No one is immune from depression and anxiety whether or not it’s in their biological makeup. “We don’t know what causes depression,” says Dr. Debra Kissen, the clinical director of Light on Anxiety Treatment Center who works with the Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA). “Some people do have more of a biological predisposition, and it may be triggered by life challenges that create feelings of hopelessness.
“Others may have a challenging situation, such as trauma, loss, or something like diet or allergies that brings on an episode.”
Hitting any stage
Triggers can come at any age. Teenagers worried about college, young professionals worn down by work demands, mothers undergoing hormonal shifts following childbirth, older people who may be isolated or have poor diets are just a few examples. Depression and anxiety can even affect young children.
“When one is very little, anxiety and depression might look more like anger or irritability,” says Kissen. “After adolescence, the language is more consistent.”
Depression and anxiety can manifest in adults in a number of ways. “With depression, it’s more of a shutting down and loss of energy,” says Kissen. “Thoughts of suicide, feelings of hopelessness, loss of interest in activities that used to bring joy, feelings of being a failure, changes in eating behaviors and sleep patterns are all symptoms.”
Anxiety is often about the thoughts that plague sufferers. “People think, what if something bad happens? What if things aren’t okay? There are lots of different forms of anxiety,” Kissen explains. “But what they have in common is that they’re ineffective ways to handle life when it feels hard or scary.”
No matter your age, if you think you have depression or anxiety it is important to take action. “Check in with your primary care physician to rule out something physical,” says Kissen. “Therapy can be an option, even if it’s just a couple of booster sessions to help you out of a stuck place.”