The protective behaviours associated with depression include but are not limited to:
– Building positive relationships
– Remaining drug free
– Healthy lifestyle
Building positive relationships
Adolescents and young adults who have major depressive disorder should engage in building positive and healthy relationships with other individuals, peers, family and the community in order to reduce the effects of mental disorders upon a person’s overall health and wellbeing. Building strong family relationships and supporting people with mental disorders can influence an individual’s current or future development of depression.
According to a recent survey conducted by AIHW (young minds matter) it was found that the prevalence of major depressive disorder was higher in children and adolescents from families with poorer levels of family functioning, including from 2.1% for those with very good family functioning to 7.7% for those with poor family functioning. Therefore, it is important that individual’s build strong and positive relationships with their family. As a result, individuals who are depressed are supported by their family in times of their hardships which prevents them from becoming isolated and socially excluded. This can prevent mental disorders from becoming worse and reaching a stage where there is not treatment.
An individual can also participate in other activities that interest them, for example, working in a restaurant. By doing so, individuals can create healthy relationships with their peers and colleagues which allows them to build more confidence and increase their self-esteem. This allows them to control their feelings of despair as they are involved in other activities and are keeping themselves busy.
Remaining drug free
People who are depressed often turn to drugs in order escape from certain unbearable feelings such as those of sadness and guilt. However, the use of certain substances those are depressants which lower neurotransmission levels, and depress or reduce stimulation in various areas of the brain. Thus, when the effects of a certain drug wear off, an individual’s emotions can severely impact upon their mental and physical health.
Furthermore, reducing the use of drugs can also minimise the consequences associated with risk behaviours such as drinking and driving or becoming involved in violence. These activities can have negative influences upon a person who is already depressed.
Healthy self-care practices like maintaining a nutritious diet, exercising and getting sufficient sleep can help reduce depressive symptoms. Nutrition experts suggest that 60% of an individual’s happiness comes from their diet. Eating a combination of proteins, healthy fats and carbohydrates can aid against depressive symptoms, prevent physical illnesses and help the brain to function properly. Furthermore, exercising regularly can also help people with mild to moderate depression as exercising releases hormones such as endorphins and norepinephrines which help build positive energy and help an individual reduce stress and anxiety levels. It is also important to maintain sufficient sleep which prevents a person from developing insomnia, which people with depression are particularly at risk.
An individual can also join community sports clubs or other activities, such as soccer clubs or cooking classes which allows a person to develop positive relationships with other people and prevents them from developing depression through becoming busy in other activities. This also enables people who are depressed to develop social interactions with other people and to stay involved in community activities which build confidence. Increasing self-esteem can help an individual overcome the stigma that is associated with mental health disorders in society and reach out to support networks and healthcare services when they need help.
To minimise the severity and duration of a certain condition, individuals with an emerging mental health illness should be identified and treated as early as possible. Early intervention focuses on the following groups to minimise the broader impacts of mental health disorders:
– Population at risk.
– People experiencing mental health issues for the first time.
– People who are experiencing early indicators or recurrence of illness.
Easy access and coordination are required to allow for successful early intervention that is suited to different stages and situations. It must also consider the impact of the wide range of determinants which influence an individual’s wellbeing. An individual should seek to educate themselves about different health issues and to constantly look out for any signs or symptoms that may suggest otherwise. Individuals with genetic history of a certain mental health problem should also remain wary of their own condition and seek help immediately if any health issue develops.
There are many high-quality services in Australia which aim to reduce the impact of mental health problems among those who are affected. Such services will provide primary, acute and community support through both public and/or private sectors. An individual experiencing two or more of the following symptoms should access medical attention as soon as possible:
– Uncontrollable negativity or fear
– Concentration problems
– Feeling hopeless most of the time
– Coping by using nicotine, food, drugs, or alcohol
– Suicidal thoughts
– Inability to sleep (Insomnia)
Impact of determinants on health.
A well-known definition of mental health is “… a state of well-being in which the individual realizes his or her own abilities, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and is able to contribute to his or her community”. This definition makes it clear that mental or psychological well-being is influenced not only by individual characteristics or attributes, but also by the socioeconomic circumstances and the broader environment in which they live.
2.1 Individual factors
An individual’s knowledge and skills can affect their access to healthcare services or ability to maintain a healthy lifestyle. For example, if an individual has limited knowledge and skills associated with physical activity can restrict them from maintaining an active and healthy lifestyle. Moreover, an individual’s attitudes can affect the way they view their health and can determine their peers and employment opportunities.
2.2 Sociocultural factors
Employment offers people financial independence, a sense of control, self-confidence and social contact. Thus, unemployment can affect one’s mental/emotional health. Education positively influences stress level, injury risk, diet and lifestyle. Higher personal income will allow a better lifestyle and physical health whereas a low socioeconomic status will have a negative impact on other determinants of health. For example, a low socioeconomic status can limit an individual’s access to health care services and technology, especially when considering elective surgery or ancillary care (non-medical care, such as physiotherapy or dental care).
