why women are prone to depression

April 29, 2019

Understanding depression

True depression is much more tenacious than the normal grieving process you might expect after the death of a loved one, loss of a beloved pet, or other life crises. It tends to sink its hooks deep into your daily routine and, without treatment, can hang around for weeks to months to years.

The good news is we have very effective ways of treating your depression that can help you overcome its hold on your future. It’s never too early or too late to seek help when you believe depression is affecting your life.

Symptoms of depression may include:

  • Persistent feelings of sadness, guilt, or hopelessness
  • Lack of interest in activities you once enjoyed
  • Trouble falling or staying asleep, or sleeping too much
  • Fatigue, pain, and other physical symptoms that have no apparent cause
  • Difficulty concentrating and remembering important appointments or simple chores such as paying the electric bill
  • Appetite changes that may lead to significant weight loss or gain

Science isn’t exactly sure why the gap exists between men and women and depression, but we can identify several factors that seem to influence that difference. Every individual is unique, and we certainly don’t mean to imply all women are the same, but physiological, psychological, and cultural issues may propel more women than men into depression.

Women tend to share their feelings

Compared to men, women are about twice as likely to receive a diagnosis of depression than men. They’re also more likely to seek professional or medical help for their ailments and are often more open about their feelings than men. So, while the data seems to indicate women are more prone to depression, it’s possible your willingness to share your feelings has an impact on the results.

Women often respond differently to stress than men

You may find yourself thinking deeply about cause and effect during a challenging time in your life. This can be very positive if you discover behavior you can change that might create a better outcome next time.

It’s not helpful, however, if you simply blame yourself for things you cannot change, such as how someone else feels or whether February has too many cloudy days. In this case, your feelings of hopelessness or lack of control over the future may lead to depression and/or anxiety, which is often linked to depression.

Therapy, combined with medication if necessary, can help you understand how your thought processes may be shaping your reaction to stressful situations.

Sometimes, you really can blame your hormones

From puberty until menopause, women experience hormonal fluctuations on a regular basis that can lead to mood swings which may have you switching from irritability to weeping in the span of moments. Most often, these monthly “issues” are short-lived and recognizable as the lead-up to your normal menstrual period.

For some women, however, premenstrual “blues” can affect your job, relationships, and other important areas of life. This may signal premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD), which is a type of depression that generally requires treatment.

The time leading up to menopause is called the perimenopausal phase. This is when hot flashes, night sweats, and other physiological responses to declining estrogen levels can disrupt your sleep which, beyond making you feel tired and grumpy, can lead to depression. Menopause also may bring about unexpected weight gain and cause skin, hair, and other physical changes that force you to confront the aging process head-on.

Postpartum depression is another serious medical condition that doctors attribute to major hormonal fluctuations experienced after the birth of a child. This alone has dramatic influences on your mood. The responsibility of caring for a newborn, sleep deprivation, and feelings of inadequacy regarding your role as a mom may also play a significant role in postpartum depression.

About 10-15% of women experience postpartum depression, which requires immediate medical treatment but typically resolves as your hormones find their pre-pregnancy balance and you settle more comfortably into motherhood.

There just aren’t enough hours in the day

A full-time job, household responsibilities, and social obligations can often squeeze every second from the day, leaving you little time to pursue hobbies you enjoy or other activities like exercise that can relieve your stress and renew your energy.

Single moms are especially susceptible to the emotional and physical drain of parenting that may lead to depression. However, even when you have a supportive adult lending a hand in your household, you may sometimes forget that you don’t actually have those super powers your toddler or boss thinks you do. We can help you make changes that give you time to breathe and enjoy the results of your labor.

If you’re struggling with depression, Advanced Psychiatry Associates has answers. Call our office today to make an appointment or book your visit online.