Age & Depression Risk

Although depression can occur at any age, its onset is typically between the ages 24 and 44. Later onset may correlate with the absence of a family history of depression. Fifty percent of people with major depressive disorder experience their first episode of depression at about age 40, but this may be may be shifting to the 30s. Studies find that the rate of incidence is higher among middle-aged people.

Teenagers are at risk for depression. The evidence is in teen suicide rates, which are increasing yearly. The growing rate of depression in this group may reflect growing pressure on young people to attend college and meet the high expectations of their peers and parents. Problems with self-esteem may result from failure or disinterest in meeting these expectations. Low self-esteem can lead to a negative perspective of life and depression.

Gender & Depression Risk

Major depressive disorder affects 10 percent of men and 20 percent of women. Hormonal differences may put women at a higher risk for depression. Hormone levels are influenced by pregnancy, and many women experience depression after giving birth.

The disparity between rates of depression in men and women may reflect behaviors based on learned gender roles. Learned helplessness and socioeconomic stressors may result in depression in women. The socialization of men, which demands self-sufficiency and emotional toughness, may cause depression in men and may prevent them from seeking treatment.

Publication Review By: the Editorial Staff at

Published: 03 Feb 2001

Last Modified: 11 Sep 2013