2.3 Sociocultural factors
An individual’s family can provide provision of food, clothing, housing and emotional support. However, parents who are addicted to drugs themselves will neglect their children, making them more likely to imitate their habits. Peers can positively influence an individual’s health when they imitate their healthy habits. However, peers can also negatively influence an individual’s health if they seek approval of their peers to engage in risk-taking behaviours such as using drugs. Moreover, an individual’s cultural background can affect their dietary habits, education and employment opportunities. For example, speaking a language other than English can limit an individual’s ability to succeed in education in Australia, which can reduce their access to university and makes them less able to attain satisfactory employment.
2.4 Environmental factors
Environmental factors can influence an individual’s health status and can also affect the other determinants of health. A person’s geographical location can limit or increase their employment and educational opportunities. For example, people who live in rural or remote areas have limited access to schools, universities and employment opportunities, who then suffer from poorer health outcomes due to lack of access to healthcare services, education and employment. Furthermore, access to technology can allow the transfer and communication of information regarding health and/or education, which can influence an individual’s attitudes or ability to gain satisfactory employment. An individual’s access to healthcare may be restricted due to a low socioeconomic status or shortcomings of the healthcare system.
Determinants linked with depression
The determinants that influence an individual’s ability to be diagnosed with depression are:
– Knowledge and skills
– Environmental factors
Individual factors such as their knowledge and skills associated with depression and other mental health illnesses can encourage them to make healthy lifestyle choices in order to avoid the likelihood of developing depression while also enabling them to have access to appropriate health care services such as physiologists. However, if an individual has limited knowledge surrounding the causes, effects and treatments of depression they may be more susceptible to developing such disorders as they are unaware of the health behaviours that can influence their mental health.
An individual’s family can increase or decrease their likelihood of developing depression. For example, parents who themselves suffer from depression will tend to neglect their children and increase the possibility that their children will imitate their behaviour under certain conditions. Lack of parental support and family cohesion in times of hardships such as the death of a loved one can also cause an individual to become isolated and prevent them from communicating their feelings which can increase the likelihood that they may develop depression. However, if an individual’s family practices good family cohesion and parenting skills, their chances of developing depression may be reduced as they have support and are not being neglected by their parents during times of hardships.
Unemployment, insecure employment and unfavourable working conditions can lower an individual’s self-esteem, and cause feelings of depression as they are not financially independent, and do not have a sense of control. On the other hand, satisfactory employment can lead to higher personal incomes which increase an individual’s ability to purchase health-related goods and services such as a psychologist. This leads to positive health-related behaviours and psychological wellbeing.
An individual’s socioeconomic status or geographical location can influence their opportunity to access health care services and support networks. For example, a person who is experiencing symptoms of depression may not be able to access treatment due to their low socioeconomic status or if they live in remote or rural areas, which increases the possibility that their condition may worsen. Furthermore, if an individual has restricted access to technology, their knowledge associated with depression or their ability to use support networks such as Headspace and Beyond Blue may be limited, which can cause their conditions to worsen and make them more susceptible to developing mental health disorder such as depression.
Individual attributes and behaviours
Individual attributes and behaviours refer to a person’s innate as well as learned ability to deal with their thoughts and emotions, and to manage themselves in their daily lives. It also involves the capacity to deal with the social world by taking part in a range of social activities, taking responsibility and respecting the views of others. It is also important to consider the influence of genetic and biological factors such as chromosomal mutations or intellectual disability due to pre-natal exposure to alcohol at birth.
Social and economic circumstances
The capacity for an individual to develop and flourish is significantly influenced by their immediate social surroundings – including their opportunity to engage positively with family members, friends or colleagues, and earn an income for themselves and their families – and by the socio-economic circumstances in which they find themselves. Restricted or lost opportunities to gain an education and income are the most important socio-economic factors.
The wider sociocultural and geopolitical environment in which people live can also affect an individual’s mental health status, including levels of access to basic commodities and services , exposure to predominating cultural beliefs, attitudes or practices, as well as by social and economic policies formed at the national level; for example, the on-going global financial crisis is expected to have significant mental health consequences, including increased rates of suicide and harmful alcohol use. Discrimination, social or gender inequality and conflict are examples of adverse structural determinants of mental well-being.
Groups at risk of Mental Health disorders
Childhood years are vital for developing life skills. Negative experiences within the home or at school – due to family conflict or play-ground bullying, for instance – have a damaging effect on the development of these core cognitive and emotional skills. Supportive parenting, a secure home life and a positive learning environment in schools are key protective factors in building and protecting mental well-being or capital at this stage of life. Psychologists, researchers and public health officials use the term early-life stress to refer to stressful situations or events in the first five years of life that can potentially overwhelm a young child’s relatively meagre anti-stress capabilities and endanger mental and physical health. Potential sources of this form of stress include persistent or repeated exposure to pain or hunger, serious illness, living in a household affected by intimate partner violence, exposure to neglect or abuse, living through parental divorce and experiencing the death of a loved one. Significant problems linked to exposure to serious stress at a young age include heightened lifetime heart disease risks, heightened lifetime anxiety risks, heightened lifetime depression risks, heightened lifetime cancer risks, reduced socioeconomic standing in later life and reduced educational standing in later life.