5 Things To Know About Depression In Women

Life has numerous turns and twists. Women encounter many stages of growth and change, from puberty and menstruation to giving birth to menopause. All these rites of passage create emotional ups and downs. Because of these factors, women may have a greater susceptibility to depression. Indeed, depression occurs in women at approximately twice the rate of men.

Depression affects every woman differently. It brings challenges to the way you eat, sleep, work and play. Here are five things you need to know about depression in women:

1. Depression is real.

Sadness is something we all experience. It is normal to feel sad as a reaction to difficult times, but usually that sadness eases off and stops when the stress is lifted. When that sadness extends over a long period of time, when it gets in the way of proper functioning, it is considered depression.

2. Depression, according to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), is a mood disorder causing distressing symptoms that affect how you think, feel and handle daily activities.

Depression is not something you can just “snap out of ” or something you can change if you “just try harder.” Depression is neither a character flaw nor a sign of weakness. A person suffering from depression cannot just “pray” her way out of it or “pull herself up by her bootstraps.” Most people with depression need treatment to feel better.

3. Some illnesses such as thyroid problems may mimic depression.

Your doctor can determine if you are suffering from depression by doing a physical exam and taking lab tests. Depression can hurt. Actual aches and pains can accompany it. You may have headaches, cramps or digestive problems. You may have trouble sleeping or wake up feeling tired or with low energy. You may have anxiety. Other people have feelings of hopelessness, irritability and unworthiness. They may lose interest in normal pleasures or have difficulty concentrating.

4. Certain types of depression are unique to women.

These include postpartum depression, which occurs after giving birth. Women may also face premenstrual disorder, perinatal depression and perimenopausal depression.

5. Even the most severe depression can be treated.

Treatment includes psychotherapy and/or medications. Scientists at the NIMH are dedicated to women’s mental health research. They seek to improve diagnosis and treatment of depression. They may do studies, using people like you for clinical trials that provide valuable information about disease and health.