In the U.S alone, about 15 million people suffer from depression annually. Although majority are women,
almost two-thirds do not seek help.
- Are you among the two-thirds?
- Are you wondering if you are depressed?
- How do you know if you are depressed?
Given the scary statistics on women, you can understand why I feel the need to do a post on depression and women.
WOMEN AND DEPRESSION
Women are twice as likely to develop clinical depression as men. Almost up to one in four women is likely to have at least one episode of major depression at some point in life.
between you and three of your close girlfriends, one of you is going to have a major depression episode at some point.
Depression is common, depression is real and no it doesn’t just happen to ‘other people.’
Depression can happen to anyone, including you and me.
So then, what exactly is depression?
WHAT IS DEPRESSION?
According to Webmd,
clinical depression is a serious and pervasive mood disorder.
It causes feelings of sadness, hopelessness, helplessness, and worthlessness.
Depression can be mild to moderate with symptoms of apathy, little appetite, difficulty sleeping, low self-esteem, and low-grade fatigue. Or it can be more severe.
WHAT ARE THE SYMPTOMS?
In women, symptoms of depression include:
- Persistent sadness, anxiety, or a sense of ’emptiness’
- Little or no interest or pleasure in activities, including sex
- Restlessness, irritability, or excessive crying
- Feelings of guilt, worthlessness, helplessness, hopelessness, pessimism
- Sleeping too much or too little, middle of the night wakings
- Loss of appetite &/ weight loss or overeating & weight gain
- Decreased energy, fatigue, feeling ‘sluggish’
- Contemplation of death or suicide, or suicide attempts
- Trouble concentrating, remembering or making decisions
- Persistent physical symptoms that do not respond to treatment, such as headaches, digestive disorders, and chronic pain
WHY DO WOMEN GET DEPRESSION MORE OFTEN THAN MEN?
I. Women’s Hormonal Fluctuations
The fluctuations of hormones level throughout a woman’s life have been believed to be a major factor. Hormones changes are most evident during significant periods in a woman’s life.
- Premenstrual stress can also cause depression, anxiety and mood swings one week before menstruation.
- Pregnancy, infertility, miscarriage, unwanted pregnancy
- Postpartum depression
- Perimenopause and menopause
II. Health Challenges
- Chronic illness
- Quitting vices/addictions (e.g. alcohol, drugs, smoking)
- Medication side effects (E.g. birth control medication, hormone replacement therapy.)
Women are more likely to ruminate when they are depressed. We cry to relieve our emotional tension, have negative inner dialogues and confide in friends about our depression.
The thing is,
rumination reinforces depression
and can make it worse.
II. Environmental stressors
Stress from work, school or at home can affect women more than men. Studies have shown that women are more likely to develop depression from stress, as compared to men.
Also, the female physiological response
to stress is to produce
MORE stress hormones.
The female sex hormone progesterone does not turn off the stress hormone system the way it does in men.
III. Body Image Issues
Ah, this is the bomb for women. And often, it already starts in puberty. Not only does a young girl experiences the challenges and confusion that comes with puberty, she would have already been exposed to the implicit and explicit expectations of society about women, by observing her environment and the female figures in her life. And of course,
the impossible perfect body.
Social factors, lifestyle choices, relationships and coping skills can become potential breeding grounds for depression as well.
- Marital or love relationships, balancing the demands of romance, home life and career.
- Family duties, such as caring for the spouse, the young and the aging.
- Work challenges or discrimination at work such as skipped for a promotion or even retrenchment.
- Death and sickness of loved ones.
4. OTHER FACTORS
Factors that can increase the chance of depression in women.
- Psychological or personality characteristics
- Being a single parent
- Family history of mood disorders
- History of mood disorders in early reproductive years
- Loss of a parent before age 10
- Loss of social support system or the threat of such a loss
- Ongoing psychological and social stress
- Physical or sexual abuse
HOW TO COPE WITH DEPRESSION
As you can see, depression is common for women,
you are not alone.
While it is challenging to be enthusiastic about resolving your depression issue while in depression, you can start with baby steps.
Here are some suggestions on what you can do to slowly move yourself out of the black vacuum that you are feeling.
I will keep this short because I would like to do a separate post on techniques to cope with depression.
Find a friend who can be an open and non-judgemental listener for you.
If there is none, there are always counselors and therapists near you whom you can seek help from.
Be it a slow walk by the park or a vigorous kick boxing session, exercise releases endorphins, that can make you feel good and better about yourself.
Have at least 6-8 of sleep. Do not shortchange yourself on quality sleep that can help you to rest, repair and rejuvenate.
Make time for stillness to centered yourself back to your core again. Breath works is great too. My favorite tool is Insight App.
Just for two minutes every night, list down the blessings that still abounds in your life. Breath and expand the sensation of gratitude in your heart.
About 60% of the human body is water. Make sure you drink enough water everyday to stay hydrated and to minimize disruptions in the bodily functions/processes. Avoid or minimize alcohol or dehydrating fluids like coffee.
Whatever is your spiritual or religious beliefs, seek constant inspiration and draw strength from it. There must be a reason why this is your spirituality, anchor on it.
Sunlight is your friend
Get outdoors, breath in the fresh air, and soak in the sunlight. It will do wonders for your body, mind and spirit.
Better still, book a session of Open-Hearted Walk with me and you get counseling plus a refreshing outdoor walk, all in one! 🙂
Be involved in social activities, meet up with your friends. Join a new social club or interest group!
Explore psycho-therapy, energy healing. For example, Aroma Freedom Technique is known to be a quick process that helps you process past negative feelings and memories, so that you can let go of the past and move your emotional energy into a positive direction.
Challenge your thoughts
When that negative voice starts again, challenge it. Don’t just accept it. Ask for evidence for what it’s saying and think of times/evidence when it was not the case.
Even when you don’t feel like it, still get up and moving. Continue to meet friends, walk the dog, show up for work. Keep going!
So, are you depressed?
What jumped out at you from this post?
Use this depression quiz to determine where you are.
It is important to seek support and even professional help if you are depressed. First thing first, awareness. Use the depression quiz to gain awareness.
Be kind to yourself today dear one.
Grab your depression quiz here.
~ Nurturing Resilience, Vitality and Self-love in Women ~