Hormonal Changes Trigger Anxiety
Numerous studies show an association between hormonal changes such as those involved in pregnancy, menstruation, and menopause and these mood disorders. In fact, a study conducted by Harvard and Emory University neuroscientists suggests that low levels of estrogen can lead to anxiety and other mood disorders, while higher levels can soothe emotional disturbances.
Similarly, there is scientific evidence that testosterone may also calm certain types of anxiety. Low testosterone levels in men are not only associated with higher anxiety levels, but patients with social anxiety disorder are typically found to have lower levels of testosterone.
In fact, in a 2016 study, researchers discovered that a single dose of testosterone administered to women diagnosed with SAD lessened submissive reactions and reduced social anxiety.
The fact that men naturally have higher levels of testosterone could explain why they are less prone to this condition than women.
Why Are Stress Levels Among Women 50% Higher Than Men
The do it all generation of females is feeling the strain, with working women far more stressed than men.
Women aged between 35-54 – who are likely to be juggling many roles including mother, carer for elderly parents, homemaker and sometimes breadwinner – experience significantly higher stress than men, according to latest Health and Safety Executive statistics.
The figures prompted calls from a leading Priory psychiatrist for more to be done within the workplace to help women struggling to combine family life, target-driven jobs and often a hefty sleep deficit to achieve a better quality of life.
Keys To Warding Off Depression
What I find very persuasive about this adaptive hypothesis, however in addition to the reported data is that many existing theories of depression would not make the predictions tested by Hagen & Rosenstrom in the first place. For example, those who claim something like, depressed people perceive the world more accurately would be at a bit of a loss to explain why those who perceive the world more accurately also seem to have lower upper-body strength . A plausible adaptive hypothesis, on the other hand, is useful for guiding our search for, and understanding of, the proximate causes of depression.
References: Hagen, E.H. . The bargaining model of depression. In: Genetic and Cultural Evolution of Cooperation, P. Hammerstein . MIT Press, 95-123
Hagen, E. & Rosenstrom, T. . Explain the sex difference in depression with a unified bargaining model of anger and depression. Evolution, Medicine, & Public Health, 117-132
Sell, A., Tooby, J., & Cosmides, L. . Formidability and the logic of human anger. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 106, 15073-78.
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Watch The Better Movie Trailer:
If you often struggle with anxiety while your male acquaintances always seem calm and in control, youre not alone. Research suggests that women do indeed experience anxiety more often than men.
In 2016, researchers reviewed 48 studies on the prevalence of anxiety disorders globally and discovered that women are nearly twice as likely as men to experience this condition.
This is not a new finding. Studies have long shown that women are twice as likely to develop generalized anxiety disorder , panic disorder, and post traumatic stress disorder as men.
Of the several types of anxiety disorders, only obsessive compulsive disorder and social anxiety disorder are equally prevalent among men and women.
Moreover, sex differences in general anxiety can be seen in early childhood, before the age of 4. By the time children reach 6, anxiety levels in girls are about twice as high as in boys, which matches the ratio later seen in women vs men.
What is less known is the reason why women are more susceptible to these disorders.
How Is Postpartum Depression In Women Treated
Sometimes postpartum depression, or depression after childbirth, can be treated like other forms of depression. That means using medicines and psychotherapy. If a woman is breastfeeding, the decision to take an antidepressant should be made with the pediatrician along with their own psychiatrist after a discussion of risks and benefits. Most antidepressants are expressed in very small amounts in breast milk and their possible effects on a nursing infant, if any, are not well-understood.
A drug called brexanolone was approved specifically to treat postpartum depression. Given through an IV over a course of 3 days, it has been found to bring relief to most women.
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What Can I Do If Im Worried About My Mental Health
If you want some tips on staying well, start by looking at our 10 practical ways to look after your mental health. Making simple changes such as talking about your feelings, keeping active and eating well can help you feel better.
If youre concerned youre developing a mental health problem, talk to your GP. It can be daunting, but most people find that speaking to their GP and getting help and support can make a big difference to their lives.
If you’re in distress and need immediate help or are feeling like ending your life, please call 999 or go to A& E and ask for the contact of the nearest crisis resolution team. These are teams of mental health care professionals who work with people in severe distress.
There are organisations that offer practical and emotional advice and support. Find out more on our getting help page.
