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Depression

29 June 2011

Small stresses in life have big repercussions

People become depressed more easily following minor life stress, in part because they have experienced early life adversity or prior depressive episodes.

We all know people who are able to roll with life's punches, while for others, every misfortune is a jab straight to the gut. Research examining this issue has found that although most people require significant adversity to become depressed - the death of a loved one, say, or getting fired - roughly 30% of people with first-time depression and 60% of people with a history of depression develop the disorder following relatively minor misfortunes. But no one knew why.

George Slavich, an assistant professor at the UCLA Cousins Centre for Psychoneuroimmunology, and colleagues assessed individuals' experiences with early adversity, clinical depression and recent life stress. Slavich found that individuals who experienced an early parental loss or separation and people who had more lifetime episodes of depression became depressed, following lower levels of life stress than those who didn't have these predisposing factors.

 

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