Depression in Women
Did you know that nearly twice as many women as men
develop depression-related disorders at some point in
their lives? So why the gender difference? Firstly,
women have unique combination of biological, psychosocial
and cultural factors that may increase risk of depression,
and secondly, are more likely to be diagnosed.
Biological Factors in Depression
The female hormones may alter mood through various
stages of life. Drastic fluctuations in hormones can
have a profound effect on a woman's life. This may occur
during any time when hormones fluctuate, in particular
Premenstrual - before menstruation,
cyclical changes in estrogen, progesterone and other
hormones can disrupt the function of brain chemicals,
such as serotonin, that control mood. This can be severe
for some women with depression and hopelessness leading
to disruption in their lives, jobs and relationships.
This condition is known as premenstrual dysphoric disorder
(PMDD), and it may require treatment with hormones or
antidepressants. Genetic factors may influence this
propensity to pre-menstrual depression.
Pregnancy - dramatic hormonal changes
together with changes in life, work and relationship
affect mood and in some cases may trigger depression.
Other issues surrounding pregnancy, such as infertility,
miscarriage or an unwanted pregnancy can also trigger
Postpartum depression - about 50%
of women experience feelings of sadness, anger, irritability
and tearfulness soon after giving birth. These feelings
commonly known as the baby blues — are normal
and generally subside within a week or two.
Perimenopause and menopause - the
risk of depression may increase again during the transition
to menopause (perimenopause), when hormone levels fluctuate
erratically, as well as after menopause, when estrogen
levels are significantly reduced. This can lead to sleep
disruption and depression..
Social and Cultural Factors in Depression
Women are more likely than men to shoulder the burden
of both work and family responsibilities. They are also
- Unequal power and status – can lead
to feelings of injustice, lack of control, lack of
- Work overload – women generally
have to juggle working, caring for children, caring
for sick and older family members and maintaining
a healthy marriage. In many cases this emotional overload
can trigger depression.
- Sexual and physical abuse - women who
have been sexually molested or otherwise abused as
either children or adults are more likely to experience
depression at some point in their lives.
Getting Treatment for Depression
Regardless of the cause of depression, women often
have different symptoms than men. They are more likely
to experience guilt, anxiety, lack of self worth, fatigue,
sleep disturbances, weight gain and carbohydrate craving.
Believing that your condition is hopeless or incurable
is a classic symptom of depression. You might be more
likely than a man to develop depression, but don't assume
you must simply learn to live with it. The right treatment
can help you enjoy life again.
Depression in the
Other Sources of Help
After Delivery, Inc. (DAD)