Who commonly gets depression?

Depression is a common mental health condition that negatively affects how you feel, think, and act. Depression can happen to anyone, though some groups are more likely to experience depression than others. Understanding who is most at risk for depression can help increase awareness and access to support.

Groups Prone to Depression

While depression can happen to anyone, research shows that certain groups have a higher risk of experiencing depressive disorders. Some of the most common groups impacted by depression include:


Women are diagnosed with depression at nearly twice the rate of men. This is true across different countries, cultures, and age groups. Researchers believe this is due to a combination of hormonal, biological, and social factors that disproportionately impact women.

Specifically, women may be more likely to experience:

  • Hormonal factors – Fluctuations in estrogen and progesterone may make some women more susceptible to mood changes.
  • Biological factors – Women appear to have a heightened response to stress hormones like cortisol.
  • Trauma – Girls and women are more likely to experience sexual abuse and violence which increases depression risk.
  • Socioeconomic disadvantages – Gender discrimination and inequality may contribute to depression.

These influences can make women more prone to depression than men, especially when experiencingstressful life events like pregnancy, infertility, menopause, caregiving, or abuse.

Young adults

Depression often begins during adolescence and young adulthood. In fact, depression is most common among 18-25 year-olds.

Young adults may struggle with depression due to:

  • Brain development – The prefrontal cortex is still developing, impacting regulation of emotions.
  • Stress – Moving away from home, pursuing education or a career, and taking on adult responsibilities leads to stress.
  • Isolation – Moving frequently and separation from family and friends leads to loneliness.
  • Financial strain – Unemployment and student loan debt causes stress.
  • Experiences of failure – Not getting into college, getting fired, or breakups make young adults vulnerable.

With the many life changes and stressors facing young adults, they are highly susceptible to developing depression.


Seniors also have high rates of depression. An estimated 7 million adults aged 65+ in the U.S. are affected by depression each year.

Factors that make depression common among seniors include:

  • Health problems – Chronic illness, disability, and pain impacts quality of life.
  • Medications – Some prescriptions have depression as a side effect.
  • Death of loved ones – Grieving the loss of friends, family, and pets is highly challenging.
  • Reduced mobility – Loss of driving skills and inability to get out leads to isolation.
  • Retirement – Giving up a profession can remove purpose and fulfillment.
  • Cognitive decline – Dementia and memory loss causes distress.

With so many losses and life changes, depression understandably impacts many older adults. Getting treatment can help seniors regain enjoyment and meaning in life.

Those with chronic illnesses

Chronic physical health conditions significantly increase the risk for developing depression. In fact, 1 in 4 adults with chronic illnesses has clinical depression.

Some physical health conditions tied to higher rates of depression include:

  • Diabetes
  • Cancer
  • Heart disease
  • Chronic pain
  • Obesity
  • Alzheimer’s disease
  • Parkinson’s disease
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Stroke

Dealing with distressing physical symptoms daily takes a toll on mental health. Additionally, some health conditions may cause changes in the brain that make depression more likely.

Those with a family history

Having a parent or close family member with depression increases your risk of developing depression. The exact causes are still being researched, but both genetic and environmental factors likely play a role.

People with a family history of depression may be more prone to low mood due to:

  • Inherited genes – Certain genes you inherit can make you more sensitive to emotional distress.
  • Early life experiences – Growing up with a depressed parent can negatively impact development.
  • Shared environment – Families often share lifestyles, stressors, and unhealthy coping methods.
  • Brain chemistry – Relatives may have similarities in neurotransmitters, hormones, and neural pathways.

If you have a parent or sibling that struggles with depression, it is wise to be proactive about maintaining your mental health.

Those going through major life stressors

Experiencing a major stressful life event can trigger depression in someone with an underlying predisposition. Highly stressful situations that increase depression vulnerability include:

  • Trauma or abuse
  • Death of a loved one
  • Divorce or breakup
  • Job loss or financial problems
  • Social isolation and loneliness
  • Living with discrimination
  • Moving frequently
  • Caregiving responsibility
  • Living in poverty

These intense stressors overwhelm our capacity to cope. Even if you don’t have a history of depression, prolonged hardship may precipitate depression symptoms.

Other Groups Impacted by Depression

In addition to the most common groups discussed above, research shows elevated rates of depression among:

LGBTQ+ individuals

Systemic discrimination, denial of rights, abuse, and family rejection leads to higher rates of depression among lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer individuals.

Racial minorities

Black, Indigenous, and people of color often experience chronic stress from racism, microaggressions, and health disparities that negatively impacts mental health.

Those with disabilities

Coping with functional impairments and barriers to access that reduce independence can contribute to depression.

Low income communities

Dealing with financial stress, overcrowded housing conditions, lack of healthcare access, and neighborhood violence increases depression rates among disadvantaged populations.


The demands of caring for children or aging adults and having little time for self-care contributes to high rates of depression among caregivers.

Postpartum women

Trying to meet the physical and emotional needs of a new baby, along with hormonal shifts, leads to postpartum depression for many new mothers.

Those with substance use disorders

Frequently misusing alcohol, drugs, or medications makes people far more prone to experiencing clinical depression.


While depression can impact anyone, certain groups face higher risks. Women, young adults, seniors, those with chronic illnesses, and people with a family history are most commonly diagnosed with depression disorders.

Additionally, marginalized groups dealing with trauma, discrimination, and socioeconomic disadvantages have elevated rates of depression. Seeking treatment through therapy, medication, lifestyle changes, or other means can help individuals in these high-risk groups overcome depression challenges and obstacles.

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