Which factors increase the risk of major depressive disorder (clinical depression)?

Updated: Aug 06, 2020
  • Author: Jerry L Halverson, MD; Chief Editor: David Bienenfeld, MD  more...
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Although major depressive disorder can arise without any precipitating stressors, stress and interpersonal losses certainly increase risk. For example, loss of a parent before the age of 10 years increases the risk of later depression. Cognitive-behavioral models of depression posit that negative cognitions and underlying all-or-nothing schemata contribute to and perpetuate depressed mood. [28]

Chronic pain, medical illness, and psychosocial stress can also play a role in major depressive disorder. Older adults may find medical illness psychologically distressing, and these illnesses may lead to increased disability, decreased independence, and disruption of social networks. [32] Chronic aversive symptoms such as pain associated with chronic medical illness may disrupt sleep and other biorhythms leading to depression.

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