How Severe Can Depression Get?

How Severe Can Depression Get?

The intensity of depression varies greatly depending on a number of factors. Its primary source isn’t known, but elements such as environment, life events, loneliness, stress, unemployment, or being in an unhealthy relationship can all impact its severity.

Generally, it does not result from a single event, but from a combination of recent events and other longer-term or personal factors. Whether factors affect someone may depend on the person, the intensity of their situation, how they react to life triggers, and being at a greater risk due to family history.

severity of depression

Personal Issues

There are several issues unique to each individual that can influence the severity of their depression:

  • Personality — If a person has low self-esteem or self-worth, they subject themselves to depression more easily by internalizing negativity from the outside world. They begin to own this negativity as if any particular situation that didn’t turn out right was their fault. Other traits these same people tend to have are being self-critical, being perfectionists, and having a tendency to worry a lot.
  • Family history — Some people will be at an increased risk due to a family history of depression. While genetics can play a part, the intensity can vary based on external factors such as low self-esteem and not feeling worthwhile. However, while having a genetic predisposition to depression does put a person at a higher risk for developing it, that does not mean that the individual will necessarily get depression.
  • Drug and alcohol use — Both can lead to, and be a result of, depression. Many people with depression have drug and alcohol problems. Often depressed people turn to “self-medication,” as it is often called, to mask the depressed feelings they are having as a result of other environmental reasons. Those who tend to drink too much or use drugs recreationally can also get depressed directly because of their use.
  • Having a serious medical illness — Medical problems, especially chronic ones, can involve long-term management of symptoms, including pain, which by itself can cause depression. A serious illness can bring about depression, and so can the symptoms that accompany it. The stress and worry associated with managing an illness can also take its toll on someone’s mental health and well-being.

Chemical Changes in the Brain

Because depression can be the result of a chemical imbalance, sometimes medications can be necessary, even if only for a short period of time. Antidepressants can correct faulty mood regulation in the brain and help bring a depressed person back to an even keel. With the help of both antidepressants and therapy, they can start working on deflecting the negative thoughts that are causing them to be depressed. Effective medical treatment can stimulate the new growth of nerve cells in circuits that regulate mood. This is thought to play a critical part in recovery from some of the more severe cases.

It is usually a combination of factors that contribute to a person becoming depressed. You cannot always identify the causes of depression or change the difficult circumstances that can result from it. The primary concern should be to recognize the symptoms and seek help immediately.

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