Depression is overwhelming because of the lack of control a person has over their own feelings. Often a depressed person does not have a specific reason for being sad and hopeless, they just feel bad for no apparent reason, and the symptoms are so much worse than simply feeling bad.
Depression symptoms are not always clear cut, and they can be very different between men and women. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, women are 70% more likely to have depression in their lifetime than men.
Depression Symptoms In Women
The key symptom in depression for both men and women is persistence. Unlike the blues, or occasional bad moods, depression takes hold and will not take its talons out no matter how hard the victim tries to shake their blues. So a persistent sad, empty feeling that lasts more than a few weeks is likely depression.
Additional Depression Symptoms in Women include:
- Sleeplessness or sleeping too much
- Anxiety and Irritability
- Low self esteem, guilt, pessimism
- Loss of hope
- Suicidal thoughts or plans
- Weight gain or loss and appetite changes
- Loss of interest in things that once were interesting
- Lack of energy, feeling of tiredness regardless of sleep
- Scattered thoughts and ADD symptoms
Depression can also manifest in physical ways as well. Perhaps as a recurring headache, backache or bowel problems. These physical symptoms, as well as other depression symptoms may be connected.
It is important to realize that a person can be depressed and not have even half the symptoms listed. Depression is a very personal condition that is different for every woman.
Common Causes of Depression in Women
The common causes of depression in women are often different than the causes of depression in men. Early cases of depression are equal in both genders. It is after puberty that the drastic rise in depression in women occurs. This indicates strongly that many cases of depression in women are caused by hormonal changes associated with the reproductive system.
Another factor associated with increased depression in women is genetics. If there is a family history of depression, then the likely cause of the depression is 50% genetic and 50% triggered by other sources. If there are a lot of cases of depression in a family tree, it does not automatically mean a person will become depressed at some point. It does mean that there is a higher chance of depression occurring, and more so with women if they are triggered by high stress, PMS, or baby blues.
Vitamin depletion is associated with depression in women more than men. Magnesium is a key vitamin that is lost during childbirth, and menstruation, yet is not regained enough in the modern diet. The B vitamin family are also low in many depressed woman these are easy to find over the counter.
Triggers such as reliving a painful event, pregnancy hormone fluctuations, menstruation, menopause, lack of enough sunshine during cold months, the loss of a loved one, stress, or losing a job can cause long term depression in people who are susceptible.
In addition to the physical causes of depression, women who are oriented towards pessimism are much more likely to eventually succumb to depression. This pessimism likely causes other parts of the persons life to be less than successful as well. Optimistic thinking can go a long way toward keeping depression away, but it is hard to just start doing if a person has developed a pessimistic mindset. The good news is, learning to think positively can drastically reduce chances of recurring depression.
Treatment Options For Depression In Women
Treating depression is not as simple as taking an anti-depressant, there is much more to a successful depression treatment program than medication. An approach that addresses the mind, body, and spirit is much more likely to work initially and in the long run than simply handing out prescriptions and telling the patient to give it time.
Depression does not just effect a woman’s mood, and there is not one simple cause, so addressing the situation on every level is the key to a successful recovery. An individualized approach without a heavy reliance on medication is key for true recovery. Women need certain issues addressed when treating depression that men do not need. For example if the cause of the depression lies in the menstruation cycle, menopause, or giving birth, then the treatment may be addressing the hormonal fluctuations during these times.
Medication to increase serotonin is an obvious go to for depression treatment. This is effective, but it should be noted that women often experience side effects of anti-depressant medications more than men, and women of childbearing age should take precautions not to become pregnant while on the medicine.
Psychotherapy to dig to the cause of the pessimistic thinking in the first place is common and very effective. Counseling and group therapy with other women who have experienced the same thing, and on going communication are all effective depression treatments for women. Sometimes knowing they are not alone can help put things into perspective and improve self esteem.
Tips For Recovery For Women With Depression
- Get help that addresses all of the aspects of depression
- Let go of the past, daily dwelling on past hurt and failure makes recovery more difficult. Seek help to finally let go of past pain that can drag a person down.
- A new study indicates bibliotherapy as a real help for depression.
- In addition to the prescribed medications talk to your doctor about a vitamin regime for depression. Continue to take supplements even if you are no longer depressed so there is not a future shortage.
- Exercise daily, it does not have to be an elaborate workout just get your blood flowing with a half hour walk if you are not ready for anything else.
- Be hopeful. A positive outlook will help recovery, learn the power of positive thinking.
- Follow the doctor’s orders, even after improvement.