Depression: Do Our Habits Make Us More Vulnerable?

Depression is a very common problem, with some estimates stating that one in four Americans will experience a major bout at least once in their life. In some cases, depression develops during a low period in one’s life, such as the loss of a loved one, the end of a long relationship, or the loss of a job. But other times, depression can seemingly come out of nowhere. Now that antidepressants have been in use for a number of years, many people are recognizing that depression is not so easily “solved.” Often, there are mental patterns, experiences, and other hurdles that need to be addressed through therapy or counseling, and dealt with over time, to truly heal from depression.

But there may be other factors at play, as well. Dr. Steven Ilardi, associate professor of clinical psychology at the University of Kansas says that our lifestyles may be predisposing us to depression. We have not evolved to be as socially isolated and physically inactive as many of us are, says Ilardi. In a recent feature for CBS News, Ilardi laid out a series of what he calls “depression traps”: ten lifestyle factors that he believes either directly contribute to, or at least make people vulnerable to, depression.

Some of Ilardi’s advice has to do with diet. With too much reliance on sugars and refined carbohydrates, he says, we not only provide ‘bad’ fuel to the body and brain, but also are missing out on Omega-3’s and essential vitamins known to keep our brains running in tiptop shape. Another group of unhelpful lifestyle factors addresses physical habits. A lack of exercise deprives us of endorphins and the chance to feel more connected with our bodies. A lack of time outdoors deprives us of healthy sun exposure and time to clear our heads. A lack of adequate sleep doesn’t give our bodies or minds the time they need to fully process and recover from the day. Finally, social and personal habits that may put people at higher risk for depression. Reacting to stress by pulling away from others only increases the stress’s impact. Spending time around people who bring us down can reinforce or even trigger depressive thoughts. And Trap #10: “Failing to Get Help” in the form of therapy or counseling when you know something doesn’t feel right.

© Copyright 2010 by By John Smith. All Rights Reserved. Permission to publish granted to

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  • KC

    August 13th, 2010 at 10:44 AM

    depression affects the mind and so cannot just be solved by popping a goes much beyond that.

    depression can make the liveliest of persons feel low and gloomy and can even spread from one person to another.just a reason to actually stay away from this and always be cheerful and happy :)

  • abel

    August 14th, 2010 at 4:10 AM

    it is very sad to know that with all the advancement in science and technology and everything we are still suffering from some things like depression and that the modern lifestyle is actually playing a role in the increase in such cases.we really need to fix this.

  • Paul Friar

    August 14th, 2010 at 7:58 AM

    Definately seeing how the other half live all the time has an effect on our mental wellbeing.
    I am sick of seeing on the tv, or reading online or in the newspapers that yet another celebrity has spent an absolute fortune on a handbag or something else, then on the next page there will be an article on thousands of people being homeless and starving, or the elderly not having enough money to afford to turn on their heating in winter.
    The modern world is enough to make you feel sick!

  • sandy h

    August 14th, 2010 at 8:10 AM

    I am not placing blame but I think that there are some people who want to stay depressed because they are not sure what they would be otherwise. That has become their signature, their crutch.

  • nicole123

    August 15th, 2010 at 6:57 AM

    My grandmother always kept her curtains closed, never went anywhere, stayed depressed most of her adult life. I would walk out of her house feeling depressed too.

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