Well-Being May Be an Effective Predictor of Depression

Well-being has long been associated with psychological health. In the study on internalizing problems, such as anxiety and depression, well-being has been shown to have a predictive value in that negative well-being increases the risk of these problems. Existing research has focused on several factors that influence well-being, including childhood maltreatment, history of abuse, previous psychological distress, and demographic traits. Further, much of the existing research on well-being and psychological health has been conducted longitudinally.

But Faren Grant of the Department of Psychology at the University of Maryland Baltimore County wanted to see if assessing well-being could predict short term changes in mood and specifically, risk of depression. To test this theory, Grant followed a group of more than 1,600 medical students during their first 12 months of practical internship. The students were evaluated at baseline and every three months during a one year period for signs of well-being, stress, depression, and other psychological characteristics.

Grant found that as early as the first three-month assessment, low well-being was able to indicate risk of depression. Over the 12-month study period, the students with the lowest well-being had the highest levels of depression. Stress was a significant predictor of low well-being in this sample, and indirectly increased the risk of depression.

In sum, Grant believes the findings of this study provide a novel and effective approach for assessing risk of depression. For high risk individuals, particularly those with a history of psychological conditions, family or childhood maltreatment, distress, or other issues, evaluating well-being could prove very insightful and could allow for early intervention and perhaps even prevention of depressive symptoms.

Caregivers and family members should be aware of signs of low well-being and should be educated on ways to help individuals increase well-being in high-risk individuals. Taking these precautionary steps could decrease depressive symptoms on an individual level and could lessen the financial, emotional, and global burden of the condition. Grant concluded by saying, “These findings suggest that clinicians and researchers should assess well-being when they determine the risk for depression in their patients and participants.”

Reference:
Grant, F., Guille, C., Sen, S. (2013). Well-being and the risk of depression under stress. PLoS ONE 8(7): e67395. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0067395

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  • Jim

    Jim

    July 30th, 2013 at 11:28 PM

    With depression now becoming a major issue around the world this study bodes well to identify those at risk.it gives a god tool to target people that could be at risk and this targeting may well be the avenue for preventive steps taken in time.now for the implementation and adoption of the findings to bring an actual change.

  • E.Q

    E.Q

    July 31st, 2013 at 9:14 PM

    Depression can be controlled!its decided by what you choose to concentrate on and whether that par of your life is good.
    So if you’re only concerned about money then you’d be depressed no matter how muh money you have.vecause you’re always wanting more!
    Concentrate on relationships and nurturing them while following a few basics and there’s definitely gonna be a lot less depression in your life!
    Works for me and I hope more of you try this.depression is all in the mind and depends on what and how you choose to look at things.

  • katie

    katie

    August 1st, 2013 at 4:29 AM

    There are so many other factors at play here as well.

    You are looking at family history, a whole host of other circumstances that even in the best of situations could lead to depressive episodes.

    Furthermore, these are students under very stressful situations, and any of us faced with this same sort of stress could be more prone to feeling depressed than that same person in a totally different job environment.

    However, it would be nice to know that there are all looking out for one another, wouldn’t it?

  • JESSICA

    JESSICA

    August 1st, 2013 at 8:25 PM

    How good you feel deep inside has a major role to play in how you perceive things. Depression can and will be affected by this feeling. So I’m not really surprised here.

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