Depression is defined as feelings of being low, with an aversion to activity that can affect a person’s behavior, feelings, thoughts and over all wellbeing. Since women are twice as likely as men to experience depression at some point in their lives, it is important to recognize depression symptoms in women.
The Mental Health America website says that as many as 12 million women in the United States experience clinical depression each year, whereas only half that amount of men (about 6 million) experience depression.
Symptoms of depression in women are seen more commonly between the ages 25 and 44.
Reasons why depression symptoms in women are more commonly seen than in men:
Factors such as PMS (premenstrual stress), a uniquely female phenomenon, can contribute to depressive symptoms.
An estimated 20 to 40% women experience some PMS to a lesser or larger extent and as many as 5% women may display symptoms of PMS severe enough to be classified as Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder (PMDD).
Another reason why depression is more commonly seen among women than men is the fact that as many as 15% women may experience post partum depression (also known as the baby blues).
Eating disorders such as anorexia and bulimia are predominantly seen among women; only an estimated 5 to 10% of cases of eating disorders are male.
A very significant relationship is seen to exist between these disorders and depression so this is another factor that puts women more at risk of major depressive disorders.
Menopause is another factor that puts women more at risk of depression than men. This is a stage in a woman’s life that signals the end of fertility and of youth which can be very difficult for women to accept.
The hormonal changes that occur in a woman’s body at this time also make her more prone to depressive symptoms.
Not only are symptoms of depression in women more likely to occur than in men, the episodes of depression are also likely to be longer lasting and more frequently occurring than in men.
Some of the most commonly seen depression symptoms in women are:
- Mood swings, irritability, feeling down in the dumps frequently can all be indicators of depression. Women may feel low self esteem and feelings of guilt, worthlessness and a sense of hopelessness about life.
- Women may also feel disinterested in the activities that they otherwise found enjoyable. They may withdraw from society and seek to be alone, even if they are otherwise sociable and gregarious individuals.
- Women may find that they have trouble concentrating and focusing.
- Some of the most disturbing signs of depression could be when thoughts of death, self harm and even suicide start to occur.
- Disturbed eating may also characterize depression. While one woman may experience weight gain as a result of overeating, or binge eating (comfort eating) others may lose their appetite and lose weight.
- Fatigue, low energy levels, trouble getting to sleep or poor sleep are also commonly seen depression symptoms in women.