Depression in Females: Causes, Symptoms and Treatment

Depressive disorder (also known as depression) is a common mental disorder. It is a serious condition that negatively affects how a person thinks, feels, and behaves. In contrast to normal sadness, clinical depression is persistent, often interferes with a person’s ability to experience or anticipate pleasure, and significantly interferes with functioning in daily life. Untreated, symptoms can last for weeks, months, or years; and if inadequately treated, depression can lead to significant impairment, other health-related issues, and in rare cases, suicide. A person is diagnosed with a major depression when he or she experiences at least five of the symptoms listed below for two consecutive weeks.

Depression Symptoms include:

  • Being despondent most of the day
  • Markedly diminished interest or pleasure in activities most of the day
  • Changes in appetite that result in weight losses or gains unrelated to dieting
  • Changes in sleeping patterns
  • Loss of energy or increased fatigue
  • Restlessness or irritability
  • Feelings of anxiety
  • Feelings of worthlessness, helplessness, or hopelessness
  • Inappropriate guilt
  • Overthinking, Difficulty in concentrating or making decisions
  • Thoughts of death or attempts at suicide

What causes Depression?

The medical community does not fully understand the causes of depression. There are many possible causes, and sometimes, various factors combine to trigger symptoms. Factors that are likely to play a role include: genetic features, changes in the brain’s neurotransmitter levels, environmental factors such as exposure to trauma or lack of social support, psychological and social factors, additional conditions, such as bipolar disorder.

Depression In Females

Depression is nearly twice as common in females than males, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). About 20 percent of women will experience at least one episode of depression across their lifetime. Biological, life cycle, hormonal and psychosocial changes unique to women may be linked to women’s higher depression rates.

Here’s what contributes to Depression in women:

Puberty: Hormone changes during puberty may increase some girls’ risk of developing depression. However, temporary mood swings related to fluctuating hormones during puberty are normal — these changes alone don’t cause depression.

Premenstrual problems: For most females with premenstrual syndrome (PMS), symptoms such as abdominal bloating, breast tenderness, headache, anxiety, irritability and experiencing the blues are minor and short-lived.

Pregnancy: Dramatic hormonal changes occur during pregnancy, and these can affect mood. Other issues also may increase the risk of developing depression during pregnancy or during attempts to become pregnant, such as: Lifestyle or work changes or other life stressors, Relationship problems, Previous episodes of depression, postpartum depression or PMDD, Lack of social support, Unintended or unwanted pregnancy, Miscarriage, Infertility, Stopping use of antidepressant medications.

Postpartum depression: Many new mothers find themselves sad, angry and irritable, and experience crying spells soon after giving birth. These feelings — sometimes called the baby blues — are normal and generally subside within a week or two. But more-serious or long-lasting depressed feelings may indicate postpartum depression.

Perimenopause and menopause: Risk of depression may increase during the transition to menopause, a stage called perimenopause, when hormone levels may fluctuate erratically. Depression risk may also rise during early menopause or after menopause — both times when estrogen levels are significantly reduced

Life circumstances and culture: The higher rate of depression in women isn’t due to biology alone. Life circumstances and cultural stressors can play a role, too. Although these stressors also occur in men, it’s usually at a lower rate.

Other Factors that may increase the risk of depression in women include: Unequal power and status, Work overload, Sexual or physical abuse.

Recognizing depression and seeking treatment

Although depression might seem overwhelming, there’s effective treatment. Even severe depression often can be successfully treated. Consider turning to your primary care provider first — for example, your family doctor, internist, nurse practitioner, obstetrician or gynecologist. If needed, your primary care provider can refer you to a mental health professional who specializes in diagnosing and treating depression.

Remember, depression is both common and treatable. If you think you’re depressed, don’t hesitate to seek help.

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