Women And Depression

Women And Depression: 5 Major Types, Symptoms, Causes, and Treatment

Writen By: Sadia Mirza
Reviewed By: Huma Khan
Publish Date: November 25, 2023

In a world where women are often appreciated for their resilience, strength, and multi-tasking, we often overlook the silent battles they may be fighting within themselves. Women and depression have always been the most talked-about topic, as research indicates that women are twice as likely to experience depression compared with men.

Women being more prone to depression raises questions about the challenges that women face and the factors surrounding them that contribute to their depression. Mental health should always be a great concern and dealt with properly, just as when we are sick, we get proper treatment. Similarly, when we have depression or any mental health issues, we should follow the same pattern and seek medication and therapy for them.

Stick around with us because, in this blog post, we are going to mention the different signs of depression in women and their treatment approaches. We will shed light on the complicated connection between depression and women. Also, we will uncover different types of depression, their causes, and the impact it has on their lives because the more we know about something, the more we will be able to tackle it. 

What is Depression?

Depression is a mental health disorder that negatively affects how you feel, the way you think, and how you act. It can lead to a variety of physical and emotional problems. Depression is different from sadness, as sadness goes away with a little time and is a normal reaction that shows up in difficult and hard times but depression is a mood disorder and is persistent. It is a longer-term mental illness. It makes you feel worthless and affects your mood, the way you think about yourself, and the things around you.

It is characterized by constant feelings of hopelessness, sadness, and a loss of interest and pleasure in activities that were enjoyed before. 

Women And Depression

Depression among women has always been a topic of discussion. We know women are more likely to be depressed than men due to gender differences and inequality, life transitions they go through, such as pregnancy and menopause, hormonal changes, societal and cultural pressures they face, and many other factors that become the reason for their depression.

According to research, the prevalence rate of depression in women is 21%, while for men it is 12%, which shows the rate of depression is twice as high for women than men. It also discusses that the women’s depression rate begins to rise in females at the age of 13 years as their teenage years start, and it continues throughout life.

Another study from the NIH shows that  3% to 9% of teenagers experience depression at any time. It also indicates that by the end of adolescence, 20% of teenagers have experienced depression at some point in their lives.

Given that women experience depression at a higher rate than men do throughout their lives and that there is a correlation between women and depression, this suggests that the difficulties women encounter in life serve as a major contributing factor to women’s depression.

Types of Depression in Women

Women go through many phases of depression in their lives. Each type of depression is different from another and demands proper treatment and care for the person encountering it. We are going to show you different types of depression so when you or someone you know is going through depression, you will be easily able to understand the reason behind it.

1. Major Depressive Disorder

Major depressive disorder is also known as ‘Clinical Depression’ or “Unipolar Depression”. It is diagnosed when an individual has persistently depressed or low mood, feelings of guilt about being unworthy, lack of energy, changes in appetite, poor concentration and inability to focus, sleep disturbances, loss of interest in pleasurable activities, and suicidal thoughts. 

The study finds that major depressive disorder is a very common psychiatric condition, with a prevalence rate that is nearly twice as high in women. It is common because of hormonal fluctuations that cause major depressive disorder in women, especially during puberty, before menstruation, during perimenopause, and after pregnancy. 

According to research, major depressive disorder can last from 6 to 12 months. It can affect your daily life and all aspects of it, impacting your relationships with everyone and also creating problems in your work life.

2. Persistent depressive disorder (PDD)

Persistent depressive disorder is also known as dysthymia or high-functioning depression. It is a mental health condition that is indicated by chronic low-grade depression but as the name suggests, it lasts longer. 

According to DSM5, this depression can last for 2 or more years.

It is caused by different genetic, biological, and environmental factors. Its symptoms are the same as those of major depression but the key to diagnosing this depression is the long duration, not the intensity of the symptoms.

3. Premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD)

Premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD) is a severe form of Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS). Its symptoms appear two weeks before a woman’s period begins. Its symptoms include bloating, headaches, breast tenderness, anxiety, mood swings, anger, and other symptoms similar to those of major depression. The symptoms go away within a few days after the period starts. It’s cyclical in nature, as it is experienced by women every month prior to or during their flow days.

