Depression and Women
One in five women can expect to develop clinical depression during their lifetime. Regardless of age, race, or income - clinical depression can occur in any woman.
For many people depression is characterized by sadness and withdrawal, but can also cause anxiety, irritability, fatigue and changes in eating and sleeping habits. Depressed persons can also experience physical symptoms affecting their overall general health.
Even though women are more than twice as likely as men to experience clinical depression more than six million men experience depression each year. Differences in women, such as hormonal changes, social roles, and the stresses of work and family, may contribute to their higher levels of depression.
If you experience any of these signs or symptoms of depression you should talk to your doctor or mental health professional.
- Feelings of persistent sadness, anxiety, emptiness hopelessness, guild or worthlessness
- Loss of interest or pleasure in hobbies or activities that were once enjoyed
- Loss of interest in eating, friends, or sex
- Extreme change in sleep habits
- Abuse of alcohol or drugs
- Violent behavior towards loved ones
- Reckless behavior
- Thoughts of death or suicide
Why do women suffer from clinical depression more often than men?
Per the National Mental Health Association research indicates the following:
- Adolescence - The higher incidence of depression in women begins in adolescence, when there are dramatic changes in roles and expectations for teenage girls, along with physical and hormonal changes.
- Adulthood - Many women face a variety of stresses, such as major responsibilities at home and work, a greater likelihood of being a single parent, and caring for children and aging parents. Rates of depression are highest for women when they are unhappily married. Being unmarried, including being separated or divorced, increases depression in both women and men.
- Menstruation and Premenstrual Syndrome - While many women experience irritability or depressed feelings before their menstrual period, caused by changes in hormone levels, these feelings usually last only a few days. Extreme emotional and physical symptoms are called premenstrual syndrome (PMS) and may benefit from treatment by a doctor.
- Postpartum Depression - Many women experience sadness following childbirth, ranging from a few days of the "blues" to clinical depression. Although as many as one out of every ten new mothers experience serious depression, in most cases it passes in a week or two. However, long-lasting clinical depression in a mother can have a negative effect on a child's behavior and development, which is another very important reason to seek treatment.
- Menopause - Women are at no greater risk for clinical depression during menopause than at other times in their lives. However, women who have a history of clinical depression may be more likely to experience a recurrence during menopause.
- Late Life - Some factors in later life can increase the risk of clinical depression. The death of a spouse may lead to depression. Additionally, clinical depression can be triggered by other illnesses including heart disease, cancer, diabetes and arthritis. Called "co-occurring depression," it should be treated in addition to treatment for the other illnesses. Depression is never a normal part of growing older.