7 Reasons Why We Are Vulnerable to Depression

Archie Lee
Archie Lee is a diverse author who strives for personal excellence through a commitment to volunteerism in his community, helping it to achieve its full ethnic, health, political and social potential. Archie Lee graduated from the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff in 2005 with a Bachelor of Arts in Sociology and a commission in the U.S. Army. An active member of the Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity since 2006, he also earned a Masters Degree in Management in 2009. Archie Lee is a strong advocate in social psychology. As a relationship expert and youth counselor, he loves social interaction and identifying character traits with people in general, primarily studying human social interaction.

Oct 24,2016

People’s thoughts and attitudes explain why some develop depression (link is external)following stressful life events. The following list provides an overview of various vulnerability factors that put a person at risk for developing depression. There are indications (link is external)that these distorted beliefs precede the initial onset of depression. Thus, improving faulty thinking may help to prevent depressive mood.

  1. Being stuck in negative thoughts.

Depressed individuals are prone to ruminate (link is external)on negative thoughts. Unfortunately, this tends to maintain or amplify negative thinking. For example, the thoughts of someone suffering from depression following a bitter divorce might take the form of regret (“I should have been a better spouse”), and anxiety about the future (“How will the kids deal with it?”). The urge to repetitively think about the causes and consequences of the event may prevent depressed people from using effective coping strategies.

  1. Feeling depleted.

The opposite of depression is not happiness but vitality and resilience. Individuals with depression lack the ability to flexibly shift attention away from negative information. As a result, they become more vulnerable to the intrusion of distracting thoughts. This reduced ability makes it difficult for depressed individuals to redirect their attention away from negative thoughts.

  1. Lack of motivation.

Depressed people can feel purposeless and almost any activity/task becomes a challenge. (link is external)Depression reflects a shift in cost-benefit analysis, and consequently in impaired decision-making. Dopamine deficiency in depressed people may specifically increase their valuation costs (e.g., time, effort) along with the decrease in satisfaction from their normal daily activities and interactions. The result: A lack of motivation and action.


  1. Biased memory.

Depression is associated with recall of negative events—this happens automatically. The memories of past failures and the images of feared future scenarios further worsen one’s mood. In contrast, recalling positive memories of life events can improve a person’s mood.

  1. Pursuing unattainable goals.

Depressed individuals may continue pursuing a failing goal (link is external)(e.g., inability to leave a troubled marriage, or pursuing a dream that they cannot achieve) and dwell on their failure to achieve the goal. People who disengage from seemingly impossible goals are mentally healthier than those who stay entrapped. Giving up frustrating goals creates opportunities.

  1. Self-medication.

One troublesome behavioral response that can make depression worse is self-medication of mood through heavy consumption of drugs and alcohol. This strategy provides relief in the very short run but contributes to one’s depression in the long run. For example, binge eaters have greater rates of depression and anxiety compared to the general population (link is external). Addiction and eating disorders may be the tip of an emotional iceberg that will cause trouble in the future if we ignore them.

  1. Personality type.

Depression occurs at least in part due to personality styles (e.g., neuroticism). Neurotic traits lead to depression through poor coping with stressors. Highly neurotic people worry about bad things that may or may not happen, and are more vigilant about threats, even those that are distant, hidden, or subtle. Moreover, others often experience neurotic individuals as difficult to deal with. This makes them less desirable be around, leaving them to experience more isolation and rejection.   

More than just about feeling blue, depression isn’t a weakness and you can’t simply “snap out” of it. Depression may require long-term treatment. But don’t get discouraged. Most people with depression feel better with medication, psychological counseling or both.

Archie Lee, Author of That’s The Way She Is: What Jack Needs to Know About, Good Intentions Publishing, 2016

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