Depression is more common in people who have a history of trauma, sexual abuse, physical abuse, physical disability, bereavement at a young age, alcoholism, and insufficient family structure. In adults, the loss of a spouse is the most common cause of a depressive episode. Women are at increased risk for depression during and within the first few months after pregnancy (called postpartum depression). Chronic depression may be more common in areas afflicted with war, natural disasters, poverty, or neglect.

There is no evidence that depression strikes certain personality types more than others. However, temperament and perception of self and others may be predisposing factors. The following cognitive factors (which affect judgment and perception) are associated with depression:

  • Chronic low self-esteem
  • Distorted perception of others' views
  • Distorted sense of life experience
  • Inability to acknowledge personal accomplishment
  • Negative idea of self
  • Pessimistic outlook
  • Quick and exaggerated temper

Race and Class & Depression Risk

Although there does not seem to be a correlation between depression and race or class, depression is diagnosed more often in Caucasians from the middle and upper classes. Caucasian psychiatrists may not recognize the condition in African Americans, Asians, or Latinos as frequently as it occurs. Differences in socioeconomic background may prevent psychiatrists from observing depression in people from lower economic classes; they simply cannot afford to seek medical attention for nonemergencies.

Publication Review By: the Editorial Staff at

Published: 03 Feb 2001

Last Modified: 11 Sep 2013