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There’s no simple answer as to why people become depressed. It’s often a combination of things and it varies from person to person. We do know that some people are more likely to become depressed than others. Depression can also be triggered by a difficult situation in your life, or it can build up over many years. Sometimes there’s no obvious reason.

Being aware of the risk factors in your life will help you identify what might be causing your depression and help you find the right way through it. Here are some of the risk factors we know about:

family history

  • other members of your family having depression
  • traumatic experiences in childhood, including violence
Family history explained


  • death or loss of someone close
  • relationship break-ups
  • traumatic, often life threatening events
  • financial pressure
  • unemployment
  • serious accidents (particularly head injuries) or long-term illness
  • some medication (check with your doctor)
  • stress or problems at work, school or university or on the farm
  • bullying or abuse
  • some women experience depression during pregnancy or after childbirth
  • Natural events such as drought or earthquakes
How events play a role


  • excessive alcohol consumption
  • recreational or party drugs
  • social isolation
  • lack of sleep
  • poor diet and lack of exercise
Why lifestyle factors matter

next step

Look through the lists above and ask yourself if any of these are strong influences in your life. Addressing these factors could help with treating your depression. The link under each list explains which treatment strategies and/or health professionals may best help.

0800 111 757

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