Causes, Symptoms, and Treatment
Depression is not “one size fits all,” particularly when it comes to the genders. Not only are women more prone to depression than men, but the causes of female depression and even the pattern of symptoms are often different.Many factors contribute to the unique picture of depression in women-from reproductive hormones to social pressures to the female response to stress. Learning about these factors can help you minimize your risk of depression and treat it more.
Understanding depression in women
If you’re feeling sad, guilty, tired, and just generally “down in the dumps,” you may be suffering from major depression.
According to the Nathional Mental Health Association:
- Approximately 12 million women in the United States experience clinical depression each year.
- About one in every eight women can expect to develop clinical depression during their lifetime.
Signs and symptoms of depression in women
The symptoms of depression in women are the same as those for major depression. Common complaints include: Depressed mood Loss of interest or pleasure in activities you used to enjoy:
- Feelings of guilt, hopelessness and worthlessness
- Suicidal thoughts or recurrent thoughts of death
- Sleep disturbance (sleeping more or sleeping less)
- Appetite and weight changes
- Difficulty concentrating
- Lack of energy and fatigue
Differences between male and female depression
Although the signs and symptoms of depression are the same for both men and women, women tend to experience certain symptoms more often than men. For example, seasonal affective disorder—depression in the winter months due to lower levels of sunlight—is more common in women. Also, women are more likely to experience the symptoms of atypical depression.
In atypical depression, rather than sleeping less, eating less, and losing weight, the opposite is seen: sleeping excessively, eating more (especially carbohydrates), and gaining weight. Feelings of guilt associated with depression are also more prevalent and pronounced in women. Women also have a higher incidence of thyroid problems. Since hypothyroidism can cause depression, this medical problem should always be ruled out by a physician in women who are depressed.
On a personal note
I have gone through teen depression, post partum depression and have lived in what I would qualify as major depression for the past few years of my life. I have been called a drama queen, a baby, a whiner, bitter, angry, a bitch, etc. I have been told while dealing with post partum in a very messy relationship that I was using my daughter (2nd baby) as a crutch. While dealing with depression hearing all of the criticism and hurtful words being directed towards you or even an annoyed look is the equivalentof being kicked in the ribs while you have you face in the dirt. Not cool. Depression is something that I’ve been dealing with for so many years and have gone untreated for it as I refuse to become dependant of nay chemical drug, medicinal or not. I’ve seen what it has done to my mother and it has been anything but pleasent. Before my way of dealing with all of these intense emotions I was feeling as a youth I used to write alot. Alot of poetry, all very angry and depressive poems. That was my own support system for myself as I have parents that grew up in an era and a country where the term “depression” was not heard or known of. I went from a rebellious phase in my teen years where my relationship with my parents was anything but desirable and from that I went into a relationship with the father of my kids which looking at it now, being a more seasoned woman, I can say has been disastrous. But here we are, seperated, but insistent on trying to keep it together. I know its probably doing me more harm then good and perhaps that day will come where I can just let go but until then it just seems like I’m in a sink hole and am just watching myself sink bit by bit. It is my hope that in writing here on this blog a little lightbulb will suddenly go on that will allow me to gain control of my life in a way I never have. A way that will let me grow as a mother, a career woman, a student, a human being.