Depression and Women – An Overview
Depression is twice as likely to strike a woman than a man. It is observed that at least 8 out of 10 women are victims of severe depression once in their lives. Women are always vulnerable to depression; the challenges that a woman might experience are more difficult to overcome than those of a man, be they physical, mental, or both. Depression levels show a similar linear progression up until puberty for both genders. However, the tables turn as a girl steps into puberty and gradually enters adult society.
Signs and symptoms of depression in women
The symptoms and expression of depression are often quite the opposite in women compared to what a man would display:
- She becomes sadder, with lower self-esteem and more nervousness than a man.
- Depressed women will often avoid any kind of conflict and blame themselves for the situation.
- She may feel lonely and avoid activities that once attracted her.
- As thyroid plays a major part in mood swings, a woman might have a big increase in her appetite and gain significant weight, or she might give up on eating.
- Lack of confidence is vividly visible in depressed women.
- In severe depression, the anxiety and feeling of guilt might be devastating enough to prompt suicidal thoughts.
Causes of depression
There are many underlying causes of depression, which can be categorized into biological, psychological, and social causes.
Biological causes—Depression can be caused due to hormonal imbalances during the pre- and ongoing menstrual cycle. It can devastate the normal life of women. For some women it might not affect them much, but for others it might lead to premenstrual dysphoric disorder. The hormonal changes during pregnancy can be severe enough to affect mental peace. Other reasons might be unwanted pregnancy, miscarriage, or infertility. Post-delivery, mothers often experience the baby blues, which can make them upset and unhappy. Also, the threat of depression is very common during menopause due to hormonal disturbances in the body.
Psychological causes—There are many psychological causes for depression in women. The onset of puberty upsets a girl; however, with time this depression might fade away. Also, stress at work, domestic issues, and financial difficulties affect women more than men. They might feel guilty if they are working mothers and not be able to spend much time with their children and family. Rape victims or abused females can develop severe depression due to feelings of vulnerability and traumatic memories.
Social causes—Social factors contributing to depression in women are numerous. Loss of a loved one, the breakup of a stable relationship, domestic violence, marriage issues, earning more or enjoying a higher social status than her male counterpart, aging parents, and shifting homes or jobs are among the major and prevalent causes. Depressed women often end up crying and isolating themselves from a proper social life.
How to get rid of depression
Self help is the best help in treating depression in women. Exercise, meditation, and social involvement along with proper medicines can perform miracles in fighting depression. The patient should be active and willing to end this feeling of negativity toward life. After any necessary medical or psychiatric steps have been taken, the best way to fight depression is to engage oneself and take up meaningful work and play, and the situation will most likely take a positive turn.
Since 2001, Dr. Alexander G. Salerno has led Salerno Medical Associates in East Orange, New Jersey. Dr. Alexander Salerno focuses largely on urban communities and on delivering patient education about both medical and behavioral health issues.