Depression in Women
“Sadness is a sickness in which every patient should treat themselves”.
As a woman, the feminine world has always interested me, as have questions of how and why women have different answers from our life partners, men.
The article “Why Are Men So Different from Us?” based on the book “The Feminine Brain” by the professor of neuropsychiatry Louann Brizendine, served as my inspiration for this article. An interesting book published in 2006 and surrounded by controversy, it raises the topic of depression in women, which is what I will explore here.
Depression is an important topic in psychology and psychiatry, as much for women as for men. Because of its prevalence, depression has gained the nickname “the flu of psychiatry.”
Statistics show that one out of ten people has suffered or will suffer from depression sometime in their life and that women are twice as likely to suffer from depression, due to conditions like puberty, pregnancy, postpartum, or menopause.
According to recent research, there are a number of factors making women more predisposed to depression than men:
1 – Genetics
A woman with a family history of depression is more likely to develop depression, although it is not a determining factor. Many times the reason the woman suffers from depression has to do with a combination of genetics and psychological factors.
2 – Hormones
The hormonal changes we women suffer are a breeding ground for depression considering that they influence brain chemicals and, therefore, our emotions. There are various times in a woman’s life when hormones can influence depression.
During puberty, the desire for approval from friends, and above all boys, especially in terms of physical appearance can be triggers for depression. Additionally girls are more frequent targets of sexual abuse or mistreatment by boys, which can also be a cause. A study has shown that while 70% of girls suffer from depression only 14% of boys suffer from it.
Premenstrual dysphoric disorder affects some women. On the week before menstruation, women with this disorder especially suffer alterations in brain chemistry that can lead them to suffering from depression.
Postpartum depression is also common. The hormonal changes, dealing with a new life, the responsibility of raising a child are other causes of depression in women, although it usually occurs more frequently in women that have suffered this illness before. Nevertheless we should not confuse “baby blues”, which occurs many times after birth, with depression.
Perimenopause, which precedes menopause, can cause depression due to the hormonal changes our body suffers during this time.
3 – Brain chemistry
An upset in the balance of neurotransmitters like dopamine, seratonin, or norepinephrine can cause depression.
4 – Stress
There are situations especially stressful and/or sad in our lives like the loss of a loved one, the loss of a job, physical or psychological mistreatment. We should note that women, generally, tend to ruminate more than men over any problem, therefore these situations are also breeding grounds for depression.
5 – Socio-cultural pressures
Women feel social pressure to be a type of “Superwoman” — to be a successful woman at work, the perfect wife and mother, and to be physically in shape. This pressure often leads to depression.
6 – Life expectancy
The life expectancy of a woman is greater than that of a man and therefore they have more time to develop this mental illness.
7 – A higher frequency of women seeking help
Women have less difficulty expressing their problems and turning to specialists. For this reason more female cases of depression are known than male.