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6 Personality Risk Factors for Depression

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risk factors for depression

Depression may be more closely associated with feelings of hopelessness rather than feelings of sadness, which typically characterize the disorder. Sadness is a normal human emotion that everyone experiences. As sadness tends to be associated with a specific event, crying or venting about the situation can improve one’s mood, but for people who experience depression, they often feel like nothing they do makes a difference. This doesn’t necessarily mean that they are choosing the wrong coping mechanisms. There are a variety of risk factors for depression associated with one’s personality that affect the way young adults view themselves, the people around them, and their ability to cope with stress.

How Common is Depression?

Rates of depression are skyrocketing among young women, who are more than twice as likely to be diagnosed as males. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, over the past year, 13% of young adults ages 18-25 have experienced a major depressive episode. Over the course of one’s lifetime, 20% of Americans experience a major depressive episode lasting at least two weeks. 

It can be difficult to differentiate between clinical depression and depressed mood; however, there are several key differences regarding impairment in other areas of one’s life, the number of symptoms, and the duration of depressive episodes. Clinical depression can last months or years if untreated, but depression moods are more transient.

Personality Risk Factors for Depression

As research suggests that depression can exist as both as a disorder and a normal reaction, it is important to pay attention to risk factors that may predict major depressive episodes. While depression may be a normal reaction to environmental stressors, low self-esteem and limited social support can make these situations feel more overwhelming and hopeless.

Risk factors related to psychological traits may include:

  1. Those with high levels of general anxiety are at risk of depression because of their tendency to worry, catastrophize, and take things too personally.
  2. “Shy” people who have been bullied or humiliated in adolescence often view social interactions with others as threatening in comparison to the safety of their own company.
  3. Those who are “hypersensitive” to judgement by others. This could be praise or feeling they are being rejected or abandoned. 
  4. “Self-focused” individuals who blame others when things go wrong and prioritize their own needs tend to have a “short fuse” with others when feeling depressed.
  5. Those who experienced trauma in their early years often have low basic self-worth and are more likely to develop unhealthy relationships with others.
  6. Perfectionists who are prone to self-criticism and a loss of pride may also have a limited range of adaptive strategies when stressed.

Taking a Values-Based Approach to Managing Symptoms of Depression

Psychological traits that may put young adults at risk for more frequent depressive episodes aren’t necessarily negative qualities. Often, these traits stem from personal values of safety, self-discipline, perseverance, and connection. When struggling with symptoms of depression, young women often feel out of touch with their values or may try to follow them rigidly at the expense of self-compassion.

Transition programs, like Journey Home East, help young women create personal goals that are aligned with their personal values. We acknowledge that every individual has unique goals and different ways of measuring their personal progress. By encouraging young adults to consider how their values impact their goals, they are motivated to overcome barriers that have gotten in the way. 

As feelings of sadness and hopelessness can be persistent, many young women begin to identify with their depression as a fixed personality trait. Separating experiences of depression from their personal goals helps young adults consider what they want out of life and motivates them to take steps towards their goals. 

Journey Home East Can Help 

Journey Home East is a transitional living program for young women ages 16-21. This program focuses on helping women transition from long-term treatment to the real world. The idea is to ween them off support systems of being in programs for many years and hone in on functional living skills they need to be independent. Journey Home East helps with scheduling for school, classes, work, internships. This program also provides health coaching, relationship building, dating safety and personal safety tips. Students have the opportunity to equip themselves with the skills they need to lead healthy and successful lives post treatment. We can help your family today!

Contact us at 18552909684.