Depression in women and treatment defines depression, examines causes, symptoms, and workable treatment for this serious mood disorder.
Depression causes feelings of sorrow, uselessness, vulnerability, and valuelessness. It can be mild to moderate with symptoms of indifference, poor appetite, a problem with sleeping, low self-esteem, and fatigue. Or it can be grimmer.
Unfortunately, the majority of people who experience depression are women, with nearly two-thirds not getting help needed. One in four women is likely to have an episode of major depression at some point in life.
Factors That Increase Depression in Women
Experts suggest factors that increase the risk of depression in women. This includes reproductive, genetic, or other biological factors; interpersonal factors; and certain psychological and personality characteristics. In addition, women juggling work with raising kids and women who are single parents suffer more stress that may trigger symptoms of depression. Other factors that could increase risk include:
- Family history of mood disorders
- History of mood disorders in early reproductive years
- Loss of a parent before age 10
- Loss of social support system or the threat of such a loss
- Ongoing psychological and social stress, such as loss of a job, relationship stress, separation or divorce
- Physical or sexual abuse as a child
- Use of certain medications
- Postpartum depression after the birth of a baby.
Differences Between Depression in Women and Men
Depression in women differs from depression in men in many ways:
- Depression in women may occur earlier, last longer, be more likely to reoccur, be more likely to be associated with stressful life events, and be more sensitive to seasonal changes.
- Women are more likely to experience guilty feelings and attempt suicide, although they actually commit suicide less often than men.
- Depression in women is more likely to be associated with anxiety disorders, especially panic and phobic symptoms, and eating disorders.
- Depressed women are less likely to abuse alcohol and other drugs.
PMS And PMDD Link To Depression In Women
As many as three out of every four menstruating women experience premenstrual syndrome or PMS. PMS is a disorder characterized by emotional and physical symptoms that fluctuate in intensity from one menstrual cycle to the next. Women in their 20s or 30s are usually affected.
About 3% to 5% of menstruating women experience premenstrual dysphoric disorder or PMDD. PMDD is a severe form of PMS. The disorder is marked by highly emotional and physical symptoms that usually become more severe seven to 10 days before the onset of menstruation.
In the last decade, these conditions have become recognized as important causes of discomfort and behavioral change in women. The precise link between PMS, PMDD, and depression is still unclear. However, chemical changes in the brain and fluctuating hormone levels are believed to contribute to depression in women.
Midlife and Prevalence Of Depression
Perimenopause is the stage of a woman’s reproductive life that begins eight to 10 years before menopause. In the last one to two years of perimenopause, the decrease in estrogen accelerates. At this stage, many women experience menopausal symptoms.
Menopause is the period of time when a woman stops having her monthly period. During this time women experience symptoms linked to lack of estrogen production. By definition, a woman is in menopause after her periods have stopped for one year. Menopause normally happens in a woman’s late 40s to early 50s. Nonetheless, women who have their ovaries surgically removed undergo ‘sudden’ menopause.
The drop in estrogen levels during perimenopause and menopause triggers physical and emotional changes. Physical changes include irregular or skipped periods, heavier or lighter periods, and hot flashes. Emotional changes manifest in depression or anxiety.
Treatment For Depression
PMS and PMDD
Depression in women and treatment information is welcome news. This is because many women who suffer from depression along with PMS or PMDD find improvement through exercise or meditation. For individuals with severe symptoms, medicine, individual or group psychotherapy, or stress management may be helpful.
Postpartum depression, or depression following childbirth, can be treated like other forms of depression. That means using medicines and/or psychotherapy. If a woman is breastfeeding, the decision to take an antidepressant must be made with her doctor after a discussion of risks and benefits.
Relief for Menopausal Symptoms
There are many ways you can ease menopause symptoms and maintain your health. These tips include ways to cope with mood swings, fears, and depression:
- Eat healthfully and exercise regularly.
- Engage in a creative outlet or hobby that fosters a sense of achievement.
- Find a self-calming skill to practice – such as yoga, meditation, or slow, deep breathing.
- Keep your bedroom cool to prevent night sweats and disturbed sleep.
- Seek emotional support from friends, family members, or a professional counselor when needed.
- Stay connected with your family and community and nurture your friendships.
- Take medicines, vitamins, and minerals as prescribed by your doctor.
- Take steps such as wearing loose clothing to stay cool during hot flashes.
Talk to Your Doctor
Depression in women and treatment article advises you to talk to your doctor. There are several different methods used to treat depression, including medications such as antidepressants and psychotherapy. Antidepressants carry a warning about the increased risk of suicidal thinking or suicidal behavior by children, adolescents, and young adults taking them. Women should report to their doctor any changes such as worsening depression, suicidal thinking or behavior, agitation, sleep problems, or withdrawal from normal social activity.
Family therapy may be helpful if family stress adds to your depression. Your mental health care provider will determine the best course of treatment for you. If you are uncertain who to call for help with depression, check out the following list:
- Community mental health centers
- Employee assistance programs
- Family doctors
- Family service/social agencies
- health maintenance organizations
- Hospital psychiatry departments and outpatient clinics
- Mental health specialists such as psychiatrists, psychologists, social workers, or mental health counselors
- Private clinics and facilities
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