Depression affects millions of people worldwide, with women particularly vulnerable. Various factors, including genetic predisposition, biological changes, psychological issues, and social pressures, can cause depression in both genders.
Keep reading to take a closer look at these causes and understand how they contribute to depression in women. We’ll also share the common signs that you or someone you know may be struggling with it.
Main Causes of Depression
There are multiple causes of depression, and the condition often develops due to a combination of these factors:
Neurotransmitters, such as serotonin and dopamine, play a crucial role in regulating mood. Imbalances in these chemicals lead to sadness, anxiety, and hopelessness.
Some antidepressants increase the levels of these neurotransmitters in the brain, but it’s important to note that depression is not caused solely by a chemical imbalance.
Medical conditions, such as thyroid disorders, chronic pain, and hormonal changes during pregnancy and menopause, can increase a woman’s risk of depression.
A study reveals that certain personality traits and coping mechanisms may make a person more susceptible to depression.
- Individuals with low self-esteem, perfectionism, and a tendency to ruminate on negative thoughts may be more at risk for developing depression.
- Traumatic life events such as losing a loved one, a difficult breakup, childhood abuse, or a traumatic experience can also trigger depression.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) and other forms of psychotherapy help understand and change negative thought patterns, improve coping mechanisms, and increase self-esteem, which can be beneficial for managing symptoms of depression.
Women tend to experience more social pressure than men, often due to gender roles that dictate their behavior in relationships and the workplace or societal expectations surrounding motherhood.
The following societal pressures can also contribute to the development of depression:
- Pressure to conform to body image standards.
- Lack of economic independence.
- A culture that devalues women’s contributions.
- Discrimination based on race, class, gender identity or sexual orientation.
Research shows that depression tends to run in families, indicating that there may be a hereditary component to the mental health disorder. In addition, scientists have identified several genes that may be associated with depression, including those that regulate the production and function of neurotransmitters –– the chemical messengers in the brain involved in regulating mood.
However, it is essential to note that while genetics may increase the risk of developing depression, they do not guarantee it. Still, having a family history of depression is something to be aware of, as it can alert you to the possibility that you may experience it yourself.
Recognizing the Signs of Depression in Women
Knowing the signs and symptoms of depression is crucial in seeking help and getting treatment.
Common symptoms of depression include:
- Persistent feelings of sadness or hopelessness.
- Trouble sleeping or sleeping too much.
- Lack of energy or motivation.
- Loss of interest in activities that were previously enjoyable.
- Changes in appetite or weight.
- Difficulty concentrating or making decisions.
- Feelings of worthlessness or guilt.
- Thoughts of death or suicide.
If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, seek help as soon as possible.
How Depression in Women May Differ from Men
Depression in women may present itself differently than in men:
- Women are more likely to experience sadness, guilt, and worthlessness, while men are more likely to feel irritable, angry, and restless.
- Women are more likely to experience physical symptoms of depression, such as changes in appetite and sleep patterns, fatigue, and headaches.
- Women are more likely to experience anhedonia (the inability to experience pleasure) and feelings of hopelessness.
- Women are more likely to engage in self-harm and suicidal behaviors.
- Women are more likely to experience depression in response to stressful life events, such as relationship problems or financial stress.
- Women are more likely to experience symptoms of depression in a cyclical pattern, often linked to their menstrual cycle.
Depression looks different for men and women, with women tending to exhibit more symptoms of sadness, guilt, and worthlessness, while men often display symptoms such as irritability, anger, and substance abuse.
Everyone experiences depression differently. Consult a mental health professional directly to get a proper diagnosis.
Signs of Depression during Pregnancy and Postpartum
Pregnant and postpartum women are particularly vulnerable to depression due to hormonal changes, sleep deprivation, and other lifestyle adjustments.
However, experiencing some of these symptoms doesn’t necessarily mean a woman has postpartum depression. If you are experience any of these symptoms, seek help from a mental health professional immediately:
- Difficulty bonding with the baby.
- Intrusive thoughts or fears of harm coming to the baby.
- Excessive worrying about the baby’s health or development.
- Fear of being alone with the baby.
- Withdrawing from family and friends.
- Persistent guilt or self-blame.
Living with Depression: Coping Strategies and Support
Depression is a treatable condition, but managing it daily can still be challenging. However, these coping strategies and support mechanisms can make it much easier to deal with depression:
- Healthy Lifestyle Habits: Regular exercise, healthy eating, and adequate sleep.
- Self-care Practices: Make time for relaxing activities, such as yoga, meditation, or journaling, to reduce stress and clear your mind.
- Therapy: Talk therapy with a mental health professional can help you work through negative thoughts and behaviors.
- Seek Support From Others: Lean on friends, family, or online support groups for emotional comfort.
- Medication: Medication may be prescribed to help manage depression symptoms.
Take Control of Your Mental Health: Next Steps for Women at Kinder In The Keys
Remember, depression is a treatable condition, and many resources and support groups are available to women who may be struggling. Kinder In The Keys –– the leading women’s depression treatment center in Florida–– provides a safe space for women to recover from debilitating depression.
So, if you or a loved one is struggling with depression, contact Kinder In The Keys to learn more about the personalized treatment options we offer. We are always happy to help you take control of your mental health and live a happier, healthier life.