4. Postpartum depression  (PPD)

PPD, also known as ‘perinatal depression’, is a type of depression that affects women after childbirth. It is more severe than ‘baby blues’ which is a common experience including crying spells, mood swings, anxiety, and difficulty sleeping, and it lasts for a few days after giving birth. 

According to a research study, PPD is identified when at least five symptoms of depression are present for a minimum of two weeks. The study also found that PPD is not mentioned as a separate disease in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. Instead, it is considered to be a major depressive episode with peripartum onset.

On the other hand, PPD can last for weeks or even months if left untreated. It is a more severe, long-lasting form of depression. Its symptoms include almost all the symptoms of depression and difficulty bonding with your baby. It needs immediate attention to recover.

Research by NIH shows that around one in seven women can develop PPD, and it severely affects women’s ability to return to normal function and tends to last longer than baby blues.

5. Seasonal affective disorder (SAD)

Seasonal affective disorder is also known as ‘Winter Depression’. It comes and goes with the seasons. SAD typically starts in late fall, continues through the winter months, and becomes more severe. It is thought to be caused by a lack of sunlight, which disrupts the body’s natural production of melatonin, a hormone that regulates sleep.

Research suggests that women are more likely to be affected by SAD than men. Its symptoms are similar to those of major depression and they are strongest during the winter months in women. It can be treated with psychotherapy and light therapy.

Symptoms Of Depression In Women

Depression can affect everyone, regardless of gender, age, or background. It can cause a variety of symptoms, including emotional, physical, and behavioral changes. We are going to further study women and depression symptoms.

Emotional Symptoms

The emotional symptoms of depression can vary from person to person. Some of the most common symptoms include the following:

  • persistent low mood,
  • hopelessness, 
  • difficulty making decisions,
  • feeling guilty and tearful, 
  • decreased self-esteem and feeling worthless, 
  • angry outbursts, 
  • Feeling worthless and excessively criticizing oneself.
  • Restlessness or feeling agitated or easily annoyed

Behavioral Symptoms

Behavioral symptoms can manifest in the form of 

  • social withdrawal, 
  • using alcohol or drugs
  • loss of interest in activities, 
  • decreased productivity and focusing ability, 
  • increased irritability, 
  • adopting unhealthy eating habits 
  • neglecting personal self-care,
  • Self harming or suicidal behavior

Physical Symptoms

Physical symptoms of depression include:

  • digestive problems, 
  • headaches, 
  • changes in appetite, such as losing or gaining weight
  • back pain, 
  • low sex drive, 
  • unexplained aches and pain, 
  • fatigue; 
  • sleep problems

Additional Symptoms Relevant To Women

Symptoms of depression that are only related to women are:

  • cramps, 
  • breast tenderness, 
  • bloating

Women vs Men Depression

depression in women vs men

Causes Of Depression In Women

A variety of factors can combine to cause depression, making it a complex condition. The following are the major contributing factors that lead to depression in women. 

1. Hormonal Fluctuations

Throughout their lives, women are more likely to experience hormonal imbalances such as menstruation, menopause, pregnancy, and postpartum. These hormonal changes affect the mood and increase the risk of depression among women.

2. Sociocultural Factors

Women are often expected to take more responsibility for the emotional well-being of others. They face unique societal pressures such as gender inequality and discrimination and these factors can lead to stress and anxiety, causing depression.

3. Trauma

Women are more prone to experience trauma such as domestic violence and sexual abuse or assault and it can have a profound effect on their mental health leading to depression.

4. Work Overload

Some women often work outside the home and still handle their home responsibilities. Many women, as single parents working multiple jobs and caring for their children, can be prone to depression due to overloaded responsibilities and burnout.

5. Standards of Society

Some women who don’t feel up to the mark according to societal standards of beauty, feeling fat and unpretty, are more prone to depression when they are unable to meet society’s standards.

