited characteristics. Depression is more likely to occur in those with biological connections to the condition. Researchers are looking for genes that could contribute to depression.

How to check if you have Clinical Depression?

If you are feeling depressed, schedule a visit with your doctor or a mental health professional as soon as you can. Talk to a friend or family member, a doctor, a member of your religious group, or another someone you can trust if you are afraid to seek help.

If you are considering ending your life, think about these alternatives:

  • Speak with your doctor or a mental health specialist.
  • Call a suicide prevention hotline.
  • Message a close friend or relative.
  • Consult a member of your religion's community, your pastor, or a spiritual guide.
  • Make sure a loved one who is contemplating suicide or has previously attempted it receives support.

Risk Factors 

Although it may affect anybody at any age, depression frequently begins in a person's adolescent years, 20s, or 30s.

Although women are more likely to seek therapy, there are more women than males who have been diagnosed with depression.

The following list of factors appears to raise the chance of getting or starting depression:

  • Some character qualities, such as having low self-esteem and being too reliant, self-critical, or negative circumstances that are traumatic or distressing, such as physical or sexual abuse, the loss of a loved one, the end of a relationship, or financial difficulties
  • Relatives having a history of depression, alcoholism, bipolar disorder, or suicidal thoughts
  • Being lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender or having differences in the development of genital organs that are not clearly male or female (intersex) are difficult circumstances to manage in society.
  • Past experiences with various mental health conditions including eating disorders, anxiety disorders, or post-traumatic stress disorder
  • Overuse of alcohol or illicit drugs
  • A serious or prolonged ailment, such as cancer, a stroke, persistent discomfort, or heart disease
  • Certain medications, including certain hypertension medications and some sleeping pills (before stopping any prescription, see your doctor)


Even if you might only ever encounter depression once in your life, the majority of people go through several episodes. Any of the following symptoms, which may linger for the bulk of the day during these episodes:

  • Sadness, tears, emptiness, or a sense of futility
  • Irrational conduct, annoyance, or anxiety, especially about insignificant matters
  • Loss of fun or interest in most parts of everyday life, including sex, hobbies, and sports
  • Problems with sleep, such as insomnia or oversleeping
  • Even basic tasks need extra effort due to exhaustion and a lack of vitality.
  • Weight loss and decreased appetite versus weight gain and increased food desires
  • A sensation of discomfort, concern, or anxiety
  • Sluggish bodily movements, posture, or speech
  • feelings of worthlessness or humiliation, a focus on previous transgressions, or self-blame
  • Problems with memory, concentration, decision-making, and thought
  • Suicidal ideation that is persistent, suicide attempts, or actual suicide
  • Unidentified bodily conditions, such as headaches or back discomfort
  • Numerous depressed people frequently experience symptoms that are severe enough to hinder daily tasks including work, school, social contacts, or interpersonal relationships. It is possible for some people to feel miserable or unhappy all the time without knowing exactly why.

Depression in children and adolescents

The indications and symptoms of depression in adolescents and teenagers are similar to those in adults, notwithstanding certain differences.

Young children with depression may exhibit melancholy, irritability, clinginess, worry, aches and pains, unwillingness to go to school, or underweight.

Teenagers may display signs of depression, irritability, low self-esteem, aggressiveness, poor performance, or low mood.

Also possible are high levels of sensitivity and misunderstanding, recreational drug or alcohol use, excessive eating or sleeping, self-harm, loss of interest in routine chores, and avoidance of social interaction.

Depression in senior citizensDepression is never to be taken lightly because it is not a typical aspect of ageing. 

Unfortunately, older persons with depression frequently go undetected and untreated, and they may be hesitant to get care. Depressive symptoms can manifest in older people in a variety of ways or in less obvious ways, including:

  • Memory issues or character alterations
  • Physical discomfort
  • Unrelated to an illness or medication, signs of tiredness, anorexia, sleeplessness, or a lack of sex desire
  • A tendency to frequently prefer staying home over leaving the house to engage in social activities
  • Suicidal thoughts or feelings, especially among older males


There is no foolproof method to stop depression. However, these methods could be useful.

