Depression in Women - Overview

Statistics indicate that depression in women is more common as compared to depression in men, and there are several factors that are responsible for this.

Firstly, biologically, women go through a lot of physiological changes at different stages in their lives - during puberty, pregnancy, and menopause. Each of these is a significant physiological change accompanied with psychological changes too.

More often than not, the physical changes are dealt with and treated but the psychological aspect is neglected or thought to fix itself once the physiological problem is fixed. This is not true, mainly because during all these phases, the mind and body might not work in perfect synchronization. The hormonal changes in the physical body do affect the mind, resulting in mood swings, etc.

While this is natural, one should not ignore it. If moods and energy levels are depleting, the stress is too much to handle and coping with the changes is becoming difficult, it is time to seek help.

Various factors responsible for depression in women include the following:

  • PMS or premenstrual syndrome: This is again brought about by changes in the hormonal levels during the menstrual cycle. PMS is accompanied by certain physical changes too, like water retention, high levels of irritability, lack of physical and emotional energy, and hypersensitivity. In most women, PMS is experienced at a mild to moderate level. However, in some women, these symptoms are a little exaggerated and affect their normal activities and routine life. This condition is referred to as premenstrual dysphoric disorder, or PMDD.

  • Pregnancy Depression and Postpartum Depression: Another cause of depression in women is pregnancy. Again, during pregnancy, there are changes in the hormonal levels in some which could be responsible for depression. Postpartum depression is also referred to as baby blues and affects mothers soon after delivering the child. This can last up to several months and, untreated, can affect the new mother gravely - she might even eventually stop caring for her own baby.

  • Miscarriage and Infertility: Women sometimes go through miscarriages and find it difficult to conceive following a miscarriage and if this repeats, it can affect them very deeply and possibly cause depression in women. Women will start feeling helpless and guilty for extended periods of time where these thoughts start preoccupying their minds predominantly. This then affects their sleep, eating habits, and the stress starts taking a toll on them emotionally and physically, resulting in depression.

  • Menopause: Menopause is yet another possible cause of depression in women. Again, during this phase, women go through physiological changes, during which there will be hormonal fluctuations which again will take its toll both physically and emotionally. If the psychological symptoms last for a long time and one is not able to get back to normalcy soon, it is important to seek professional help. This is because menopause is one of the main triggers for depression in women.

All of the four factors mentioned above are physiological in nature. Further, there are several other factors which contribute to depression in women and a few of these are:

  • Socioeconomic factors: Women generally have to manage multiple roles and if there is no support system to help, this can be extremely demanding and stressful. Mothers with young children and no help, having to manage their work life and personal life, find it difficult to balance and juggle these responsibilities single handedly. At times like this, it is possible that certain physical illness in their children can affect this fine balance and act as a trigger for depression.

  • Abuse and harassment: Physical abuse or harassment at home or at work, too, contribute to depression in women, especially if they do not fight it or suffer in silence. All these traumatic experiences start building a lot of fear, frustration, and anxiety, which are not expressed but suppressed within. At the subconscious level, this becomes too much to handle and manifests in the form of nightmares and sleeplessness. Soon, feelings of guilt, worthlessness, helplessness, etc increase and there is breakdown at the emotional and physical levels, resulting in depression.

  • Other links between women and depression: Most other factors are common for both men and women and these include - inability to cope with stress at the work place, bad grades in school or college, failing relationships, divorces, physical illness or disability in them or their spouse, death of a loved one, family history of depression, etc. These factors all affect men and women equally, but the risks are higher for causing depressed women especially because physiologically, too, a lady's body is constantly undergoing changes and coping with both becomes a little too difficult in the absence of an effective support system.

The various symptoms of depression in women are:

  • Uncontrollable crying spells which occur frequently for no apparent reason.

  • Hypersensitivity and high levels of irritability which can trigger off serious reactions to minor and trivial problems.

  • Lack of sleep or over sleepiness accompanied by lack of appetite or over-eating binges.

  • No interest in regular work at home or at office, accompanied by absenting oneself from work for long stretches of time.

  • Several physical symptoms of depression in women include headaches, water retention, muscle pain, and other aches and pains.

  • Overriding feelings of worthlessness and ultimately thought and speech bordering on ending one¬ís life or committing suicide.

Treatment options for depressed ladies suffering from the condition are the same as in any other patient, except that here, there might be a requirement for additional intervention to help deal with the hormonal imbalance problems.

Also, women might have to take some multivitamins, calcium, and iron supplements to help build immunity, physical strength and energy. Regular sessions of counseling, therapy, and antidepressants might be prescribed to women based on the severity and type of depression in women which is being experienced.

Women should always watch out for signs of depression on their own, because they have a tendency to ignore their own problems and deal with the problems faced by the spouse, partner, or children.

As far as depression is concerned, it is best that women seek professional help immediately, mainly because, if untreated, this condition can de-escalate quickly, leading to major problems and setbacks both at a personal and professional level.

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    Related Pages on Post Partum Depression, Women and Depression
    Postpartum Depression - Discussion and Overview
    Signs and Symptoms of Postpartum Depression - Symptoms and Diagnosis
    Postpartum Depression Treatment
    Postpartum Depression Statistics

    Depression in Women - Overview
    Premenstrual Syndrome or PMS Depression
    Depression and Pregnancy - A Discussion
    Prenatal Depression - Preventing and Coping With Depression During Pregnancy
    Depression and Menopause - Discussion and Suggestions




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