Risk Factors For Depression In Women

Many risk factors can increase a woman’s risk of developing depression. Some of these factors include:

  • Hormonal changes that women face during certain times of their lives, such as puberty, pregnancy, menopause, and postpartum, can affect them and cause depression.
  • Having procedures such as a post-hysterectomy
  • Older age.
  • Past trauma or abuse.
  • History of depression.
  • Genetic predisposition
  • Social, personal, and environmental factors such as divorce, poverty, unemployment, death of a loved one, and single parenting
  • Stress.
  • Substance abuse, such as alcohol or drug use
  • Lack of social support
  • Having trouble becoming pregnant. 
  • being a mother of multiples, such as triplets or twins.
  • being a teenage mother.
  • Preterm labor and delivery (before 37 weeks).
  • problems during pregnancy and childbirth.

Impact of Depression on Women

Depression can have a great impact on women’s lives. It can influence their physical and emotional well-being, their work and daily lives, and also their relationships. 

Physical Impact

The physical impact of women’s depression includes fatigue, digestive problems, headaches, and body aches and pains. All of these physical impacts on women make it difficult for them to function daily and do routine work.

According to research, depression can lead to memory disruption and loss. Additionally, a study from the NIH indicates that chronic physical health conditions such as obesity, heart disease, and diabetes have been associated with a higher risk of depression, and it also shows that women at high risk of depression will be more likely to report chronic illness than women with a lower risk of depression.

Emotional Impact

Due to women’s heightened emotional sensitivity, depression can have a significant negative impact on their mental well-being. It can cause them to feel worthless, anxious, hopeless, sad, guilty, irritable, and sometimes angry. All of these emotional feelings lead to social withdrawal and isolation. 

Depression in women may increase the risk of developing other mood disorders, including anxiety disorders, bipolar disorder, persistent depressive disorder, and premenstrual dysphoric disorder.

Impact on Relationships

Depression can have a great impact on a woman’s relationships, as they may have difficulty connecting with their partners. It can manifest in the form of a lack of physical intimacy. Depression makes it difficult for a woman to engage in activities that she enjoyed before with her partner. This can lead to feelings of growing apart and can also result in breaking up later on.  In addition, depression may have an impact on her ability to form a bond with her newborn and her attachment to her kids.

It also affects relationships with friends. Depression makes it difficult for a woman to be socially active so she becomes less available for her friends and it becomes difficult for her to maintain friendships.

Impact on Work

Concentration difficulties, decreased productivity, absenteeism, and reduced motivation can affect performance in professional or academic settings. It might lead to difficulties in making decisions or meeting responsibilities. Thus, depression makes it hard for a woman to perform well at work.

Treatment For Depression In Women

Depression is curable if you take proper treatment for it. There are many treatment options available for depression, such as:

1. Medication

Antidepressants are medications that are commonly used to treat depression. Some antidepressants that are commonly prescribed to cope with depression are fluoxetine, paroxetine, sertraline, escitalopram, duloxetine, and venlafaxine. However, keep in mind that you should never self-medicate and that you should always see your doctor before taking any medication because they will prescribe the right medication for your needs.  

2. Therapy

Depression can be treated with ‘psychotherapy’ also called ‘Talk therapy’.

Cognitive behavioral therapy(CBT) which is the type of psychotherapy can help in the treatment of depression. This type of therapy focuses on new ways of thinking and coping mechanisms when feelings of depression hit you. It can help women improve their relationships and daily lives.

Interpersonal psychotherapy (IPT) focuses on improving relationships to reduce depression. IPT therapists help patients develop more effective ways of communicating and interacting with others.

Dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) helps in treating depression as it teaches skills to manage emotions and tolerate distress. 

Mindfulness-based therapies focus on being more mindful of your thoughts, feelings, and bodily sensations. It helps reduce stress and improve mood.

Supportive therapy gives people a safe and supportive space to talk about their experiences and feelings. It focuses on giving the patient empathy, encouragement, and understanding. It can be helpful for people who are newly diagnosed with depression.

