Depression is a very common illness in the community. Experts estimate that close to 1 in 10 people will have a bout of depression at some point in their life. Depression is most common in people between the ages of 15 and 45 years but can occur at any age group. For this reason it is important to check for depression in all age groups, and especially in people that are at higher risk.

How do I know if I have depression?
Experts recommend that doctors ask people the following two simple questions to help determine if they may be depressed:

  1. In the last month, have you experienced little interest or pleasure in doing things?
  2. In the last month, have you been feeling down, depressed, or hopeless?

If you answered "yes" to either of these questions, it would be beneficial to make an appointment and discuss this with your doctor.

Am I at a higher risk of depression?
Although depression can happen in almost anyone, there are some people that are at higher risk of becoming depressed. These risk factors are listed in Table 1.

What is important to remember is that if you have a condition or issue listed in Table 1, it does not mean that you will become depressed. It just means that you are at a higher risk of depression and you should bring it to the attention of your doctor if you start to experience symptoms of depression.

Table 1: People at higher risk of depression
  • past history of depression
  • family history of depression
  • being female
  • having a family history of suicide
  • having a family member with a history of alcohol or drug abuse
  • having a history of alcohol or drug abuse
  • having experienced child abuse or neglect
  • having experienced a stressful life event, such as the death of a loved one or the loss of a job
  • having very few friends or personal relationships
  • recently delivered a baby (called postpartum depression)
  • having a comorbid illness such as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder or a learning disability
  • being a victim of a major trauma
  • having a chronic medical condition such as:
    • emphysema
    • multiple sclerosis
    • back problems
    • cancer
    • epilepsy
    • heart disease
    • stroke
    • diabetes
    • chronic pain