Major depressive disorder (MDD) is a serious health concern throughout the world. As such, numerous studies have focused on identifying the risk factors for depression in an effort to combat this mental health condition. MDD can negatively impact nearly every area of one’s life, including relationships, careers, academics, social adjustments, physical health, and even financial condition. The serious effects of MDD led researchers to examine the differences between individuals with persistent MDD and those with recurring bouts of MDD. By better understanding the factors that increase these patterns, clinicians can work with clients to address those that can be changed and learn ways to cope with those that cannot.
J. L. Wang of the Departments of Community Health Sciences and Psychiatry at the University of Calgary in Canada recently conducted a study that focused on working individuals with a history of MDD. Work conditions, such as environment, working hours, and work-related stress, are factors have been shown to influence mental health and well-being. Subsequent home issues, in particular work-family conflict, also impact the overall psychological state of an individual. Therefore, Wang looked at how work and family issues impacted the recurrence and persistence of MDD in a sample of 834 working adults for a period of 1 year.
The study revealed that 13% of the participants experienced a reccurrence of MDD that was precipitated by work-family stress and MDD severity prior to the recurrence. The participants with a history of phobia and extended working hours exhibited more persistent MDD, representing over 38% of the participants. Together, these findings suggest that stressors including anxiety, negative mood, rumination, and stress related to work and family issues directly contribute to the risk of perpetuating depressive symptoms in those with a history of MDD. Although the rates of MDD revealed in this study were significantly higher than in previous studies, this study examined working individuals in 2008, during a period of global economic downturn. Wang believes that clinicians can help individuals with MDD by targeting symptom severity and comorbid anxiety problems. Wang added, “They may also provide suggestions on changing relevant psychosocial factors to minimize the chance of persistence and/or recurrence of MDD.”
Wang, J. L., Patten, S. B., Currie, S., Sareen, J., Schmitz, N. (2012). Predictors of 1-year outcomes of major depressive disorder among individuals with a lifetime diagnosis: A population-based study. Psychological Medicine, 42.2, 327-334.
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