According to a report in the Canadian Medical Association Journal (CMAJ), the risk factors for individuals experiencing repeat episodes of depression include daily smoking, lack of control over life situations (low mastery) and previous depression.

Depression is a common disorder in which feelings of sadness, anger, loss, or frustration negatively affect the individual’s quality of life. Approximately 65% of individuals with the condition have repeat episodes. In addition the condition can be linked with weight and dietary control as well as pain and inattention to other health issues.

585 adults from Statistics Canada’s National Population Health Survey who had experienced depression in 2000-2001, were examined by the researchers in order to identify risk factors connected with long-term prognosis of depression. 82% were in the middle – to high- income bracket, 65% of participants were women, and the average age was 38.5 years. In the following six years over half of all participants had experienced one or more episodes of depression. It appeared that being an immigrant had a protective status against relapse in individuals who suffer from severe depression.

The investigators discovered that future depressive episodes were not connected with sex, age and income but that long-term depression was linked with low mastery and daily smoking. They found that participants who had high levels of mastery seemed to be protected against depression in the future.

Dr. Ian Colman, Department of Epidemiology and Community Medicine, University of Ottawa, with coauthors, explained:

“History of depression is a well-known clinical indicator of future depressive episodes; however smoking and mastery are more novel prognostic factors that are not well accounted for in current clinical practice. Future research should evaluate the benefits of including smoking cessation and mastery in existing clinical guidelines for treatment of depression.”

Written by Grace Rattue