Men’s Symptoms Of Depression May Be Harder For Others To Recognize
Although women are hit harder by depression and are more vulnerable to it because of their biology, the illness is missed more frequently in men, Goldstein told Live Science.
Health care professionals and even family members may not pick up on depressive symptoms in men, so they can end up with severe depression before it’s detected, she explained.
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Why Dont Men Talk About Mental Health
Society’s expectations and traditional gender roles play a role in why men are less likely to discuss or seek help for their mental health problems. We know that gender stereotypes about women the idea they should behave or look a certain way, for example can be damaging to them. But its important to understand that men can be damaged by stereotypes and expectations too.
Men are often expected to be the breadwinners and to be strong, dominant and in control. While these arent inherently bad things, they can make it harder for men to reach out for help and open up.
Some research also suggests that men who cant speak openly about their emotions may be less able to recognise symptoms of mental health problems in themselves, and less likely to reach out for support.
Men may also be more likely to use potentially harmful coping methods such as drugs or alcohol and less likely to talk to family or friends about their mental health. However, research suggests men will access help that meets their preferences and is easy to access, meaningful and engaging. For example, Men’s Sheds provides community spaces for men to connect and chat, often over practical activities.
Women Twice As Likely As Men To Have Depression Survey Finds
Women are twice as likely as men to be depressed, a new survey finds.
In any given two-week period, about 8 percent of Americans report they are depressed.
The new data from the National Center for Health Statistics finds there has not been a significant worsening of depression in the U.S. over the past decade. But it shows giant disparities in who suffers from depression.
And a second study found that most of these people are not getting treatment.
Women were almost twice as likely as were men to have had depression, the team at NCHS, part of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, wrote. Between 2013 and 2016, 5.5 percent of men reported having had symptoms of depression, compared to 10.4 percent of women.
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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 .
The Toll Of Societal Pressure
The final reason why women may be more prone to depression and anxiety is societal and cultural. Gender inequality, along with societal pressures on women , very likely play a role in why women experience higher rates of mental illness.
Some researchers believe that women are simply more likely to report their depression or anxiety, while men try to tough it out.
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Table 2 Explanations For The Increased Rates Of Depression In Women
|A.ArtifactDifferences in reporting stress and distress
Characteristics of the Female Stereotype
- Does not use harsh language
- Eager to soothe hurt feelings
- Sensitive to the needs of others
Characteristics of the Male Stereotype
- Acts as a leader
- Willing to take a stand
- Willing to take risks
This controversial issue will probably last a lifetime, and men will more than likely be offended by the standpoint that I proposed in this paper. In my defense, in almost every psychology textbook or reference, you will find that other researchers believe that women are more susceptible to depression than are men.
Early Trauma And Abuse
One of the more well-studied depression risk factors is trauma in early childhood. Adverse Childhood Experiences are known to increase a persons lifetime risk of developing both mental and chronic physical illness, including depression. Research into ACEs is ongoing, but previous studies have confirmed a strong link between specific childhood experiences and depression later in life.
The CDC groups ACEs into three types:
- Abuse: Physical, emotional, sexual
- Household dysfunction: Domestic violence, divorce, substance use, a parent who is mentally ill, a parent who is incarcerated
- Neglect: Physical, emotional
An individuals ACE score is strongly linked to their risk of mental and physical illness, poverty, and even early death. Risk increases as the number of ACEs increases and a person with four or more ACEs is at the highest risk.
Researchers believe that child abuse may change the brain physically, as well as alter its connectivity structure. Studies have also shown that neuroendocrine function may be altered in people who experienced high levels of stress as children.
A 2019 study from the Massachusetts General Hospital has even proposed that traumatic experiences in the first three years of life may even change a child’s DNA.
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Why Depression Is More Common In Women Than In Men
Carly Snyder, MD is a reproductive and perinatal psychiatrist who combines traditional psychiatry with integrative medicine-based treatments.
It has been widely documented that there are gender differences in depression prevalence, with women experiencing major depression more often than men. This risk exists independent of race or ethnicity.
One large-scale 2017 study found that these gender differences emerge starting at age 12, with girls and women being twice as likely as men to experience depression. Several risk factors have been studied that might account for gender differences in rates of depression.
Symptoms Of Depression Among Women
How do we know if what one is experiencing is actually depression?
Depression doesnt feel or look the same for everyone. The symptoms, how often they occur, and how they are manifested vary from person to person.
