Ask an Expert: The Causes of Depression
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- What are differences between depression and "the blues?" [1:32]
- What causes depression? [0:54]
- Why is the age of onset (the first depressive episode) dropping? [1:09]
- Why do women have higher rates of depression? [1:03]
Learn more about the causes of depression:
Why is the age of onset (the first depressive episode) dropping?
DR. CHARLES NEMEROFF: So whether or not the rate of depression is increasing might be a matter of debate. What isn't a debate is the age of onset of depression is clearly dropping, so that thirty years ago, the average person had their first depressive episode in their late forties or early fifties. The average age of onset right now in The United States is 24 years of age. And you know what? We don't know why that is.
There are a lot of theories about it. They relate to increased levels of stress, the sort of 24/7 society we live in, more concerns about terrorism, more concerns about global warming, and more concerns about just the family structure, concerns that the nuclear family isn't really there to provide support. We know that social support is a tremendous buffer against these stressors. So it's probably a combination of factors.