Causes And Risk Factors
Depression is not a mood you can just get over. It is a disease in which the brain ceases to register pleasurable activities, says Angelino. Indeed, MRI studies with depressed people have found changes in the parts of the brain that play a significant role in depression.
Women are about twice as likely as men to be diagnosed with depression. Youre also more likely to develop depression if you are between ages 45 and 64, nonwhite, or divorced, and if you never graduated high school, cant work or are unemployed, and dont have health insurance. Other risks for depression include factors such as these:
- Experiencing stressful events in your life, such as losing your job, having problems in your marriage, major health problems, and/or financial challenges.
- Having a bad childhood, such as one involving abuse, poor relationships with your parents, and/or your parents own marital problems.
- Certain personality traits, such as getting extremely upset when youre stressed.
- A family history of depression, which can increase your own risk three or four times.
Depression is far more common than you might think, with nearly one out of 10 adults depressed at any time, about half of them severely.
Dealing With The Winter Blues
The reduced daylight hours of winter lead to a form of depression known as seasonal affective disorder . Women are diagnosed with SAD at four times the rate of men. SAD can make you feel like a completely different person to who you are in the summer: hopeless, sad, tense, or stressed, with no interest in friends or activities you normally love. No matter how bad you feel, though, there are plenty of things you can do to keep your mood stable throughout the year.
The Hormones That Affect Depression
There are several hormones that play a part in depression. The relationships between hormones and depression in women include:
Estrogen: Boosts serotonin, which helps fight depression and promotes sleep. It also increases GABA, the calming neurotransmitter and raises endorphins, which help you feel good. Low estrogen levels often found in menopause can cause feelings of sadness and hopelessness.
Progesterone: This hormone helps to balance estrogen, helps promote sleep and has a natural calming effect. It also normalizes libido, is a natural diuretic and a natural antidepressant. Abnormal levels of progesterone cause insomnia and contribute to bad moods.
Cortisol: This stress hormone can cause depression if levels rise too high or fall to far below average. High levels of cortisol can create agitation, increased belly fat, insomnia and sugar cravings. Low levels can be associated with inability to handle stress, extreme fatigue, low libido and mood instability.
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Signs Of Depression In Pregnant Women May Include:
- extreme exhaustion
- sleep disorders
- excessive frequency of crying and extreme crying
- inexplicable mood swings
- inordinate fear of miscarriage
- debilitating behavior such as staying in bed all day
Pregnancy is supposed to be one of the best times in a womans life, full of joys and planning, but there can be depression triggered by worries such as being able to afford to support a child, raising a child alone , or other issues. What appears to occur is that stress centers like these manifest more deeply when a womans hormones are dealing with a pregnancy, and it becomes easier to slide into full-scale clinical depression.
Post-partum depression is one of the better known depressions associated with pregnant women following the delivery of their baby. Their lives may appear to be in perfect order and a healthy baby may have arrived, but the post-birth phase is a common onset for depression, not to be eschewed as a bad mood or other manageable state of mind. Post-partum depression can be very serious and lead to suicide or worse. Never ignore the signs of post-partum depression in yourself or others.
How To Feel Better Tip : Reach Out For Social Support
You can make a huge dent in your depression with simple but powerful self-help steps. Feeling better takes time and effort when you dont feel like making an effort. But you can get there if you make positive choices for yourself each day and draw on the support of others.
Getting support from people who care about you plays an essential role in overcoming depression. On your own, it can be difficult to maintain a healthy perspective and sustain the effort required to beat depression. At the same time, the very nature of depression makes it difficult to reach out for help. When youre depressed, the tendency is to withdraw and isolate, while an irritable mood brought on by depression can cause you to lash out over situations that wouldnt normally bother you, further distancing you from others.
Ask for the help and support you need and share what youre going through with the people you love and trust. You may have neglected your most treasured relationships, but they can get you through this tough time. If you dont feel that you have anyone to confide in, you can find help to build new friendshipseven if youre shy or introverted.
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Depression Affects Each Woman Differently
Not every woman who is depressed experiences every symptom. Some women experience only a few symptoms. Others have many. The severity and frequency of symptoms, and how long they last, will vary depending on the individual and the severity of the illness.
Where Can I Learn More About Depression in Women?
The following agencies have additional information on depression in women.
What Are Signs And Symptoms Of Depression
How do you know if you or your loved one may have depression? Does depression look different as you age? Depression in older adults may be difficult to recognize because older people may have different symptoms than younger people. For some older adults with depression, sadness is not their main symptom. They could instead be feeling more of a numbness or a lack of interest in activities. They may not be as willing to talk about their feelings.
The following is a list of common symptoms. Still, because people experience depression differently, there may be symptoms that are not on this list.
