Understanding Depression in Women

Woman on hike

Detecting depression seems like it should be easy, but depression often goes unnoticed. Life moves rapidly. Kids, work, household chores may act as distractions. But when feelings of depression strike, depending on severity, they becomes impossible to ignore. According to WebMD, signs of depression include appetite changes, loss of interest, sleep disturbances, and mood shifts like agitation or thoughts of suicide. Everyone experiences depression differently.

Depression in Women Compared to Men
Women are more likely to display depressive symptoms than men, according to data from the CDC. Although many theories lead researchers towards clues about why women are more vulnerable to the disease, it is still unclear exactly why. We do know that when women create social networks with close friends and family less depression is reported. Battered women or those in abusive relationships may be at risk for the disease. Although more women reportedly attempt suicide, experts say men are more successful in their attempts. Depression in girls can start in childhood. But the National Institutes for Mental Health (NIMH) says that girls, by age 15, are 50 percent more likely to have had a major depressive episode than boys their age. Another factor to consider is aging. Advanced age can bring on depression in older women. Heart attacks may increase your chances of developing depression by half, says a Harvard Health Publication.

Factors Contributing to Depression
Triggers for depression vary. But with depression in women, the female factor adds a more complex array of hormones to the mix. And that means more chemical changes in the brain. Biological, life cycle, and psychosocial predisposition are all thought to contribute to a woman’s mental state. Add pregnancy to the mix, and it’s easy to see why women are susceptible to depression. The responsibilities of caring for an infant and the cadre of changes the body goes through after childbirth are overwhelming. Changes brought on by parenthood, for some women, can lead to post-partum depression (PPD). Seeking treatment during this time is critical. Tell your doctor if you suspect PPD.  Similarly, depression may feel exacerbated in the days leading up to a woman’s menstrual period. Symptoms are often marked by grouchiness and irritability. If these symptoms worsen, they could indicate premenstrual dysphonic disorder, which may bring on feelings of depression or a feeling that you’re losing your mind. According to the NIMH, PMDD onset is usually between ovulation and menstruation. Talk to your gynecologist for help.


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