  • Take steps to reduce your stress, strengthen your resilience, and boost your self-confidence.
  • To get through difficult times, reach out to family and friends, especially during times of crisis.
  • Get help as soon as a problem arises to stop depression from getting worse.
  • To assist in the prevention of a  return of symptoms, think about receiving long-term maintenance therapy.


Most depressed people can get their symptoms under control with medication and treatment. Medication might be prescribed by your primary care doctor or psychiatrist to treat symptoms. For many people with depression, seeking the advice of a psychiatrist, psychologist, or other mental health professional can be helpful.

If you have severe depression, you might need to attend an outpatient treatment or stay in the hospital until your symptoms go away.

Here is a deeper look at the available treatments for depression.

  • Medications
  • There are many different antidepressant dosages, some of which are given here. 
  • Make sure to go through any significant side effects with your doctor or chemist.
  • SSRIs, or selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors. Many times, doctors will first recommend an SSRI. These drugs are believed to be safer and have fewer unwanted side effects than other antidepressants.
  • SSRIs include vilazodone (Viibryd), citalopram (Celexa), escitalopram (Lexapro), paroxetine (Paxil, Pexeva), fluoxetine (Prozac), and citalopram (Celexa).
  • SNRIs, or inhibitors of serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake. Some examples of SNRIs are duloxetine (Cymbalta), venlafaxine (Effexor XR), desvenlafaxine (Pristiq, Khedezla), and levomilnacipran (Fetzima).
  • Unconventional antidepressants. None of the other antidepressant classifications accurately describe these drugs. They include nefazodone, trazodone, and vortioxetine (Trintellix), as well as bupropion (Wellbutrin XL, Wellbutrin SR, Aplenzin, and Forfivo XL), mirtazapine (Remeron), and nefazodone.
  • Tricyclic mood stabilizers.These drugs, which also include doxepin, trimipramine (Surmontil), desipramine (Norpramin), amitriptyline (Vivactil), and protriptyline (Tofranil), can be extremely effective but typically have more severe adverse effects than more recent antidepressants. Tricyclics are therefore often not administered unless an SSRI has been tried and failed to alleviate your symptoms.
  • MAOIs, or monoamine oxidase inhibitors. MAOIs, such as isocarboxazid, phenelzine, and tranylcypromine (Parnate),
  • (Marplan) — can have substantial adverse effects, therefore it may be recommended, usually after other medications have failed. Due to potentially fatal interactions between various foods, including some cheeses, pickles, and wines, as well as some drugs and herbal supplements, using MAOIs necessitates adhering to a rigorous diet. Selegiline (Emsam), a more recent MAOI that is applied as a patch to the skin, could have fewer adverse effects than previous MAOIs. SSRIs cannot be used with these drugs.
  • Different medicines. To increase the effects of an antidepressant, other drugs may be used. Two antidepressants may be combined by your doctor, or other drugs like mood stabilisers or antipsychotics may be added. For short-term usage, anti-anxiety and stimulant drugs may also be administered.

Selecting the appropriate drug

If a member of your family has reacted well, it could be one that could benefit you with an antidepressant. Alternatively, you might need to try a number of drugs or a mix of drugs until you discover one that works. This calls for patience because it might take a few weeks or more for certain drugs to fully take action and for side effects to subside as your body becomes used to them.

Antidepressants might impact you differently depending on your inherited features. When available, the findings of genetic testing (conducted by a blood test or cheek swab) may in certain situations provide information about how your body may react to a specific antidepressant. Your reaction to medicine, however, might also be influenced by factors other than genetics.

Risks of discontinuing medicine suddenly

Be careful not to discontinue taking an antidepressant without first talking to your doctor. The use of antidepressants is considered addictive, although physical dependence—which differs from addiction—can occasionally happen.

Abruptly stopping medication or skipping multiple doses might result in withdrawal-like symptoms, and discontinuing soon can exacerbate depression. To safely and gradually reduce your dosage, consult your doctor.