Therapy Resources

  • Better Help is the website that can give you the type of therapy you are looking for. It provides individual therapy and couple therapy and if you want therapy for your child, they also provide that. 
  • Talk Space is an online therapy platform that provides you with a licensed therapist to improve your mental health. You should go for it if you are looking for the best therapist.

3. Lifestyle Changes

Women should also consider changing their lifestyle to cope with depression. Staying engaged in social activities, exercising daily, getting enough sleep (8 hours per night), journaling your thoughts, meditating, doing yoga, and practicing other relaxation techniques can help in treating depression.

4. Reaching Out For Support

Reach out to people with whom you feel safe and cared for. You don’t feel judged when you share your most vulnerable thoughts. They are good listeners and listen to you attentively and without judging. The best option is to join support groups that are available online as well.

5. Support groups

There are many support groups available online that are easy to access and can help you treat depression. Talking to people who are going through similar experiences can help you overcome depression. The websites given below provide you with the support groups you are seeking in terms of depression.

6. Keep Yourself Busy

An idle mind is the devil’s workshop so try to keep yourself busy by caring for a pet and doing things you enjoy. Pick up a hobby you love, like painting, sketching, writing, or reading. Go out with friends. Have a cup of coffee and spend some time in nature. Listening to the chirping sounds of birds early in the morning will help reduce depression. Inhale happiness and exhale depression with every breath.

7. Mood Boosters

Think of your hobbies and make a list of things that instantly boost your mood. As soon as you feel depressed, try to switch to those ideas, such as spending some time in nature, gardening, reading a good book, taking a hot bath, and talking to friends and family. You can come up with your own ideas.

8. Self-Care Tips

Here are some quick and effective tips for coping with depression in women:

  • Practice positive self-talk or positive affirmations.
  • Write down your thoughts in a journal.
  • Practice mindful walking.
  • Listen to relaxing meditation music
  • Try aromatherapy and a warm bath.
  • Walking with bare feet on grass.
  • Practice yoga.
  • Get enough sleep.
  • Share your feelings or thoughts with a loved one.
  • Write down all the good things that occur in your life on a daily basis as a way to practice gratitude.

Self-Help Books

There are many self-help books available that can help you navigate through the topic of women and depression.

1. Recovering From Depression

Recovering from Depression is a book by Maggie Kelly. It can help you in your journey with depression.  It serves as a manual for getting rid of self-defeating habits and picking up constructive coping skills.

2. Undoing Depression

Undoing depression by Richard O’ Connor teaches us how to replace depressive patterns with a new and more effective set of skills.

3. Depression Relief Journal: Creative Prompts & Mindfulness Practices to Release Negative Emotions

It is a journal by Maggie C. Vaughan. This journal helps you understand depression. You can discover a wide variety of creative prompts and short and mindful exercises are also provided in this journal that can help you disrupt negative thought patterns.

Conclusion

In this blog post, we discussed women and depression in detail. We came to know that women are more likely to experience depression due to overloaded responsibilities, domestic violence, hormonal fluctuations, and societal pressure they face, but also we realized that depression is not a sign of weakness or a character flaw; rather it is a medical condition that requires treatment and support. 

The battle against depression requires collective efforts from people, communities, and organizations. By working together we will be able to break the stigma that surrounds mental health and depression.

Remember, you are not alone in your struggle with depression. If you feel like you are depressed then you should not wait and immediately seek help and support and work towards a future where depression is no longer a barrier in your life to move forward.

FAQs

1. What age is depression most common in women?

Research indicates that women between the ages of 14 and 25 frequently experience depression. 

2. How did women survive the Depression?

Women in the past used to survive depression by going outside their homes, doing jobs, sewing their clothes, managing homes, and working tirelessly through depression.

3. What is one fact about depression in women?

The one fact about depression in women is that women are twice as likely to be diagnosed with depression as men.

4. What is linked to depression in females?

Pregnancy, postpartum, puberty, and menopause are linked to depression in women. as they go through these life events, they experience depression.