Everyone gets down now and then, but constantly dealing with low moods and depression in women is not easy. If a woman is experiencing feelings of sadness, stress and frustration that are not passing or going away for two weeks or more, she may be dealing with clinical depression and may need to see a health professional.
It is normal to feel “depressed” feelings at times (if we are tired , something bas has happened, or if we have had a rough day), but actual depression is a more pervasive and extreme set of feelings that should not be ignored or brushed off lightly.
Gender is a risk factor for depression: Women are about twice as likely to experience and be treated for a serious illness of depression than men are. Where 12% of men will experience a serious depression at some time on their lives, about 20% to 25% of women will experience depression.
There are a number of theories as to why this is the case:
- Women may be more likely than men to seek treatment for depression, meaning they are more statistically represented. Men may be less willing to accept the emotional symptoms associated with depression and may feel too proud to seek treatment for their feelings.
- Men may be more likely to suppress their emotional symptoms rather than acknowledge them and talk to someone about their feelings. They are more likely to use substances such as alcohol to suppress these feelings. In this way, the depression is masked under the guise of alcohol or drug dependency.
- Men may experience different emotional symptoms of depression than women. Whereas women may feel helpless and hopeless, men may express their depression through anger and irritability. This means that the depression is more difficult to detect.
- Particularly as many women merge family lives and careers these days, women may experience more stress than men and are thus more likely to become depressed due to all the responsibilities they take on.
- Because women have frequent changes in hormone levels (during monthly menstrual cycles, during and after pregnancy, during menopause), they may be more prone to depression.
- High rates of depression are noted in women who are separated, divorced or are in unhappy marriages.
What are the symptoms of depression in women?
Although each case is unique and every woman may experience a different set of feelings, there are some common symptoms to look out for when dealing with low moods and depression in women, divided into psychological, social and physical effects:
- Thoughts about death and suicide
- Feeling hopeless or helpless
- Extreme mood variations
- Persistent sadness
- Anger, resentment, or irritability
- Feelings of worthlessness
- She may have difficulty concentrating
- Feelings of guilt
- Loss of self-esteem and confidence
- She may inflict self harm
- Problems sleeping; she may have trouble falling asleep, wake up much earlier than usual, or both.
- She may experience a loss of energy and overall tiredness and lethargy
- A loss of appetite
- Sexual problems and/or a loss of sex drive
- She may feel physical aches and pains.
- Avoiding contact with other people, even with close friends and family
- She may find it difficult to enjoy things that she would usually find interesting or pleasurable and show a lack of interest in events and activities.
- Finding it difficult to function at school, home or work
If you suspect that a woman in your life is suffering from depression, it is best to comfort her as much as you can and encourage her to seek treatment. Although you too may feel frustrated at her behavior it is important to remain empathetic and patient. Whatever you do, don’t assure her that nothing is wrong; it is important to confront the problem head-on with treatment to avoid the depression from worsening.