It is widely documented that a woman is twice as likely as a man to experience major depression in her lifetime. This increased risk exists independent of race, geographical residence, or ethnicity. There are several factors explaining why depression is more prevalent in women than in men. These factors can be characterized as hormonal changes, other biological factors, personal life experiences and circumstances, or inherited traits.
Factors Explaining Why Depression is More Prevalent in Women Than Men
It is normal for girls to develop mood swings during puberty, but other factors can also contribute to depression during this period. Among these are conflicts with parents, increased pressure to achieve in different areas of life (such as school or social life), and emerging identity issues. Girls are also more susceptible to depression at an earlier age than boys because they reach puberty earlier.
Women experience hormonal changes during pregnancy, which also contributes to mood swings. However, there several other factors that increase the risk of developing depression during pregnancy. These include lifestyle changes, lack of social encouragement, unplanned pregnancy, relationship problems, stopping antidepressant medications, or miscarriage.
Typically, the symptoms of Premenstrual syndrome (PMS), such as abdominal bloating, headaches, irritability, and breast tenderness, are short-lived and minor. Yet for some women, PMS can be severe and can greatly disrupt their social lives, work, studies, and even relationships. Women experiencing severe PMS symptoms tend to suffer from a form of depression known as premenstrual dysphoric disorder or PMDD. Other factors, such as adverse life experiences, previous depression episodes or inherited traits, can contribute to depression in women during this premenstrual period.
It’s normal for a new mother to experience the “baby blues” soon after giving birth (within one or two weeks). These symptoms may include anger, sadness, or irritability. Crying spells may occur as well. When, these symptoms of depression in women during this period become severe or last longer, they can develop into the full syndrome of postpartum depression. This illness may include low self-esteem, continuous crying spells, sleeping problems, thoughts of suicide or of harming the baby, anxiety, or an inability to care for the baby. Postpartum depression is serious and requires immediate treatment. It is often the result of major hormonal changes, infant complications, poor social support, or breastfeeding problems.
Perimenopause and Menopause
Most women who transition to menopause or the perimenopause stage don’t develop depression, but certain factors increase a woman’s risk. These include sleeping problems, previous depression episodes, weight gain, adverse life circumstances, early menopause, or the result of a medical procedure like surgical removal of the ovaries.
Life Experiences And Circumstances
According to statistics, there are different life stressors that can contribute to depression. Although these circumstances can also apply to men, they’re more likely to affect women, and can therefore cause higher rates of depression in women. One example of a depressing life experience occurs when women experience a lower position power in their societies, either by earning less, or, at times, by living in poverty. This may lead to anxiety, low self-esteem, and a feeling of negativity, all of which may lead to depression. A sense of overload from an excessive burden of responsibilities, such as single parenthood and a heavy workload, can also lead to depression in women. Additionally, women who were abused as children or adults, either physically or sexually, are more likely to experience depression at some point in their lives.
Common Signs Of Depression In Women
Based on the statistics gathered in 2017 by Our World in Data, the prevalence of major depression in women was 4.7%. For the men, it was 2.7%. Common signs of depression in women include:
- A feeling of guilt, helplessness, worthlessness, and pessimism
- Excessive crying, sadness, restlessness, and irritability
- Suicidal thoughts
- Sleeping too little or too much
- Weight loss/gain
- Difficulty concentrating or failure to remember details
- Loss of interest in pleasurable activities such as hobbies or even sex
- Headaches, aches, chronic pain, or digestive issues
- Anxiety or tension
- A feeling of being out of control
If a woman, her caregiver, a family member, or friend notices signs of depression, she should seek treatment immediately to improve her quality of life. Depression in women is simple to diagnose and treat. The mental health specialist or patient care coordinator will ask the patient a series of questions to determine the severity and persistence of the depression.
For quality medications and therapy for women suffering from depression, Pathway Healthcare is the ideal choice. We have many qualified and experienced doctors, therapists, and patient care coordinators on staff that will provide any woman suffering from depression the best medication and therapy treatment available. Contact us today.