Women get depressed! Depression is not sadness. Being sad is a normal reaction to difficult times in life but sadness goes away with a little time. Depression is different from sadness. Depression is a mood disorder that may cause severe symptoms that can affect how you feel, think, and handle daily activities such as sleeping, eating, or working.
Depression is more common among women than men, likely due to certain biological, hormonal, and social factors that are unique to women. This article contains an overview of four things that everyone should know about depression in women.
Depression, also known as major depressive disorder, is a common mental health disorder. Depression is real and is a serious mood disorder. Depression symptoms can interfere with your ability to work, sleep, study, eat, and enjoy your life. Researchers do not know the exact cause of depression, but they suggest that it may be caused by a combination of genetic, biological, environmental, and psychological factors. Most people with depression need mental health treatment to feel better.
Fact: You can’t just “snap out of it” or “get over it”.
You cannot just snap out of depression. Depression is a mental health disorder that needs to be treated by skilled professionals including mental health counselors. Friends and family may think they are being sincere when they try to talk you out of being depressed but that makes individuals with depression feel worse.
If you have a friend or family member who is feeling depressed or is showing symptoms of depression then offer them emotional support, encouragement, patience, and help. Acknowledge how they are feeling and encourage them to talk about how they feel. Encourage your loved one to seek professional mental health treatment.
People with depression need treatment to feel better. Start by making a phone call to your primary care doctor or mental health professional such as a psychiatrist or mental health counselor. Contact a health provider who specializes in diagnosing and treating mental health conditions. Your primary care doctor will give you a physical assessment to rule out any physical conditions for the depression and to discuss treatment options for depression.
Fact: There Are Physical Signs of Depression
There are many physical signs of depression. People experience depression in many ways and not all people with depression show signs of sadness. People with depression experience many physical symptoms, such as aches or pains, headaches, cramps, or digestive problems. Someone with depression also may have trouble with sleeping, waking up in the morning, and feeling tired.
If you have been experiencing any of the following signs and symptoms for at least two weeks, you may be suffering from depression:
- Persistent sad, anxious, or “empty” mood
- Feelings of hopelessness or pessimism
- Feelings of guilt, worthlessness, or helplessness
- Decreased energy or fatigue
- Difficulty sleeping, early morning awakening, or oversleeping
- Loss of interest or pleasure in hobbies and activities
- Moving or talking more slowly
- Feeling restless or having trouble sitting still
- Difficulty concentrating, remembering, or making decisions
- Changes in appetite or weight
- Thoughts of death or suicide, or suicide attempts
- Aches or pains, headaches, cramps, or digestive problems without a clear physical cause that do not ease even with treatment
Not every woman who is depressed experiences every symptom. Some women experience only a few symptoms. Others have many. The severity and frequency of symptoms, and how long they last, will vary depending on the individual and the severity of the illness.
When talking with your doctor, be honest about the symptoms you are experiencing. Your health care provider may ask when your symptoms started, what time of day they happen, how long they last, how often they occur, if they seem to be getting worse or better, and if they keep you from going out or doing your usual activities. It may help to take the time to make some notes about your symptoms before you visit your provider.
Fact: Women Have Specific Types of Depression
Hormonal changes in women cause specific types of depression that include postpartum depression, premenstrual syndrome (PMS), perinatal depression, and perimenopausal depression. These forms of depression can occur at different stages of a woman’s life.
Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder (PMDD) and Premenstrual Syndrome, or PMS
Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder (PMDD) and premenstrual syndrome, or PMS, is characterized by signs of depression before menstruation. PMS is common and the depressive symptoms are mostly mild. However, premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD), is a serious condition with disabling symptoms such as irritability, anger, depressed mood, sadness, suicidal thoughts, appetite changes, bloating, breast tenderness, and joint or muscle pain.
Perinatal Depression and Postpartum Depression
Perinatal depression or postpartum depression is common after the birth of a baby. Many new moms experience the “baby blues”. This is a term used to describe mild mood changes and feelings of worry, unhappiness, and exhaustion that many women sometimes experience in the first two weeks after having a baby. These feelings usually last for around a month and then go away as a new mom adjusts to having a newborn. However, perinatal depression is a mood disorder that can affect women during pregnancy and after childbirth and is much more serious than the “baby blues.”
The word “perinatal” refers to the time before and after the birth of a child. Perinatal depression includes depression that begins during pregnancy (called prenatal depression) and depression that begins after the baby is born (called postpartum depression). Mothers with perinatal depression or postpartum depression experience feelings of extreme sadness, anxiety, and fatigue that may make it difficult for them to carry out daily tasks, including caring for themselves, their new child, or others.
Postpartum depression must be taken seriously. The health and wellbeing of the mother and baby are affected by this type of depression. If you think you have perinatal depression, you should talk to your health care provider or trained mental health care professional. If you see any signs of depression in a loved one during her pregnancy or after the child is born, encourage her to see a health care provider or visit a clinic immediately.
Perimenopausal Depression in Women
Perimenopause is the transition into menopause and is a normal phase in a woman’s life that can sometimes be challenging. If you are going through perimenopause, you might be experiencing abnormal periods, problems sleeping, mood swings, and hot flashes. Although these symptoms are common, feeling depressed is not. If you are struggling with irritability, anxiety, sadness, or loss of enjoyment at the time of the menopause transition, you may be experiencing perimenopausal depression.
Therapy For Depression
Depression affects each woman differently and there is no need to suffer with depression symptoms. Depression can be treated with depression medication called antidepressants, and psychotherapy (talk therapy or counseling) or a combination of both. Antidepressants are medications commonly used to treat depression. People respond differently to antidepressants, and you may need to try different medicines to find the one that works best.
Seek a mental health counselor that specializes in women’s issues and depression. Mental health counseling is highly effective in the treatment of depression. There are many different types of psychotherapy, such as cognitive behavioral therapy or interpersonal therapy. The approach a therapist uses depends on the condition being treated and the training and experience of the therapist. Therapists also may combine and adapt elements of different approaches. Mental health counseling is highly effective. So, contact an expert professional counselor at www.sobair.com
Please note that depression affects everyone differently. There is no “one-size-fits-all” for treatment. It may take some trial and error to find the treatment that works best. Do not give up and keep going. If you haven’t found the treatment option that works best for you, keep going. There are many options available so, please be patient and continue to get treatment for depression. Do this because you matter.