Depression in women
It is well known that about twice as many women as men experience depression. It was noted that girls 14-18 years of age have consistently higher rates of depression than boys in the same age group. Scientists discovered several factors which are responsible for increased frequency of depression in women.
Millions of women experience depression each year. Depression is a serious medical condition that can occur in any woman – about one in every 7-8 women experience clinical depression during their lifetime. Women could have depression at any time of their life but most frequently depression is observed during reproductive period of women life – at 25-44. Depression in women does not have age limitation, race differences or social peculiarities.
National Institutes of Mental Health (NIMH) published interesting information about depression in women:
- One in four women will experience severe depression at some point in life;
- Depression affects twice as many women as men, regardless of racial and ethnic background or income;
- Depression is the number one cause of disability in women;
- In general, married women experience depression more than single women do, and depression is common among young mothers who stay at home full-time with small children;
- Women who are victims of sexual and physical abuse are at much greater risk of depression;
- At least 90 percent of all cases of eating disorders occur in women, and there is a strong relationship between eating disorders and depression;
- Depression can put women at risk of suicide. While more men than women die from suicide, women attempt suicide about twice as often as men do;
- Only about one-fifth of all women who suffer from depression seek treatment.
Depression affects women body, mood and thoughts. Many women described the depression as feeling sad, unhappy, miserable or down in the dumps but most women feel the same at least once during life period. Does it mean all women experience depression at least once? Answer is NO. The real clinical illness called “depression” means a very specific mood disorder in which feelings of sadness, loss, anger, or frustration interfere with everyday life for an extended period (weeks, months, years).
Depression in women
Why women suffer from depression more frequently?
Answer is not clear but there are several contributing factors which make women an easy target for depression. Women body development, reproductive functions, hormones, genetic and general biological differences are contributing to depression development. Medical professionals noted higher frequency of depression in women during premenstrual period, pregnancy, post-partum, and menopause as well as during infertility.
Several surveys also discovered some social factors which could lead to higher rates of depression in women – stress and pressure at work place and family, sexual and/or physical abuse, social pressure in many societies, difficulties in career development, poverty.
Risk factors which increase women chances for depression development:
- Hormonal factors (female hormones, menstrual cyclic cycles, hormonal changes during pregnancy, miscarriage, delivery, postpartum period, premenopause, menopause);
- Stress and stressful situations (stress at work place and in family, stressful relations, stresses during caring about children and aging parents, extended family responsibilities);
- Genetic factors (family history of depression);
- Chemical differences or imbalance or changes in the brain chemistry;
- Medical illnesses (stroke, heart attack, breast cancer and cancer of reproductive organs, Parkinson’s disease).
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