Wish everyone a very Happy Mother’s day!! Let’s take an opportunity to honor our mothers, grandmothers; God mothers; aunts or any women who ever cared for us so far in this journey. For me, besides my mother and grandmother there are many – my aunts; my cousins; my friends; my neighbors; and my favorite teachers! I feel there are motherly qualities in every woman irrespective of her age. Let’s celebrate those qualities this weekend!!
In continuation with my last post on “Depression among men“, today I am sharing my post on “Depression among women”. Here I go –
According to the Mayo Clinic, depression is “a mood disorder that causes a persistent feeling of sadness and loss of interest”. It’s more than a series of a few bad days, and it’s more than experiencing life’s normal bumps and potholes. The latest studies are also calling it an inflammatory disease.
Depression, also known as major depressive order or clinical depression, impacts one’s feelings, thoughts, and actions, and an array of emotional and physical problems can stem from the disorder. It’s a serious condition that often needs to be addressed by a professional who may offer various treatment options and recovery plans, including medication use, lifestyle changes, or psychotherapy—also referred to as talk therapy or, simply, counseling.
By the Numbers
Although it is difficult to track the precise occurrence of a disorder that so many people do not admit to having—primarily due to the stigma that’s often attached to a mental illness of any kind—WebMD cites that an estimated 15 million Americans suffer from depression each year. While it affects people of all races, ages, sexes, and socioeconomic backgrounds, the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) reports that women are 50 to 70 percent more likely than men to experience depression, and at least 25 percent of women will experience depression at least once in their lives.
Why are More Women Affected?
Any number of factors may contribute to depression in women, but the most common are:
- Genetics: Depression can be passed down from generation to generation through DNA, and since more women historically have suffered from depression, it presently affects more women.
- Hormones: Women experience changes to their hormonal balances based on standard life cycle events such as starting menstruation, getting pregnant, giving birth, and transitioning into menopause, and the changes in estrogen and progesterone can alter brain chemicals like the mood-controlling serotonin.
- Stress: Dealing with the death of a close friend or family member, or with the aftermath of a failed relationship, can wreak havoc on a woman’s happiness, self-esteem, or self-worth, often resulting in depression.
- Thyroid malfunctioning: Due to Thyroid malfunction, women can suffer with mood swings which can affect their ability to socialize or have healthy relationships, can lead to Depression.
The Faces of Depression in Women
The types of depression that commonly affect more women than men are:
- Premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD): A small percentage of women deal with such strong PMS symptoms—bloating, irritability, breast tenderness, etc.—that they become unable to focus on their jobs, families, school work, relationships, or other important aspects of their lives.
- Postpartum depression: After giving birth, some women feel overwhelming anxiety, exhaustion, and sadness, often to the point of being unable to properly care for their newborn babies.
- Perimenopausal depression: Women transitioning out of menopause typically experience hot flashes, insomnia and forgetfulness. Coupled with a decrease in estrogen as well as the sadness as children grow up and move out of the house, depression during this period which can last from a few months to a few years, is not uncommon.
- Seasonal affective disorder (SAD): During the darker winter months, some women withdraw from social groups, put on weight, and sleep excessively, and then return to their “normal”, depression-free selves in the spring.
Depression affects everyone differently, and NAMI states that “women are more likely than men to experience pronounced feelings of guilt, oversleep, and overeat”.
Regardless of why a woman may be dealing with depression, or what her symptoms may be, it’s important for her, and for her close family members, to understand that it’s a serious condition that needs to be taken care of before it gets worse.
Medicine comes very handy, especially in the initial stages. However, it has to be combined with self-care and coping skills. Check my recent posts on Self Care.