Risk factors that can compromise mental wellness and depression

Spring and summer months are peak times to focus on improving physical fitness. While it’s important to be physically fit, May is also recognized as Mental Health Awareness Month. This makes it a great time to examine one’s mental health as well.
Dr. James Ervin of Family Medical Clinic of Crystal Springs insists, “Now could not be a more important time to address the topic of mental health due to the stressful tasks of working from home and home schooling, as well as the isolating factors our communities are experiencing from the COVID-19 pandemic. These uncontrollable situations could, unfortunately, be a trigger for those already suffering from depressive issues.”
The World Health Organization defines mental wellness as “a state of well-being in which the individual realizes his or her own abilities, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and is able to make a contribution to his or her society.” Men and women who are mentally unwell may find it difficult, if not impossible, to achieve their other goals, including those pertaining to their physical fitness.
No one is immune to mental health problems, which the American Mental Wellness Association (AMWA) notes are never the result of a single risk factor. Many people whose mental wellness has been compromised are dealing with a variety of risk factors. The AMWA breaks down those risk factors into four categories: biophysical, psychological, social, and spiritual. Learning these risk factors can help people learn more about themselves and might even compel them to seek help before their mental wellness is compromised.
Biophysical
Family history of mental health problems
Complications during pregnancy or birth
Personal history of traumatic brain injury
Chronic medical conditions, such as cancer or diabetes. Hypothyroidism or other brain-related illnesses, such as Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s disease, also can compromise mental wellness.
Use of alcohol or drugs
Poor nutrition
Lack of sleep
Psychological
Stressful life situations, such as financial problems or breaking the law
Traumatic life experiences, such as sexual assault or serving in the armed forces
Low self-esteem, perceived incompetence, and/or a negative view of life
Poor academic achievement
Social
Being abused or neglected as a child
Being in an abusive relationship or friendship
Having few friends or few healthy relationships
Recent loss, either by death, divorce, or other means
Bullying – both victims of bullying and perpetrators can be at risk for mental health problems
Growing up or currently living in poverty
Poor social and communication skills
Discrimination
Lack of access to
support services
Spiritual
Perception of being irredeemable or inherently flawed
beyond repair
Perception of insignificance
Conflicting thoughts or doubts surrounding deep religious beliefs
It’s normal to experience feelings of sadness and grief from time to time. But, when these feelings are prolonged or interfere with daily life, they may be symptomatic of depression.
Depression can affect anyone regardless of age, gender, or economic status. The National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) says around 350 million people worldwide suffer from depression. Understanding depression can help those dealing with the disorder.
What is depression?
Depression is a mood disorder that causes persistent feelings of sadness and loss of interest. The Mayo Clinic says depression can produce a variety of symptoms and affect the way a person thinks, acts, and feels. Symptoms may include changes in sleeping patterns, anxiety, fatigue, weight gain or weight loss, unexplained aches and pains, and difficulty concentrating.
What causes depression?
Although the cause of depression remains a mystery, certain distinguishing factors are common among those who have the condition. People with clinical depression appear to have physical changes in their brains. In addition, naturally-occurring brain chemicals known as neurotransmitters likely play a role in depression. The Mayo Clinic states changes in the function and effect of these neurotransmitters and how they interact with neurocircuits involved in maintaining mood stability may play a significant role in depression and its treatment.
In addition to biological factors in the brain, hormones can impact rates of depression or even trigger it. These hormone shifts may be a leading reason why women have higher incidence rates of depression than men.
Depression is more common in people whose blood relatives also have the condition. Therefore, those with a family history of depression may be more likely to get it than those without such a connection.
Different types of
depression
There are different types of depression. A person may have a single bout of major depression or recurring episodes. Depression that lasts two or more years is called persistent depressive disorder. A less common type of depression is called manic-depressive illness. This involves cycles of depression that alternate with extreme highs, or manias.
Treating depression
Depression is a very treatable condition. The NIMH says people who suspect they may be suffering from depression should make an appointment to see a doctor or healthcare provider. The sooner action is taken, the more quickly the condition can be addressed. It may take some time to find the right medication or treatment; therefore, people are urged to remain patient and hopeful.
If you or someone you love is showing signs of depression or sadness, the providers at Family Medical Clinic of Crystal Springs are there to help. Call 601-892-3063 today to set up an appointment.