The World Health Organization lists several gender-specific risk factors for depression that affect far more women than men worldwide, including:
In the United States, additional factors may come into play. For example, hormone changes associated with puberty, menstruation, and pregnancy may increase the risk of depression in women. Clinical depression, sometimes called major depression, is a medical condition that lasts two weeks or longer and is associated with feelings of helplessness and hopelessness.
At Carolina Wellness Psychiatry, PLLC, our compassionate medical team is experienced in treating all forms of depression in women. Read on to learn more about some of the most common culprits and best treatment options.
Approximately 20-40% of women experience PMS. Many symptoms — over 150 — are associated with PMS, and one of them is PMS-related depression. If you are experiencing depression about two weeks prior to menstruation, you likely have PMS-related depression, which is not the same as clinical depression.
A small percentage — about 3-5% — of women who have PMS experience a more severe form of depression called premenstrual dysphoric disorder. If you have PMDD, you likely require treatment for depression because it can be difficult or even impossible to take care of your normal, day-to-day activities.
Pregnancy includes some dramatic hormonal shifts in your body, and those shifts can lead to depression. In addition, some external factors may increase the risk of depression during pregnancy. For example, if you regularly take antidepressant medication and stop during pregnancy, you’re more like to experience depression. Others risk factors include:
Both puberty and menopause are times of extreme hormonal change, which can lead to questioning your identity, conflicts within your relationships with loved ones, and other life changes. If you are at either end of the childbearing spectrum and you’re experiencing symptoms of depression, you should talk to one of our psychiatrists because effective treatments are available and may help you.
Women are generally under more stress than men for a multitude of reasons. Women perform more emotional labor than men. Many women do more housework than men, whether they work outside the home or not. Additionally, the bulk of a family’s childcare or eldercare needs are met by women.
Besides causes of stress within their families and relationships, women experience much more societal pressure regarding appearance than men. Workplace stress, including sexism, is another problem for many women.
One reason that more women are diagnosed with depression than men are could be because women are simply more likely to seek treatment and, therefore, be diagnosed. Additionally, there may be a bias among physicians making them more likely to diagnose depression in women.
Recent genetic research has shown that on a molecular level, the brains of depressed women behave differently than the brains of depressed men. Although common, depression is still not completely understood, but it is treatable. At Carolina Wellness Psychiatry, PLLC, we truly care about our patients and their mental health. If you are experiencing symptoms of depression, book an appointment today; there may be treatment options that you haven’t considered.