Identifying Risk for Reccurring and Persisting Depression

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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  • Harley


    May 8th, 2012 at 3:47 PM

    This is such a good indicator for determining who might be at the most risk for developing recurrent bouts of depression. If we know ahead of time who may be the most at risk, then there is a better chance of obtaining the help that they need early, before the illness gets terribly out of hand.

  • Grace T

    Grace T

    May 9th, 2012 at 4:10 AM

    The worst thing about all of this is that we may have a pretty good idea of the factors that contribute to this and also provide people with ways that as an adult they can hopefully stave off another episode, or at least the things that they can do so that it is not as bad as it could have been.
    But what about the childrenn and young adults whom we don’t know yet will have to gace this in their lives? For the most part they are probably too young to even recognize that they are in the midst of factors that could cause them to become depressed, and rarely will they have the ability to extract themselves from these sorts of situations.
    For many of them they will not even recognize that they need help until they are at least young adults, and by them for many the patterns and cycles of behavior have already been set and become even more difficult to change.

  • TravGood


    May 9th, 2012 at 1:16 PM

    Looks like in a lot of these cases not only is there going to be a need for individual therapy, but perhaps family therapy could be the order of the day too. For a lot of people, the depression and anxiety that they feel is directly related to the homes where they live. There is no good example for them to follow for how to ask for help or even how to cope when it comes to stressful situations. Teach the family the best ways to deal, and the lookout for the kids have to in turn get better too.

  • deidra samms

    deidra samms

    May 10th, 2012 at 4:22 AM

    Depression like this is not something that is easy to contain. For many it goes back generations in a family, and the cycle only continues perpetuating itself.

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