Depression Symptoms and Its Consequences For Women

Going through hard times is a constant thing in life, but having consistent bad days and difficult times can lead to depression. Depression affects your way of life, and it also hampers your daily activities like your career, sleeping, eating, thinking and so on.

Sometimes seen as a taboo, something not to be discussed in public, depression is an unlikely topic to be brought up at a dinner party. However, it is hugely prevalent in society today. In fact, 1 in 5 adults live with a mental health issue with over 56% of those with a mental illness not seeking treatment.

Women are twice as likely to have depression, which makes women even more vulnerable in society today. This makes for a difficult time for women in a society that already puts so much pressure on females to where depression can feel like one more thing a women has to deal with in her constant state of seeking perfection. As women are already scrutinized, depression brings to the table a whole new level of stigmatization when seeking help or obtaining prescriptions.  However, this is not something that impacts women few and far between. It is much more common than one would think.  Let’s look at some of the factors.

Symptoms of Depression in Women

·         Persistent sadness

·         Anxiety  

·         Loss of passion and excitement about anything including:

  • Sex
  • Restlessness
  • Irritability
  • Excessive crying
  • Feelings of guilt, worthlessness, helplessness, hopelessness, pessimism

·         Sleeping too much or too little, early-morning waking

·         Appetite and/or weight loss, or overeating and weight gain

·         Decreased energy, fatigue, feeling "slowed down."

·         Thoughts of death or suicide, or suicide attempts

·         Difficulty concentrating, remembering, or making decisions

·         Persistent physical symptoms that do not respond to treatment, such as headaches, digestive disorders, and chronic pain

Depression in women differs from depression in men

Depression in women often occurs earlier, lasts longer, is more likely to recur, is more likely to be associated with stressful life events, and is more sensitive to seasonal changes. Simply put, depression is not a one-size-fits-all disease. It can impact lives differently.  Women are more likely to experience guilty feelings and attempt suicide, although they actually commit suicide less often than men. Women are more likely to be associated with anxiety disorders, especially panic and phobic symptoms, and eating disorders. (https://www.webmd.com)

Reasons why depression is re-occurring more in women than in men

As discussed, depression can present itself in many different shapes and forms. However, the fact that it is more likely to recur in women rather than men is an interesting observation. Here’s a look as to how biology impacts women and what factors into what may make women more depression prone.

Puberty: is the time in life when a girl becomes sexually mature. It is signaled by the hormones to the reproductive organs stimulating libido. Experts believe that the increased chance of depression in women may be related to changes in hormone levels that occur throughout a woman's life

Pregnancy: During pregnancy, estrogen, and progesterone increase rapidly and that fuels mood swings in women. Even during childbirth or during labor, stress hormones increase and this period for women is characterized by elevated anxiety, tension, and fear. All these could lead on to a depressed state of mind. Women can also get postpartum depression after the birth of a baby

Miscarriage: Women having recurring miscarriages tend to be prone to anxiety and depression, having emotional breakdown anytime that happens.

Menstruation: During this period in a woman's life, hormone fluctuations occur with each month's menstrual cycle, which could cause depression as well as the mood swings that occurs the week before menstruation. They tend to interfere with the normal functioning of a woman's daily life.

Stress: Women are always the ones involved in the upbringing of the children, and they juggle that with domestic work as well as their career. Women have been created in such a way that they can multitask, but that could be an issue when they are not balanced emotionally, and they still have to go through that stress.

Physical or sexual abuse as a child: When a girl child experiences physical abuse or rape in her formative years, she could be potentially become depressed.

Tragedy: Tragedy in whatever form could also be a potential signal to depression.

Aside from the above, ongoing psychological and social stress brought about by the loss of a job, relationship stress, separation or divorce also leads to mood disorders and eventually a depressed state.

Stigmatization of medication for depression on women

Quite a number of depressed patients are often stigmatized when taking their drugs, especially if they are out when the time comes for them to use the drugs.

Medications can be very effective, but they can also be a disaster when not used appropriately. Indiscriminate use of these medicines could cause more harm than good. Also, physicians don't help matters in prescribing without clearly telling patients about the potential side effects and all.

The rampant use of these medications is hurting our society. It has been estimated that the use of antidepressants has gone up 400% in the last two decades and that nearly a quarter of all females (23%) between the ages of 40-59 are taking them.

Prevention of depression

Alongside the help of your doctor and prescriptions (should you choose to get one), there are many other ways one can work to fight depression. Simple changes that can be incorporated into your everyday life in order to help you get back to your healthy self.  Below are a few tips to help prevent depression.

Exercise (walk like you are running late for 45 minutes a day)! In a study comparing exercise to antidepressants, they were equally effective at 12 weeks, and exercise was more effective at ten months.

A healthy, anti-inflammatory diet. Lose the processed foods and sugar, and foods that quickly turn to sugar. A Mediterranean Diet was shown to have antidepressant effects.

Start taking fish oil to boost omega-3s, especially in the form of EPA. We usually recommend starting with 3,000 mg of fish oil a day.

Work with a therapist to kill the ANTs (automatic negative thoughts) that fuel depression. Negative thinking patterns provide the gas for anxiety and depression.

Depression can be a very difficult disease to live with but that doesn’t mean it is unlivable. Once the decision has been made to get help, there are many different ways one can help themselves. From medication to daily activity changes, depression can be worked on and through. Women often feel the brunt of societal backlash, and with depression and medications, it is just the same. But in this day and age, it is much more important to, get the help needed than to suffer in silence.