Depression is way beyond a short period of sadness. It is a common mental health disorder characterized by constantly ‘feeling low’ or uninterested in routine chores. The condition, with time, may detriment your daily life.
How widespread is depression globally? The World Health Organization states that an estimated more than 300 million people throughout the world suffer from depression. It is also one of the major causes of incapacity in the universe.
Although depression can impact anyone at any age, studies show that women as young as 12 years of age are more likely to suffer from depression than men. According to the National Mental Health Association, every one in ten women suffers from depression at a certain stage.
Depression in Women: Potential Factors
So, why are women likely to suffer from depression? To start with, according to the research by the National Institute of Mental Health, a mix of psychological and physiological (biological) factors can be the reason why women are at higher risk of developing clinical depression as compared to men.
Stressful events and emotional stress play a key role in leading women to the path of depression. Reports suggest that females are vulnerable to traumatic life events, and are more sensitive to grievous circumstances, as compared to males. These events can be in the form of – divorce, separation, loss of a closed one, unemployment/harassment at a job, an unsuccessful relationship, sexual or physical violence, and more.
Hormonal and physiological factors are other major reasons increasing your likelihood of depression. Health issues like pregnancy, menstrual cycle, menopause, fertility, and perimenopause make a woman more vulnerable to this disorder. Many health issues are triggered by ups and downs in the female reproductive hormones.
Mental health diseases often run in genes. Scientific reports indicate that certain hereditary originations are prone to depression while others are immune to it. Hence, women, who have a genetic history of poor mental health or depression, are more likely to be suffering from this ailment at some point in their lives.
Certain antibiotics, drugs, and medications, or an unnoticed mental condition, such as bipolar disorder, anxiety can often result in depression in females.
Types of Depression Widespread in Women
Depression can impact females in various ways due to different reasons. Given below are the most prevalent forms of depression seen in women –
Postpartum depression is a well-known depression that occurs after child delivery, which means it affects new mothers. The disorder begins within 4-6 weeks after you have delivered the baby. Reports affirm that approx. 10-15% of women who have recently given birth suffer from postpartum depression and most of them have more chances of developing clinical depression in the future.
2. Perinatal Depression
This form of depression is found in women during the pregnancy period or immediately after giving birth. At the time of pregnancy, your body hormones mutate quickly, causing mood swings and signals of anxiety. An abortion, relationship problem, no support from near ones, and similar situations happening in your life can make you depressed during this time.
3. Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder
Also referred to as PMDD, Premenstrual dysphoric disorder is a critical form of PMS, wherein women experience symptoms of tension, depression, and annoyance before menstrual cycles.
4. Perimenopausal Depression
This form of depression affects women during the stage of the shift to menopause. Your body goes through different hormonal fluctuations when you get into perimenopause, and eventually, menopause. Due to these hormonal imbalances, women at this moment are likely to experience symptoms of clinical depression. A study done in 2006 analyzed that 1 out of 6 females without a genetic history of depression came across depressive symptoms during perimenopause.
Depression in Women- Signs & Symptoms
Depression is not easy to notice. There are times when an individual suffering from depression may not have any idea what he/she is dealing with until the symptoms have been bothering them for a long time.
The most common symptoms of depression in women may include –
- Drastic weight loss
- Feeling fatigued or weak without any major reason
- A strong feeling of guilt
- A consistent feeling of uselessness, considering oneself to be less capable and worthless
- Feeling anxious or annoyed
- Loss of curiosity in daily life activities or hobbies that once seems to be interesting and fun
- No desire for sex or intimacy with the partner
- Lack of focus or direction
- Mild loss of memory or concentrating on things for long
- Lack of enthusiasm
- Lazy, inactive lifestyle
- Feelings of continuous sadness, despair, hopelessness, and loneliness
- Change in dietary habits- eating too much or not at all
- Experiencing frequent mood swings, stress attacks
- Having suicidal tendencies, over and over again
- Hopeless about the future
- Insomnia or difficulty sleeping at night
- Physical changes, such as cramps, body pain, and aches, headaches, issues with digestion, bloating, and so on
The signs of depression in females might differ from one individual to another. Therefore, it is crucial to identify the danger signs of depression or anxiety so that you can look for proper diagnosis, medications, and treatment before it starts impacting your life.
Depression in Women: Treatment
The first step after identifying the symptoms should be looking for a doctor. Your psychiatrist may ask a round of questions related to the cause and symptoms of depression. These questions may rotate around your medications, your family history, when and how symptoms started, how frequent or rare they are, and how severe they get. The plan of treatment will rely on the level of illness.
Treatment types for depression in women majorly include –
- Counteractant (Medicines, antidotes, depressants)
Antidepressants are commonly used to cure depression/ anxiety in women. Many times, these medicines, if consumed as per the suggested dosage, are reliable, effective, and safe. However, ladies who are pregnant might be at risk of side effects. Hence, pregnant females must tell their psychiatrist about their condition and understand the side effects before taking a pill.
Psychotherapy involves discussing your mental health issues with a professional psychiatrist or therapist. The therapist can walk you through certain behavioral factors contributing to your anxiety using different therapy techniques.
Luckily, the depression treatment has witnessed a higher success rate. Over 80% of women battling anxiety and mental health disorders have been recovered successfully through therapy, antidepressants, or an amalgamation of both.
Besides, incorporating positive lifestyle modifications can also help in curing depression in women. Your therapist will suggest including a balanced diet, exercising often, and avoiding unhealthy eating and drinking to improve chances of coping with mental health diseases.
Life comes with uncertainties, challenges, and hard times, and it is completely normal to not feel okay. However, if the feeling of loneliness, sadness, and incompetence lasts for a long, then it could be a sign of depression. And that’s when you should immediately opt-in for therapy for depression. One of the majorly important things to do is to follow a routine. Stick to it. Even if you feel discouraged or lost, do not step back. Continue the anxiety treatment and soon you will start showing improvement.