Why depression is more common in women than men?
Domlur, Bengaluru Feb 9, 2017
The major depressive disorder or DEPRESSION is a common but a serious medical condition where one generates negative thoughts and feelings for oneself and others. Depression can ruin or complicate one’s personal and social life, as well as career. It can occur in both men and women of every age belonging to any socio-economic background. Although treatable, if not treated at an initial stage, depression can become severe. The condition can worsen and may lead to drinking, smoking, poor nutrition and sometimes suicidal thoughts and behavior. Down ages women have been considered weak in personality and in physical and emotional aspects. But now the scenario has changed and women of the present generation are breaking age-old stereotypes of our male-dominated society. From being an entrepreneur to a fighter pilot, women are successfully establishing their identity in different fields. Along with their career they also manage family, relationships and social life. In this fast paced frantic world unsurprisingly women are the ones who succumb to depression more easily.
According to a number of surveys around the world it is estimated that one out of five women and one in ten men suffer from depression. Biological, psychological, social and environmental factors are considered the major factors for depression in women. Knowing the signs of depression and factors causing them can help create awareness about depression and reduce the stigma that surrounds it.
Biological and hormonal factors
Menstruation can be one of the biological factors leading to depression in women. Each month during their pre-menstruating phase, women may suffer from mood disorder – commonly called the premenstrual dysphonic disorder (PMDD) which is rather similar to the symptoms of premenstrual syndrome (PMS). Anger and moodiness are the major symptoms for PMDD.
Hormones play the main role during the ovulation phase which further initiates this mental condition. Many women are unaware of the symptoms of PMDD and thus fail to diagnose the condition initially. Anger, mood swing, joint/muscle pain, food craving, feeling lethargic most of the time are some of the symptoms which are to be observed carefully. The best way to minimize the occurrence or suffering is regular exercise, meditation, yoga or any other physical activity which relaxes the mind.
Another biological factor leading to depression is menopause. Similar to the previously mentioned condition, hormonal changes are primarily responsible for menopause. Insomnia, fatigue, restlessness, lack of concentration and negative thoughts are some of the common symptoms of this condition. If the condition is diagnosed in the initial stage, antidepressant medicines can play an important role in the treatment. However, if the medications do not work as expected the doctor may suggest hormone replacement or hormone therapy.
3. Ante partum depression or depression during pregnancy:
Pregnancy is a memorable phase in a women’s life. Along with various physical changes in the expectant mother, there are a number of variations at the hormonal levels. The rapid hormonal changes disrupt the brain chemistry leading to depression and anxiety. Associated risks include slower fetal growth, low birth weight and premature delivery.
4. Postpartum depression:
New mothers usually experience moodiness and anxiety 3-4 days post delivery. These mood swings are termed as postpartum blues and are considered a normal condition in new mothers. But if it does not stop or reduce in 10-12 days, it can progress to depression. Fatigue and insomnia are some of the common symptoms of postpartum depression which if not treated at the earliest can turn out to be severe and can cause hallucinations. Post delivery a women’s body undergoes various hormonal changes such as decrease in progesterone and estrogen levels. This change can sometimes lead to development of depression.
5. Depression caused by social factors:
Social life plays an important role in one’s life. For both men and women social life affects lifestyle, relationships, career, coping skills, etc. but these social factors can also be a cause of depression in women more than in men. The difference is mainly due to problems in relationship, family, financial status or some tragic events in life. Women, who do not socialize at all, also get into depression due to loneliness. They start feeling helpless, alone and unwanted. And if the condition worsens they might show suicidal behavior.
6. Psychological causes:
Majority of women are emotionally weak and sensitive, and think too much when depressed. However, if the worries and problems are discussed with friends, one can be relieved from emotional tension. The ruminating character of women makes them retain depression for a longer time. However, distraction can help to overcome depression. Most women are self conscious in matters of appearance, clothing, belongings, etc. They are hurt if people hold negative opinion about their personality, character or lifestyle. This feeling of sadness can shadow their outgoing or self appraising personality and lead to depression.
7. Environmental factors:
Personality of the person can be affected by the kind of environment they spend time in, such as work/office environment, school/class/college environment. Experiencing discrimination and stress at work place or in schools and colleges can cause poor performance and develop depression. Depression can be an obstacle in fulfilling one’s goal, and can show symptoms like moodiness, anxiety, restlessness, fatigue.
Most women ignore the initial symptoms of depression which can be very dangerous in the later stage. If you experience any of these symptoms consult a doctor/ psychiatrist at the earliest to avoid further complications. Treatment processes mainly consist of medications like antidepressants, hormonal therapies, meditation and yoga sessions. For the cases of depression experienced during pregnancy and post delivery, anti depressants may not be considered safe since intake of these medications can show negative effects on the baby. So, the doctor may continue the treatment process with mental health sessions.
“The only thing more exhausting than being depressed is pretending that you are not.”
Negligence towards self health and prioritizing others’ happiness over yours can ignite depression and can ruin your own mental health. That’s the reason it is an advice to all women out there to keep your health on the top of your priority list and consult a doctor if you experience symptoms of depression more than a week or two. The important thing to remember is that effective treatments are available and, with the right care, one can overcome depression.
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