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15 Signs That You’re at Risk for Depression

Feb. 25, 2023 Psychology Today

Recent research has shown that nearly half of us will develop major depression at some point in our lives (Schaefer et al., 2017). Knowing when you’re most at risk can tell you when to take steps to prevent an episode. Watch for these 15 signs:

1. A history of depression

No surprises here: One of the most reliable predictors of depression is having been depressed in the past. The risk is 50% after one bout of depression (not much higher than for the average person), but fully 90% after three episodes (Moriarty et al., 2020).

2. High neuroticism

Those who are high in the personality trait of neuroticism tend to experience a lot of negative emotion. Not surprisingly, neuroticism raises the risk for depression—especially when a person experiences loss or other forms of stress (Vinkers et al., 2014).

3. Overwhelming anxiety

Anxiety tends to shrink our lives through avoidance, which cuts out rewarding activities such as social contact; depression is a common result. For example, social anxiety disorder raises the risk of depression by about 50% (Beesdo et al., 2007).

4. Insomnia

Trouble sleeping isn’t just a symptom of depression; it can also be a sign that depression is coming. Research shows that insomnia more than doubles the risk for depression (Li et al., 2016).

5. Adverse childhood experiences

One of the most consistent predictors of depression is negative experiences early in life. These events can include parents’ divorce, abuse, neglect, witnessing violence, a parent’s death, and other major experiences that can leave long-lasting marks (Vinkers et al., 2014).

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