Depression has been called the most significant mental health risk for women, especially younger women of childbearing and childrearing age, according to the American Psychology Association. Roughly one in five women develop depression at some point in their life. Women are nearly twice as likely as men to have depression, with onset most common between ages 40 and 59.

What is Depression?
Feeling sad or depressed is a normal reaction to certain life events, but when feeling helpless, hopeless, and worthless, along with feelings of intense sadness, last for many days to weeks and keep you from functioning normally, you very well may have clinical depression.

What Causes Depression in Women?
Rather than a single cause, like genetics for example, researchers suspect many factors unique to women contribute in developing depression. According to National Alliance on Mental Health, it is likely that genetic, environmental, chemical, hormonal, biological, psychological, and social factors all play a role to contribute to depression.

Female hormones, which change throughout life, are also being studied by scientists as influencing depression in women. Researchers have shown that hormones directly affect the brain chemistry that controls emotions and mood, according to MayoClinic.org. Seasonal periods during a woman’s life are of interest, including puberty, menstruation, pregnancy (before, during, and just after) and menopause (just prior to and during).

The higher rate of depression in women isn’t due to biology alone. Stressful life events such as trauma, loss of a loved one, a difficult relationship or any stressful situation often trigger depression.

Recognizing Depression
Although depression might seem too difficult to handle, there’s effective treatment. Depression of every degree, from mild to severe, can usually be successfully treated. Seek help if you have any signs and symptoms of depression, such as: (Source: nimh.nih.gov)

  • Ongoing feelings of sadness, guilt or hopelessness
  • Loss of interest in things you once enjoyed
  • Significant changes in your sleep pattern, such as falling or staying asleep or sleeping too much
  • Fatigue, or unexplained pain or other physical symptoms without an apparent cause
  • Changes in appetite leading to significant weight loss or weight gain
  • Feeling as though life isn’t worth living, or having thoughts of suicide

Seeking Treatment
Is treatment for you? If you recognize any of these symptoms in yourself and think you might be experiencing depression, contact your primary care provider. He or she will likely refer you to a mental health provider who specializes in diagnosing and treating mental illness, such as Clay County Behavioral Health Specialists.

Remember, you are not alone; depression is treatable. If you think you are depressed, get help today.

References
National Institute of Mental Health – http://www.nimh.nih.gov
Mayo Clinic – MayoClinic.org
National Alliance on Mental Health – http://www2.nami.org
American Psychological Association – http://www.apa.org
WebMD.com

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