The Agonizing Effects Of Depression In Women

depression-women

While no one is immune from suffering from depression and it can affect both genders, depression in women is more prevalent than in men. Women battle with the mental illness nearly twice as often as men. It is important to know why women seem more susceptible to depression and which symptoms seem to be more common to women sufferers. There are are also certain risk factors that may increase a woman’s chances of developing the disorder. Having the proper information about depression in women can hopefully help someone seek help and get the effective treatment they deserve and hasten their recovery back to their normal selves.

Common Symptoms of Depression In Women

Women may exhibit any of the common depression symptoms, however there are some symptoms that women experience more often than others. While these are tendencies, no symptom should be ignored. Some symptoms often seen in women may include:

  • Feelings of guilt, blaming themselves for their problems
  • Intense sadness
  • Crying spells
  • Feelings of worthlessness or hopelessness
  • Feelings of anxiousness
  • Fatigue and loss of interest in activities
  • Changes in appetite and weight
  • Changes in sleep habits
  • Unable to think clearly and concentrate
  • Thoughts of suicide or death

Suicide is always a risk for those battling through depression. While men commit suicide at a higher rate than women, women attempt suicide more often. Men tend to use more violent methods in suicide attempts, such as with the use of a gun, thus they are more successful. Women tend to use less violent methods of suicide, such as an intentional overdose, which tend to be less successful. Anyone in immediate crisis where suicide is a real concern should seek professional help or call or visit their nearest medical emergency center right away.

Why Is Depression in Women More Common Than in Men?

While the exact cause of depression is unknown, it is believed that the changes to a woman’s body throughout her lifetime and the fluctuations in hormone levels may play an important role in why women are more susceptible to depression.

Women are physiologically different than men. Before puberty, the occurrence of depression in young boys and girls is close to the same rate, however during and after puberty, the rates of depression in women dramatically increase to roughly twice that of men. Once these changes to a woman’s body start to occur, their chances of battling depression increase. From menopause, to giving birth, to their normal monthly menstrual cycle, a woman is constantly experiencing a rise and lowering of certain hormones throughout their body. These changes can lead to mild cases of depression, such as that of PMS, or it can lead to more severe cases of depressive episodes such as premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD), postpartum depression (depression associated with giving birth) or major depression that can develop at the time of perimenopause or menopause.

Biological factors are not the only influences that may increase a woman’s chances of suffering from depression. Psychological differences between the genders may also play a role.

While men typically try to distract themselves from their problems, with work or watching TV, women tend to fixate and lament over their problems or the issues that are bothering them. This constant rehashing does nothing to alleviate the depressive feelings and may only maintain the depressive mood or make it worse.

Some research has found that women may respond to stress differently than men.

Women are more likely to develop issues with their body image. This may start at an earlier age as puberty starts to set in and girls become more aware of their bodies and the differences between the sexes. Cultural pressures play a role as media influences (TV and magazines) are more geared toward young and older women. The inability or desire to live up to these unobtainable standards may cause a woman to feel bad towards her body and may lead to the development of depression.

Although these are some factors that may produce depression more often in women than in men, there are a host of other factors common to both genders that may lead one to suffer a major depressive episode. Physical or sexual abuse, social, work or family stress and financial problems are some examples of factors that can play a role in depression. Having a family history of mental illness also increases the risk of developing the same disorders. It is important to be able to recognize the signs of depression in women so that one can get effective help and treatment.

Treating Depression in Women

Despite the fact that depression in women may have different symptoms and causes than that of men, treatment is typically the same for both genders. Clinical depression is usually treated with either antidepressants, psychotherapy or some combination of the two.

Antidepressants work to alter the level of certain brain chemicals called neurotransmitters. These neurotransmitters, serotonin, norepinephrine and dopamine in particular, are believed to play a role in depression. Antidepressants have to be prescribed and are usually done so and monitored by a licensed, trained psychiatrist.

Psychotherapy, talk therapy, focuses on the root causes of a person’s depression. It gives support to the patient while trying to show them how their current thinking and behavior may be having a negative impact on their mood. Depending on the method, it can give the patient he ability to realize certain triggers to their depressive mood and give them problem solving skills to avoid and work through stressful situations more effectively.

Patients who seek treatment have an estimated 80% success rate of treating their depression when working with trained and qualified mental health professionals using the methods above.

Some Facts About Depression In Women

  • Women are twice as likely to suffer from depression than men.
  • Women are more likely to attempt suicide than men, although men are more successful in their attempts at suicide.
  • An estimated 1 in 8 women in the US are expected to develop clinical depression at some point during their lives, with nearly 12 million battling clinical depression every year.
  • Depression in women happens most frequently between the ages of 25 and 45.
  • Women’s depression symptoms may be misdiagnosed between 30% and 50% of the time.
  • More than 50% of women who suffer depression will never get proper treatment for it.

Depression is not a “woman’s disease” nor is it a normal part of being a woman. Women may be more prone to developing this mental illness so they should be vigilant and keep account of how their feeling and if they may be experiencing or showing any of the common signs of depression. No symptoms should be ignored. Treatment can have a profound effect on depression, so no one should feel they need to suffer through it. If you or a loved one feel as if depression is taking over your lives, then reaching out to a mental health care professional for help is highly encouraged.