Pregnancy and antidepressants

Some antidepressants may raise the health risk to your unborn child or the child you are breastfeeding if you are pregnant or nursing. If you get pregnant or intend to become pregnant, see your doctor.

Medicine for depression and an increased risk of suicide

Although the majority of antidepressants are typically safe, all antidepressants have the harshest caution for prescriptions—the black box warning—on the label. Young people under the age of 25 may on occasion experience individuals using antidepressants, particularly in the first few weeks or following a dosage modification, experience an upsurge in suicidal thoughts or actions.

Antidepressant users should be constantly monitored for increasing depression or strange behaviour, particularly when starting a new medicine or changing the dosage. Call your doctor immediately away or get emergency help if you or someone you know is taking an antidepressant and experiencing suicidal thoughts.

Keep in mind that antidepressants have a higher chance of reducing the risk of suicide over time via improving mood.


The word "psychotherapy" refers to the process of treating depression by talking with a mental health expert about your illness and any associated problems. Talk therapy or psychological treatment are additional names for psychotherapy.

Many kinds of depression include cognitive behavioural treatment (CBT), interpersonal therapy (IT), and others. Additionally, your mental health specialist could suggest other kinds of therapy. You can benefit from treatment by:

  • Prepare for a disaster or other continuing situation
  • Find unhealthy, constructive beliefs and behaviours, and replace them.
  • Investigate relationships and experiences, and cultivate friendly ties with others.
  • Find better approaches to deal with and resolve issues.
  • Determine the causes of your depression and alter the behaviours that worsen it.
  • Gain back your feeling of fulfillment and control over your life and lessen the symptoms of depression, such as hopelessness and rage.
  • Set reasonable goals for yourself.
  • Learn to bear and embrace discomfort by adopting better habits

Alternative therapy forms. There are formats for depression treatment that may be used instead of in-person office visits and may be a good choice for certain persons. For instance, therapy can be delivered as a computer programme, through online sessions, or by utilising films or workbooks. Programmes may be largely or entirely autonomous or directed by a therapist.

Consult your therapist about these formats to see whether they would be beneficial for you before deciding on one of them. Additionally, ask your therapist if they can suggest a reputable programme or resource. Some might not be covered by your insurance, and not all online therapists and developers hold the necessary certifications or qualifications.

Mobile health applications for smartphones and tablets, including those for assistance and general education are not a replacement for talking to your doctor or therapist about your depression.

Residential and hospital care

Some people's depression may be so severe that they need to stay in the hospital. If you can not take care of yourself properly or if you are at urgent risk of hurting yourself or another person, this may be essential. Up until your mood improves, hospital-based psychiatric care can keep you secure and peaceful. 

Some persons may benefit from day therapy programmes or partial hospitalisation. These programmes offer the outpatient assistance and counselling needed to manage symptoms.

Alternative therapies

Other treatments, frequently referred to as brain stimulation therapy, may be recommended for some patients:

  • ECT, or electroconvulsive treatment. ECT involves passing electrical currents through the brain to alter its function and the way your brain's neurotransmitters work to combat sadness. Those who are at a high risk of suicide or who are unable to take antidepressants due to health concerns typically benefit from ECT.
  • TMS stands for transcranial magnetic stimulation. For individuals who have not responded to medications, TMS may be an alternative. Brief magnetic pulses are sent through a treatment coil across your scalp during TMS to stimulate the brain's mood-regulating and depressive nerve cells.

Complications of Clinical Depression

A major disease like depression may have a negative impact on you and your family. If depression is not addressed, it frequently grows worse, leading to emotional, behavioural, and physical issues that have an impact on every aspect of your life.

Examples of depression-related problems include:

  • Being overweight, or obese, increases the risk of developing diabetes and heart disease.
  • Ache 
  • Physical ailment
  • Abuse of drugs or alcohol
  • Panic disorder, anxiety, or social phobia
  • Troubles with the family, in relationships, and at job or at school
  • Social isolation 
  • Suicidal thoughts, attempts, or thoughts of suicide
  • Cuts and other forms of self-mutilation 
  • Premature death as a result of circumstances


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Page last reviewed: May 23, 2023

Next review due: May 23, 2025

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