- Persistent sad, anxious, or “empty” mood
- Feelings of hopelessness, guilt, worthlessness, or helplessness
- Irritability, restlessness, or having trouble sitting still
- Loss of interest in once pleasurable activities, including sex
- Decreased energy or fatigue
- Moving or talking more slowly
- Difficulty concentrating, remembering, or making decisions
- Difficulty sleeping, waking up too early in the morning, or oversleeping
- Eating more or less than usual, usually with unplanned weight gain or loss
- Thoughts of death or suicide, or suicide attempts
If you have several of these signs and symptoms and they last for more than two weeks, talk with your doctor. These could be signs of depression or another health condition. Dont ignore the warning signs. If left untreated, serious depression may lead to death by suicide.
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Get Professional Help If Needed
If you dont benefit sufficiently from self-help treatments, seek help from a mental health professional. While women suffering from depression respond to the same types of treatment as men, specific aspects of treatment are often modified for women. Women are also more likely to require simultaneous treatment for other conditions such as anxiety or eating disorders.
Therapy. Talk therapy is an extremely effective treatment for depression. It can provide you with the skills and insight to relieve depression symptoms and help prevent depression from coming back. One of the most important things to consider when choosing a therapist is your connection with this person. The right therapist will be a caring and supportive partner in your depression treatment and recovery.
Medication.Antidepressant medication may help relieve some symptoms of depression in women, but it wont cure the underlying problem. Because of female biological differences, women are generally started on lower doses of antidepressants than men. Women are also more likely to experience side effects, so any medication use should be closely monitored. Dont rely on a doctor who is not trained in mental health for guidance on medication, and remember that medication works best when you make healthy lifestyle changes as well.
Different Forms Of Depression
As women, we have many life roles. Mother, wife, employee, friend, healer, caregiver, and the list goes on. The complexity of all of these roles can cause ups and downs throughout life. Some of these mood changes may be due to life events or may be due to hormones . In general, after a few days, your emotions tend to level out and you dont feel down in the dumps anymore. But, if you are suffering from depression, your downs dont go away after a few days and may interfere with your daily life activities and relationships. This can be a debilitating cycle and can occur due to a number of causes. Symptoms can last weeks, months, or years and can be intermittent or a one-time occurrence.
Depression is almost twice as likely to affect women than men and tends to have different contributing causes in women than it does in men. Contributing factors include reproductive hormones, a differing female response to stress, and social pressures that are unique to a womans life experiences. Listed below are the different forms of depression most common in women.
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Depression During The Postpartum Period
Between 30 and 75 percent of women experience mild postpartum blues lasting four to 10 days. This postpartum depression is characterized by labile mood, tearfulness, irritability, anxiety, and sleep and appetite disturbances.34 Patient education and reassurance are generally adequate treatment measures.34 If physical symptoms and depressed mood persist for two weeks, patients should be evaluated for postpartum major depression, particularly if they have a history of depression.
Postpartum major depression is relatively common, with a prevalence rate approximately the same as that for major depression in nonpregnant women. Symptoms usually begin during the third trimester and are similar to those for major depression. In the United Kingdom, the Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale, a 10-item self-rating scale, is often used to detect postpartum depression.37 The risk of postpartum depression is increased in women with pregravid depression, a history of PMDD during pregnancy, primiparous status, negative life events during pregnancy, an inadequate social support system and marital problems.
Some investigators have found that estrogen therapy may be effective in patients with post-partum major depression.38 Double-blind studies are necessary before this therapy can be recommended for general use.
Depression Tied To Shorter Lifespan
By Lisa Rapaport, Reuters Health
4 Min Read
– People who suffer from depression may not live as long as individuals who dont experience this mental health disorder, a Canadian study suggests.
Researchers examined six decades of mental health and mortality data on 3,410 adults during three time periods: 1952 to 1967, 1968 to 1990 and 1991 to 2011. Depression was associated with an increased risk of premature death in every decade of the study for men, and starting in the 1990s for women.
The connection between depression and a shorter lifespan appeared strongest in the years following a depressive episode, leading the researchers to conclude that at least part of the risk might be reversed by effectively treating the mental illness.
For some individuals depression can be very serious condition, said lead study author Stephen Gilman of the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development.
Given our finding that individuals whose depression was present at multiple time points in our study were at highest risk, it is very important to seek treatment for depression and to be vigilant about recurrences, Gilman said by email.
Depression has long been linked to a variety of health problems, in part because it may lead to physiological changes in the body and also because it can contribute to unhealthy habits like a poor diet, inactivity, smoking and excessive drinking.
SOURCE: bit.ly/2zDrd1R CMAJ, online October 23, 2017.
