The Environment and Depression
When you read an article about depression, it might mention that “environmental factors” can influence whether someone has depression. But what does that mean exactly?
The environment is everything around you. It can include: where you live, work, and play and who and what is around you. Everyone lives in the same world – but what’s around us is different.
Think about your environment and how it might be different from someone else.
- Where did you grow up? Was it a small town? A big city? Was it safe?
- What is your family like? Were there a lot of changes in your family? Was your family supportive?
- What were the people around your age like? Did you consider any of them good friends who you could trust and were there for you? Did any of them pick on you?
- Did you have access to resources to meet your daily needs? Like somewhere to sleep? Something to eat? Someone to help you financially? Someone to take you to the places you needed to go like school or the doctor? Someone who would listen to you and be there for you when you needed it?
- What did you think about the world around you? Do you know people from different cultures, races, religions, parts of the world? Or only people like you? Do you listen to certain news outlets or certain types of media?
Answering all of these questions helps describe your environment. And how it can be very different from one person to the next – and from one time in your life to the next.
Sometimes when you are young, there might be parts of your environment that affect your mood and how you deal with life. Often, it can also be hard to change some parts of your environment- like where you live and who supports you financially. When you have depression – and sometimes as you get better with treatment – you find your environment can also change. For example, if you were hanging out with friends who weren’t nice to you, you might be able to build up the confidence to stop hanging around them – and that will help you feel better. As you get older, you sometimes become less dependent on others and can change parts you don’t like.
If you feel like something about your environment is harming you now – like you are being bullied, you don’t have enough food or clothes, or you can’t find a safe and supportive place to be – talk to a trusting adult about it. There are people and agencies who can help you make some changes today.
Some of them include:
- unitedway.org (if you live in Pittsburgh, you can call 211 to access over 5000 agencies who want to help)
- boys and girls clubs of America
- big brothers big sisters
If you are interested in reading more about the science behind how environment influences depression, click here for a really neat world health organization report.
Do you sometimes feel that your environment affects your mood? Have you been able to make changes to your environment that have helped? If you feel comfortable, please share with us below!