The signs of depression in women are important to detect for a number of reasons: women are twice as likely as men to develop depression and according to some estimates, one in eight women will have some form or some extent of depression in her life.
Depression can impact physical and mental health negatively and could impact practically all areas of a woman’s life. Though the signs of depression can and do vary greatly from woman to woman, the following are the signs of depression in women that neither a woman herself nor others around her should ignore:
Emotional signs of depression in women
Sadness or the feeling of being miserable is a symptom of depression when it continues persistently over a longer period of time.
There could be feeling blue without reason, even crying jags and the feeling of being hopeless, where a woman finds that she views everything tinged with pessimism and despair.
Problems with self-esteem and self-confidence will often accompany these emotional symptoms of depression. A woman can feel worthless or unworthy of being loved at such a time.
She can feel guilty even when it’s not her fault and can find reasons to blame herself for problems not even of her own making.
Feeling out of control, where everything seems to be going out of her control is another of the signs of depression in women. A woman may feel scared of something indefinable or even specific things and occurrences, but paradoxically may also feel detached and indifferent to people and things around her.
There could be a repeated reminiscing about the past, coupled with apprehensions about the future. Activities that typically interested and gave pleasure no longer do so and a woman may start to have suicidal thoughts as well. Suicidal thoughts may be the sign of severe depression and in a sense a real cry for help!
Physical signs of depression in women
Depression can manifest in very physical palpable ways in women: there could be a sudden increase or decrease in appetite. Some women tend to lose their appetite, while others turn to food for comfort, leading to sudden weight gain or loss.
Tiredness, feelings of lethargy or listlessness, insomnia (inability to get to sleep or to remain asleep) can all accompany other depressive symptoms. Worry and anxiety may cause a woman to have difficulty falling asleep or it could wake her up in the middle of the night. On the other hand, it could be that she feels sleepy all the time.
Depression can even change a woman’s menstrual cycle and digestive disturbances. Some women also display depression symptoms such as trembling, breaking out in a cold sweat, irregular breathing and heartbeats.
Behavioral signs of depression in women
A depressed woman’s behavior could show marked changes: a gregarious and sociable woman may become reclusive and withdrawn, choosing to shun people. She may seem irritable, may cry without reason. People and things that she enjoyed earlier could become stale and uninteresting. Losing interest in sex is also a common depression symptom.
Memory lapses, not being able to solve common problems, and being indecisive could be other changes that others note in a woman who may be depressed.
How signs of depression in women differ from those in men
Depression symptoms can be markedly different in men and women. Whereas men typically display aggression, women display nervousness, anxiety and apprehension. Whereas women may withdraw and avoid conflict, men tend to create conflict.
Whereas women tend to blame themselves for problems, men tend to externalize them and seek other things and people to blame for their problems. Women may feel out of control whereas men may try everything to wrest back that control. Women may turn to food and friends for solace and try to seek love wherever they can, men will use alcohol, sex or sports as crutches in these times.
Risk factors for depression in women
Typically women who try to cope with too much, or single moms may be more prone to depression. The loss of a social support system tends to put women more at risk of depression.
Women who have a family or personal history of mood disorders are more prone to depression. Loss of a parent before age 10 is also thought to be a risk factor. A history of physical or sexual abuse also increases risk.
Signs of depression in women may become more visible at certain times of a woman’s life, such as pregnancy and menopause.