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How Is Depression Treated
Depression, even severe depression, can be treated. Its important to seek treatment as soon as you begin noticing signs. If you think you may have depression, start by making an appointment to see your doctor or health care provider.
Certain medications or medical conditions can sometimes cause the same symptoms as depression. A doctor can rule out these possibilities through a physical exam, learning about your health and personal history, and lab tests. If a doctor finds there is no medical condition that is causing the depression, he or she may suggest a psychological evaluation and refer you to a mental health professional such as a psychologist to perform this test. This evaluation will help determine a diagnosis and a treatment plan.
Common forms of treatment for depression include:
Women Over : Your Personal Checklist
Get in touch with mind and body — and they’ll take you anywhere you want to go. These tips get you started.
For women, turning 50 is a milestone. Society tells you it’s a crossroads. Your body underscores the point. Every woman over 50 feels it.
“The kids are going to college, parents are aging. There may be marriage problems, job challenges. It’s definitely a stressful time,” says Jennifer Zreloff, MD, an internist with the executive health program at Emory University School of Medicine. “You also find that you can’t abuse your body as much as when you were younger. Your body just isn’t as resilient as it used to be. It’s a time when women need to seriously take stock of their lifestyle habits, and make some changes.”
For many women over 50, it’s also a time of self-reflection, says Cynthia Barnett, EdD, a retirement lifestyle specialist in Norwalk, Conn. “You begin thinking about your purpose in life, about finding what makes you happy and fulfilled. You may be ready for something new, work you love to do.”
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Medication Drugs And Alcohol
Some medication can have negative side effects on your mental health, often promoting feelings of anxiety and depression. The effects of certain medication does, of course, differ from individual to individual, but if you are worried about the side effects of any prescribed medication that you may be taking, be sure to consult your GP.
Both legal drugs and illegal drugs can affect temperament and mood depending on what they are and how often you consume them .
How Are Pms And Pmdd Treated
Many women who have depression along with PMS or PMDD find improvement through exercise or meditation. For those with severe symptoms, medicine, individual or group psychotherapy, or stress management may help. Your primary care doctor or OB/GYN is a good place to start. Your doctor can screen you for depression and treat your symptoms.
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How Does Depression Manifest In Older And Geriatric Women
The signs of depression in women over 50 and well into their 90s is of a narrow description and tends to be more deeply related to post-menopausal hormones, and the circumstances of aging and overall reduced good health.
Menopause causes yet another grand shift in the hormonal balance of women, and can cause depression. While many women report euphoria at the absence of monthly periods, and the freedom that accompanies it, this also signals the confirmed end of the child-bearing years, and to some women that is more than just a sign of inevitable old age. Certain medications that are used as hormone replacement therapy are known to have depressive side-effects. Women tend, also, to lose one or both parents during this period in their lives, and some also lose their spouses to death or divorce. Menopause is a volatile time for women and depression, even if they have never experienced it before, can set in.
Geriatric women have a litany of issues that can lead to depression. The signs of depression in elderly women are largely derived from circumstances such as facing the demise of their lives, widowhood, financial hardship, physical illness and infirmity, and in some cases distance from family and friends. The signs of depression in women over 70 include:
What You Can Do
While aging is an inevitable part of life, depression need not be part of it. Researchers agree that early recognition, diagnosis, and treatment can counteract and prevent depressions emotional and physical consequences.
Here are some issues to consider in addressing depression in an older adult:
- Be aware of physical limitations. Encourage an older adult to consult with a physician before making dietary changes or undertaking any new activity that may stress his or her stamina.
- Respect individual preferences. Because elderly people tend to be less amenable to lifestyle changes, they may be reluctant to adopt new habits or do things that their peers find highly enjoyable. A psychologist who specializes in aging issues can help tailor an individualized strategy to combat depression.
- Be tactful. An older person with fragile self-esteem may interpret well-intentioned encouragement as further proof of his or her declining condition. Others may resent any attempts at intervention. A psychologist can help friends and family members craft positive approaches for dealing with these and other sensitive issues.
APA gratefully acknowledges the assistance of Susan Silk, PhD, in developing this fact sheet.
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What Is The Impact Of Depression On Pregnancy
The potential impact of depression on a pregnancy includes:
- Affecting a woman’s ability to care for themselves during pregnancy. They may be less able to follow medical recommendations and to sleep and eat properly.
- Causing a woman to use substances such as tobacco, alcohol, and/or illegal drugs, which could harm the baby.
- Making it hard to bond with the baby.
Pregnancy may have an impact on depression in women:
- The stresses of pregnancy can contribute to the start of depression, a recurrence of depression symptoms, or worsening symptoms.
- Depression during pregnancy can raise the risk of depression after delivery .