But here are the most common symptoms of depression that females experience:
- Sadness that lasts for weeks or months
- Anxiety and feelings of emptiness that last for weeks or months
- Feeling hopeless
- Loss of interest in doing regular activities or hobbies
- Irritability and restlessness
- Feeling disconnected from your baby
- Feeling guilty about not being a good mother
- Thoughts of harming your baby
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Risk Factors For Depression
Experiences that may put some women at a higher risk for depression can include
- Stressful live events.
- Being a mom to multiples, like twins, or triplets.
- Being a teen mom.
- Preterm labor and delivery.
- Pregnancy and birth complications.
- Having a baby who has been hospitalized.
Depression can also occur among women with a healthy pregnancy and birth.
Women Are More Likely To Ruminate When Feeling Depressed
Dwelling on and rehashing negative feelings, known as ruminating, occurs more commonly in women who have depression in comparison to men who have the illness. This behavior may involve negative self-talk, crying for no obvious reason and blaming oneself.
Rumination does not help people, and in fact tends to make them feel worse, Goldstein said. Unlike women, men tend to distract themselves when feeling down, which helps ease depression.
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Dangers Of Depression And Anxiety
Depression and anxiety can cause more than emotional and physical distress they can be dangerous for your health.
For example, anxiety or depression can increase blood pressure and lead to cardiovascular disease . Research shows that major depressive disorder is the second leading cause of disability and contributes to ischemic heart disease. It also significantly increases the risk of suicide.
These research results were so compelling that they persuaded the American Heart Association to officially list depression as a heart disease risk factor in 2014.
Tip : Support Your Health
In order to overcome depression, you have to do things that relax and energize you. This includes following a healthy lifestyle, learning how to better manage stress, setting limits on what youre able to do, and scheduling fun activities into your day.
Aim for eight hours of sleep. Depression typically involves sleep problems whether youre sleeping too little or too much, your mood suffers. But you can get on a better sleep schedule by adopting healthy sleep habits.
Keep stress in check. Not only does stress prolong and worsen depression, but it can also trigger it. Figure out all the things in your life that stress you out, such as work overload, money problems, or unsupportive relationships, and find ways to relieve the pressure and regain control.
Practice relaxation techniques.A daily relaxation practice can help relieve symptoms of depression, reduce stress, and boost feelings of joy and well-being. Try yoga, deep breathing, progressive muscle relaxation, or meditation.
Care for a pet. While nothing can replace the human connection, pets can bring joy and companionship into your life and help you feel less isolated. Caring for a pet can also get you outside of yourself and give you a sense of being neededboth powerful antidotes to depression.
Develop a wellness toolbox to deal with depression
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The Impact Of Work Related Stress
The Priory Group, which runs the largest network of mental healthcare hospitals and clinics in the UK, has recently opened high street clinics in London, Canterbury and Birmingham to help to treat work stress and other conditions including alcohol and drug addiction.
According to official figures, there are now a record number of women in work – with more than 14 million saying they are in some form of employment.
Meanwhile, a Government report in 2014 calculated that 70 million days a year are lost due to stress, depression and other mental health conditions. The cost to the economy is estimated to be £70bn-£100bn a year.
For details of how Priory can provide you with assistance regarding mental health and wellbeing, please call 0800 840 3219 or . For professionals looking to make a referral, please click here
Diet And Physical Activity
Recent studies have indicated that adults with mild depression may be able to prevent an episode of major depression through a combination of lifestyle changes. Gut microbes and diet may also play a role in the development of depression. Some research has also shown that certain diets, such as the Mediterranean diet, might help older adults avoid depression.
On the other hand, diets that are high in sugar and trans fat, especially heavily processed food, can promote or worsen depression, especially when paired with a sedentary lifestyle. A possible reason for the link is that diets high in these foods can lead to weight gain. Although, weight gain alone does not necessarily lead to depression.
While weight gain may be associated with the the onset of depression, it should also be mentioned that eating foods high in sugar or trans fats can disturb the balance of the gut microbiome. This can lead to a leaky gut. The immune system gets alerted and releases cytokines that can cross the blood-brain barrier, leading to alterations in neurochemicals. For example, some cytokines can shift production away from serotonin and into glutamate, which, when present in excessive amounts, causes cell damage or cell death. When this occurs, it can trigger anxiety or depression.
In fact, a 2018 study found that people were more likely to become depressed if they were overweighteven if the extra weight wasnt causing other health problems such as high blood pressure or type 2 diabetes.
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