Depression is not a widely researched subject and there are a lot of misconceptions about it. In most cases it is neglected because of the low level of awareness about it. In addition there is a tendency on the part of the uninitiated to think of it as something to be ashamed of. As a result of this, it often goes untreated.

The little research that has been done indicates that individuals in senior positions are more likely to suffer from depression than the average person. Some studies suggest that children from rich homes are more prone to depression than those from middle class or poor homes.

More common in advanced, affluent countries

Multi-country research has shown that this affliction is more common in advanced, affluent countries than in the poorer, less advanced countries. However there is no data to point to the prevalence of depression among the poor. But it is important to realize that this illness can strike everyone, irrespective of what socio-economic strata they belong to.

Empirical evidence has shown that extreme success is often a trigger for depression. This could be because of the pressure exerted on them to continue being successful – they are worried they may not be able to repeat their performance and hence become depressed. Or they become isolated from others due to their success and this has a negative effect on them.

There are many cases of celebrities and successful people in history who have suffered from very severe debilitating depression. People who lead lonely lives with little or no social contact with others can get depressed, those who are under extreme stress at work or in their personal lives are at risk from this illness and heredity also contributes to depression – if somebody in the family suffers from it, then they may pass it down to their children too.

Depression among the younger generation

Depression among the younger generation is on the rise. School and college students are becoming more and more vulnerable to this illness. The pressures of the educational system, the fierce competition that starts as early as primary school, the constant pressure from parents to “come first”, the comparison with other children, the stress and tension of trying to do a multitude of “extra-curricular” activities along with studies, the exams, the ragging – all these add to the emotional burden on children and often cause depression, nervous breakdowns and even suicides.

Teenagers, on the border between childhood and adulthood, also go through emotional attachments, romance and the like. Disappointments in love can also trigger depression among these children – in fact this age is probably when the children are most vulnerable.

That being said, it is true that being resilient and being able to withstand problems and setbacks are effective in preventing depression. The rich are privileged in many ways, they do not have to fight the daily battles that the poor have to, things are easier for them – as a result they do not develop resilience or mental strength as much as a poorer person may. The consequence of this is that if they don’t get their way with things or if things go wrong, or if they face disappointments of any kind or anything similar, they feel unduly upset and this can eventually lead to depression if not checked. In that sense they are “privileged” even in terms of the illnesses that they get.

The poor have far greater problems than the rich

The poor lead tough lives, they have far greater problems than the rich can ever imagine but they are so tied trying to live from day to day that they don’t have time to fall ill – physically or mentally. They have to keep going. If they do get depression, neither they nor their families are aware of it and hence there is no question of treating or pampering them – they have to carry on with their lives whatever happens. Their illness is never diagnosed hence never treated.

It is not that depression is a rich man’s problem – it is every person’s problem. The issue is that the rich can afford to be depressed, the poor do not have that luxury. The business of life makes sure that they stay fit mentally and if they don’t they are abandoned as being of unstable mind.