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FC Home Symptoms & Warning Signs Depression & Women

DEPRESSION & WOMEN | Print |

Below is information that has been re-printed from WebMD (www.webmd.com) on women and depression.  If you are concerned that you, or someone that you know, may have a problem with depression, please call the Fulton County Department of Behavioral Health & Developmental Disabilities at (404) 613-3675.  Our Behavioral Health Access & Information Line is available Monday thru Friday from 8:30 AM to 5:00 PM.  If you need assistance after those hours, please call the Georgia Crisis & Access Line at 1-800-715-4225.

DEPRESSION & WOMEN

Woman's face 

According to WebMD, about 15 million Americans experience depression every year.  The majority of them are women; however, nearly two-thirds of women do not get the help that they need.

Depression in women is very common.  In fact, women are twice as likely to develop clinical depression as men.   And as many as one out of every four women is likely to experience an episode of major depression in some point in life.

WHAT IS DEPRESSION?

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 major depression with symptoms of depressed mood most of the day, diminished interest in daily activities, weight loss or gain, insomnia or hypersomnia (oversleeping), fatigue, feelings of guilt almost daily, and recurring thoughts of death or suicide.

 

THE SYMPTOMS OF DEPRESSION IN WOMEN

Sick woman

According to WebMD, the symptoms of depression in women include the following:

  • Persistent sad, anxious, or "empty" mood
  • Loss of 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, early-morning awakening 
  • Appetite and/or weight loss or overeating and weight gain
  • Decreased energy, fatigue, feeling "slowed down"
  • Thoughts of death or suicide, or suicide attempts
  • Difficulty concentrating, remembering, or making decisions
  • Persistent physical symptoms that do not respond to treatment, such as headaches, digestive disorders, and chronic pain

SYMPTOMS OF MANIA IN WOMEN

Mania is a highly elevated mood that sometimes occurs with bipolar disorder.  Moods in bipolar disorder swing from the lows of depression to the highs of mania.  Even though mania is an elevated mood, it is serious and needs medical assessment and treatment.  The symptoms of mania include:

  • Abnormally elevated mood
  • Irritability
  • Decreased need for sleep
  • Grandiose ideas
  • Greatly increased talking
  • Racing thoughts
  • Increased activity, including sexual activity
  • Markedly low energy
  • Poor judgment that leads to risk-taking behavior
  • Inappropriate social behavior

WHY IS DEPRESSION IN WOMEN MORE COMMON THAN DEPRESSION IN MEN?

Couple

According to WebMD, before adolescence, the rate of depression is about the same in girls and boys.  However, with the onset of puberty, a girl's risk of developing depression increases dramatically to twice that of boys.  Experts believe that the increased chance of depression in women may be related to changes in hormone levels that occur throughout a woman's life. 

These changes are evident during puberty, pregnancy, and menopause as well as after giving birth, having a hysterectomy, or experiencing a miscarriage.  In addition, the hormone fluctuations that occur with each month's menstrual cycle probably contribute to premenstrual syndrome, or PMS, and premenstrual dysphoric disorder, or PMDD - a severe syndrome marked especially by depression, anxiety, cyclical mood shifts, and lethargy.

WHAT INCREASES THE CHANCES OF DEPRESSION IN WOMEN?

According to the National Institutes of Health, factors that increase the risk of depression in women include reproductive, genetic, or other biological factors; interpersonal factors; and certain psychological and personality characteristics.  In addition, women juggling work with raising kids, and women who are single parents, suffer more stress that may trigger symptoms of depression.  Other factors that could increase risk include:

  • Family history of mood disorders  
  • History of mood disorders in early reproductive years
  • Loss of a parent before the age of 10 years old
  • Loss of social support system or the threat of such a loss
  • Ongoing psychological and social stress, such as loss of a job, relationship stress, separation or divorce
  • Physical or sexual abuse as a child
  • Use of certain infertility treatments
  • Use of certain oral contraceptives

Women can also get postpartum depression after the birth of a baby.   Some people get seasonal affective disorder in the winter.  Depression is one part of bipolar disorder. 

CAN DEPRESSION IN WOMEN RUN IN FAMILIES?

Mother and daughter

Yes, depression can run in families.   When it does, it generally starts between the ages of 15 and 30.  A family link to depression is much more common in women.

HOW DOES DEPRESSION IN WOMEN DIFFER FROM DEPRESSION IN MEN?

According to WebMD, depression in women differs from depression in men in several ways:

  • Depression in women may occur earlier, last longer, be more likely to re-occur, be more likely to be associated with stressful life events, and be more sensitive to seasonal changes.
  • Women are more likely to experience guilty feelings and attempt suicide, although they actually commit suicide less often than men.
  • Depression in women is more likely to be associated with anxiety disorders, especially panic and phobic symptoms, and eating disorders.
  • Depressed women are less likely to abuse alcohol and other drugs

HOW ARE PMS AND PMDD RELATED TO DEPRESSION IN WOMEN?

Mother and daughter

As many as three out of four menstruating women experience premenstrual syndrome or PMS.  PMS is a disorder characterized by emotional and physical symptoms that fluctuate in intensity from one menstrual cycle to the next.  Women in their 20s or 30s are usually affected.

About 3% to 5% of menstruating women experience premenstrual dysphoric disorder, or PMDD.  PMDD is a severe form of PMS, marked by highly emotional and physical symptoms that usually become more severe 7 to 10 days before the onset of menstruation.  According to WebMD, in the last decade, these conditions have become recognized as important causes of discomfort and behavioral change in women.  While the precise link between PMS, PMDD and depression is still unclear, chemical changes in the brain and fluctuating hormone levels are both thought to be contributing factors.

HOW ARE PMS AND PMDD TREATED?

Many women who suffer with depression along with PMS or PMDD find improvement through exercise or meditation.  For individuals with severe symptoms, medicine, individual or group psychotherapy, or stress management may be helpful.

GET HELP

Woman on telephone

If you are experiencing feelings of depression, please call the Fulton County Department of Behavioral Health & Developmental Disabilities at (404) 613-3675.  Our Behavioral Health Access & Information Line is available Monday thru Friday from 8:30 AM to 5:00 PM.  If you need assistance after those hours, please call the Georgia Crisis & Access Line at 1-800-715-4225.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
 

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