Infinite Sorrow: The many faces of depression in women
5/20/2016 10:17 AM
Depression is not “one size fits all,” particularly when it comes to genders. Not only are women more prone to depression than men, but the causes and patterns of female depression are usually different. Factors could include reproductive hormones, social pressures and the female response to stress. Women are about twice as likely as men to suffer from depression.
Biological and hormonal causes of depression in women include hormonal fluctuations during the menstrual cycle, post-partum depression, perimenopause and menopause. Chronic illness, injury or disability can lead to depression in women, as can crash dieting or giving up a habit.
Symptoms of post-partum depression can range from mild (baby blues) to debilitating. “Many new mothers feel a sense of dread and anxiety,” explains San Marcos family counselor Kathie Cleveland, “Shifts in hormones and other physiological changes lie at the root of these disorders. Some types of depression can be caused by genetics or situations and possibly can be treated without medicinal intervention, however, the above mentioned conditions respond much better to both medicine and counseling. A thorough evaluation by a mental health professional is very important if symptoms persist.”
There are many psychological causes of depression in women. Focusing on the problem and rehashing negative feelings might help to process emotional tension but can also keep the depression cycle from ending. Finding positive distractions like exercising, helping others or starting a hobby can ease the depression while still letting you work through the issues.
Overwhelming stress at work, school or home can lead to depression. The female physiological response to stress is different than a man’s. Women produce more stress hormones than men, and the female hormone progesterone keeps the stress hormone system from turning itself off as it does in men.
Lifestyle choices, relationships and coping skills can play a role in depression. These might include relationship problems, balancing career and home life, family responsibilities or financial trouble. Talking to a respected friend or counselor can help you develop a plan for creating the needed changes in your life.
The main approach to treating depression is therapy and might include prescribing an antidepressant. Hormone fluctuations related to the reproductive cycle can have a profound influence on a woman’s mood. Your doctor might look for connections between your depressive symptoms and hormones.
- 12 million U.S. women will experience clinical depression each year
- 1 in 8 women will develop clinical depression during their lifetime
- Depression occurs most frequently in women 25 to 44
Source: Mental Health America