7 Reasons Why Depression is Getting More Common
According to the World Health Organization (2019), depression is defined as a mental disorder that results in a lasting sadness, loss of interest in activities that usually bring joy, alongside the lack of motivation to perform daily tasks. It is also often linked with suicide and anxiety disorders. It is also stated that “an estimate of more than 300 million people of all ages suffer from depression, and is the leading cause of disability worldwide” (World Health Organization 2019). Welch (2017) reports that there has been a 4.5% increase in adolescents’ reports of having symptoms of depression. In this article, I will be sharing 5 reasons why depression is getting more common in our society.
An article by Faris (2016) states that a person who has family members that have suffered from depression are also likely to develop it. Although environmental factors play a part in the risks of developing depression, genetics could also be a possibility. Do you know of any family members that have depression? If so, it could be linked to genetics as well as other factors of influence.
According to Levinson and Nichols (2019), the cause of depression from hereditary is at an estimate of 40% to 50% and may be higher for severe cases of depression. Although there is no concrete answer to point out that depression is purely caused by genetics, its possibility as one of the causes, is not ruled out as well.
2. Prevalence of Mental Health Awareness
In the society we live in today, mental health awareness is becoming increasingly prevalent. Comparing to 20 years ago, the topic of mental health could still be more stigmatized. By having more awareness on mental disorders such as depression, people have started to become more self-aware and notice that mental disorders are important health issues that have to be acknowledged. As awareness increases, it can also lead people into feeling that depression is becoming more common.
In fact, there is a Mental Health Awareness Day that is on the 10th of October every year to increase awareness of the importance of mental health. This occasion was first observed in 1992, founded by Deputy Secretary General Richard Hunter (World Federation for Mental Health 2019).
3. Less Stigmatization
Similar to the point above, more awareness of the importance of mental health would generally lead to more discourse on the topic. “Internalized stigma occurs when an individual recognizes and applies public stigma to themselves, based on their membership in the stigmatized group” (Sheehan et al. 2017). The stigma of mental disorders has existed for generations and can sometimes prevent a person from seeking the help they require as they may fear discrimination or stereotype.
As mental disorders are acknowledged more as a health issue, the stigma of mental disorders would gradually reduce because more people are able to learn and understand the importance of mental health disorders. As awareness on mental disorders become more prevalent, a reduce in stigma and stereotypes would also encourage people who suffer to seek professional help. Depression being one of the more prevalent disorders, could potentially result in it becoming more common as well.
4. Unchecked Stress
An article by Baune (2009) reports of a study conducted to research on the relationship between stress and depression and states that an individual is likely to develop not only depression but is also more prone to falling sick when subjected to high levels of stress. As society advances, we often find ourselves struggling to keep up with certain aspects of our lives.
The stress from trying to keep up can be detrimental to our mental health if left unchecked. This can be from being overwhelmed by work, school or other aspects of their lives. This form of stress can often lead to anxiety, which may also lead to depression. Thus, it is highly possible that stress is one of the reasons to why depression is becoming more common.
5. Social Media
A study by Aalbers et al. (2019) examined the relationship between Passive Social Media Use (PSMU) and the symptoms of depression. The findings showed that individuals who spent more time passively using social media, had experienced higher levels of inferior feelings, loneliness, hopelessness and depressed mood.
With social media being a daily activity for most people, what they view on social media may affect their expectations and perceptions of certain things. As many posts on social media tend to focus on the positive aspects of a person’s life, viewers may start finding small comparisons between themselves and to the person they engage with on social media. These small comparisons often warp the perceptions of people into possibly feeling inferior about themselves. These feelings of inferiority may manifest into potential symptoms of depression.
According to Junoven et al. (2008), no less than 72% of youths aged 12 to 17 years old living in the US encounter cyberbullying activity. Bullying in any aspect can have adverse effects on a person’s mental well-being (Nilan et al. 2015).
In today’s digital age, bullying has evolved. For example, in a school environment, physical bullying can be stopped when the victim reports the bully. However, cyberbullying has the ability to carry on even outside of a school environment and is most likely anonymous. Receiving hateful comments can significantly harm a person’s mental well-being. With social media being commonly used, it can be one of the reasons why depression is getting more common.
7. Loss of A Loved One
A study conducted by Boelen et al. (2016) examined the relationship of prolonged grief disorder and depression. It found that as time passes after loss, a person may still experience feelings of depression and prolonged grief disorder. Usually for most people, time may ease emotional distress, but for others it may not be the case.
Despite being a part and parcel of life, experiencing the loss of a loved one can have a significant impact on an individual. Although most people slowly adapt, they may still be suffering from depression inside. Therefore, if this form of emotional distress is not handled properly, it could lead to a case of depression.
With mental disorders such as depression becoming more common in society, it is important to know how to recognize these symptoms and to know when to seek professional help. Mental wellness is important for all of us. Having a mental disorder does not dehumanize us and the stigma of mental disorders should be reduced as it is a critical barrier preventing people from engaging the help they need.
It is also important to take breaks when feeling stressed as a good practice of mental wellness. In addition, if you feel that social media is affecting your mental wellness, disconnecting for a few hours or days can help. Do also note that social media posts are not accurate representatives of a person’s life. Dealing with the loss of a loved one can be difficult, but having proper bereavement support can potentially make it easier. Always remember that you are not alone and family, even friends, are there for you.
Aalbers, George, Richard J. McNally, Alexandre Heeren, Sanne de Wit, and Eiko I. Fried. 2019. “Social Media And Depression Symptoms: A Network Perspective.”. Journal Of Experimental Psychology: General 148 (8): 1454-1462.
Baune, Bernhard. 2009. “Conceptual Challenges Of A Tentative Model Of Stress-Induced Depression”. Plos ONE 4 (1): e4266.
Boelen, Paul A., Albert Reijntjes, A.A.A. Manik J. Djelantik, and Geert E. Smid. 2016. “Prolonged Grief And Depression After Unnatural Loss: Latent Class Analyses And Cognitive Correlates”. Psychiatry Research 240: 358-363.
Faris, Stephanie. 2019. “Is Depression Genetic Or Environmental? | Healthline”. Healthline. https://www.healthline.com/health/depression/genetic.
Juvonen, Jaana, and Elisheva F. Gross. 2008. “Extending the School Grounds? – Bullying Experiences In Cyberspace”. Journal of School Health 78 (9): 496-505.
Levinson, Douglas F., and Walter E. Nichols. 2019. “Major Depression And Genetics”. Genetics Of Brain Function. http://med.stanford.edu/depressiongenetics/mddandgenes.html.
Nilan, Pam, Haley Burgess, Mitchell Hobbs, Steven Threadgold, and Wendy Alexander. 2015. “Youth, Social Media, And Cyberbullying Among Australian Youth: “Sick Friends””. Social Media + Society 1 (2)
Sheehan, Lindsay, Rachel Dubke, and Patrick W. Corrigan. 2017. “The Specificity Of Public Stigma: A Comparison Of Suicide And Depression-Related Stigma”. Psychiatry Research 256: 40-45.
Welch, Ashley. 2019. “Depression, Anxiety, Suicide Increase In Teens And Young Adults, Study Finds”. Cbsnews.Com. https://www.cbsnews.com/news/suicide-depression-anxiety-mental-health-issues-increase-teens-young-adults/.
“What is Depression”. 2019. World Health Organization. https://www.who.int/mental_health/management/depression/en/.
“World Mental Health Day History”. 2019. World Federation For Mental Health. https://wfmh.global/world-mental-health-day/.