Women are a bit different from men, both physically and mentally. In this world of gender disparity, women have to work twice as hard as men to find their place.
Women are said to be a lot stronger when it comes to mental health. Yet they are hugely affected by depression, more than their male counterparts.
Depression is a mental condition where we feel sad, irritable, empty and bleak. Psychologists often characterise it by loss of energy, change in appetite, disinterest in socialising, difficulty concentrating on a task, etc. These feelings can affect daily activities and decrease the quality of life. If experienced for a long time, depression may lead to suicidal thoughts as well.
Studies in 2019 have proven that women are more prone to depression than men. It showed that the percentage of males suffering from depression worldwide was 2.87%, while the rate for women was 4.29%.
Research shows that 1 in 4 women worldwide has suffered from depression at some point in their lives.
These statistics on depression in women are quite concerning as it shows that women are twice more prone to depression than their male counterparts.
Depression happens due to several reasons, both physical as well as mental. Let us understand a few reasons for depression in women.
Why are women at higher risk of having depression?
Many contributing factors make women more prone to depression than men. Some of them are-
1. Hormonal changes-
Hormonal changes are one of the significant causes of depression. Since women suffer from more hormonal changes throughout their lives than men, they become more prone to depression. Women suffer from hormonal fluctuations during puberty, pregnancy and menopause. Many new mothers also suffer from postpartum depression, commonly called the “Baby Blues”.
2. Family history-
Though anyone with a family history is prone to developing depression in their life, there are some genetic mutations of family depression that affect only women.
3. Chronic stress-
Women have more responsibilities than men as they have to juggle between their personal and professional lives. For women who choose to stay at home, factors such as P.M.S., life circumstances, responsibilities of young children/elders, or even physical/emotional partners can lead to depression.
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What are the other health problems women with a high risk of having depression are prone to?
Depression affects everyone differently. It is a mental condition where people withdraw from social activities and are disinterested in life. Women suffering from depression for a long time can cause various changes in their physical and mental health.
Due to appetite changes, women may want to eat excessively or not eat, leading to weight fluctuations. These sudden changes in the body can give rise to another set of health problems.
Loss of sleep-
Depressed women have difficulty sleeping due to anxiety or troubling thoughts. It leaves them lethargic physically and mentally.
Certain inflammatory conditions can lead to an increase in autoimmune diseases such as irritable bowel syndrome and Type 2 diabetes. It is due to chronic stress caused by depression.
Loss of sexual libido-
Women who suffer from depression have difficulty getting aroused, which can directly affect their married life. Physical abuse can also be the cause of it.
Women with depression suffer from digestive problems like diarrhoea, vomiting, nausea or constipation. Stress decreases the activity of the adrenal glands, pituitary glands and hypothalamus, resulting in these digestive issues.
Depressed women may find it challenging to maintain a healthy lifestyle. A sedentary lifestyle and eating disorders may increase their risk of certain health conditions.
What are the symptoms of high risk of depression in Women?
Women with depression may show the following symptoms-
- A sad and anxious mood
- Having trouble concentrating on regular tasks, leaving tasks incomplete
- Loss/excess of sleep
- Uncontrollable emotions that can lead to excessive crying
- Suicidal tendencies
- Eating in excess or starving
- Constant feeling of fatigue
- Feeling emotionally drained and unmotivated to carry out daily tasks
- Persistent health problems such as digestive issues, headaches, body pain
- Loss of interest in activities that they previously enjoyed
- Withdrawing from the world, loss of interest in socialising
How to deal with the high risk of having depression in women?
Most women fail to recognise the symptoms of depression and cite it as “a part of life”. However, depression in women is a mental condition that needs immediate attention.
Here are some ways to deal with depression:
Depression is mainly a mental condition. Therefore the first line of treatment should involve medications that improve mental health.
Antidepressants are non-habit-forming medications that doctors prescribe to women with depression. These medicines work by modifying the brain chemistry and increasing happy thoughts and positivity. These usually notice a change in the symptoms of depression in women, who suffer from it mainly due to hormonal changes.
Psychotherapy or cognitive behaviour therapy is another essential method to deal with depression in women. It aims at problem-solving. Women with depression can talk to psychotherapists, who will understand the actual cause behind their depression. They guide them toward solving these problems and managing their depression.
Doctors usually prescribe psychotherapy with antidepressants to manage mild to severe depression.
Women are often the primary carers of children of elders in the family. Often, they fail to recognise the signs due to societal pressure or family responsibilities.
Therefore it is essential as a family to help them. If you notice a woman in your family or your friend circle showcasing any signs of depression, help them get the necessary treatment and support. Most women only require a helping hand of a loved one to get out of their depression and emerge stronger.