Understanding Depression In Women
Depression may affect many aspects of a woman’s life, including her physical health, social life, relationships, profession, and feeling of self-worth, and is exacerbated by reproductive hormones, societal expectations, and the particular feminine reaction to stress. However, it is essential to understand that you are not alone. Women are about twice as likely as males to suffer from depression, but the condition is curable, and there are several ways to feel better.
Obviously, the Catch-22 of depression is that feeling well needs activity, yet it is difficult to take action when sad. However, despite the fact that you might not have a lot of energy, there is a good chance that you still have enough to take a short walk around the block or get in touch with a loved one, either of which might be a wonderful start to improving your mood and perspective. It is also vital to understand the causes of depression in women so that you may confront the disease head-on, treat your depression properly, and avoid it from returning.
Signs And Symptoms Of Depression In Women
Women’s depression symptoms range from mild to severe (major depression) based on the influence they have on their capacity to function. Typical symptoms of depression include:
- Feelings of powerlessness and despair You believe that nothing will ever improve and that there is nothing you can do to change your condition.
- You no longer care about hobbies, diversions, and social activities you formerly enjoyed.
- Changes in appetite can result in considerable weight loss or increase.
- Alterations to your sleep routine.
- Feeling irritated, anxious, and restless.
- Feeling exhausted, lethargic, and depleted of energy.
- Difficulty focusing, making judgments, and remembering.
- A rise in aches and pains, including headaches, cramps, breast tenderness, and bloating.
- Suicidal ideation
Women are also more likely than males to have specific depressive symptoms. These consist of:
- Less sunshine during the winter months causes seasonal affective disorder (winter depression).
- Instead of sleeping less, eating less, and losing weight, you suffer the opposite symptoms of atypical depression: excessive sleeping, increased food intake (particularly refined carbs), and weight gain.
- Strong sentiments of guilt and destitution You criticize yourself aggressively for perceived flaws and errors.
Causes Of Depression In Women
Women report depression at far greater rates than males. Several social, biological, and hormonal elements that are unique to women may explain this gender gap.
Premenstrual issues. Premenstrual syndrome (PMS) symptoms, such as bloating, irritability, exhaustion, and emotional reactivity, can be caused by hormonal imbalances throughout the menstrual cycle. Certain women may be diagnosed with premenstrual dysphoric disorder if their symptoms are severe and incapacitating (PMDD). PMDD is characterized by severe sadness, irritability, and other mood abnormalities that begin 10 to 14 days before your period and subside a few days after the onset of your period.
Obstetrics and infertility. The many hormonal changes that occur during pregnancy can contribute to the development of depression, especially in women who are already at risk. Other pregnancy-related concerns, such as loss, undesired pregnancy, and infertility, may also contribute to depression.
Postpartum depression. It is normal for new moms to suffer from “baby blues.” This is a typical response that often subsides in a few weeks. However, some women suffer from persistent, severe depression. This disorder is known as postpartum depression, and it is believed to be at least somewhat driven by hormone imbalances.
Menopause and perimenopause. During perimenopause, the time preceding menopause in which reproductive hormones change quickly, there may be an increased risk of depression in women. Women with a history of depression are more likely to experience depression throughout menopause.
The physiological response of females to stress. Women create more stress hormones than males, and the female sex hormone progesterone prevents the stress hormone system from shutting down, as it would in men. This can increase a woman’s susceptibility to stress-induced depression.
Depression in adolescence may be exacerbated by the increase in body image difficulties that females experience during puberty.
Thyroid issues. Since hypothyroidism can induce depression, a physician should always rule out this condition.
Side effects of birth control or hormone replacement treatment medications.
Health issues. Chronic sickness, injury, or handicap, as well as crash dieting and quitting smoking, can cause sadness in women.
Other Common Causes Of Depression Include:
- Loneliness and isolation; a lack of social support.
- Depression in the family tree
- Trauma or maltreatment in childhood.
- Abuse of drugs or alcohol.
- Relationship or marriage issues; juggling the demands of a profession and a family.
- Family duties, such as the care of children, a spouse, or aged parents.
- Experiencing prejudice at work or failing to achieve significant goals, losing or switching jobs, retiring, or entering military duty.
- Money difficulties persist.
- Death of a loved one or other traumatic life event that leaves you feeling worthless, powerless, lonely, or terribly depressed.
It is essential to keep in mind that depression, at any age and for any reason, is severe and should be treated as such. Even though you have been informed that your symptoms are a “natural” aspect of being a woman, you are not required to suffer in silence. There are a variety of ways to manage depression and feel better.
Tip 1: How To Feel Better, Reach Out For Social Support
Simple yet effective self-help actions can make a substantial impact on your depression. It takes time and effort to feel better when you don’t feel like making an effort. But you can get there if you make daily constructive decisions and rely on the support of others.
Obtaining the support of caring for others is vital for conquering depression. Alone, it can be challenging to keep a healthy perspective and sustain the work necessary to overcome depression. In addition, the nature of depression makes it difficult to seek assistance. When sad, the inclination is to withdraw and isolate, and an irritable mood might drive you to react negatively to things that wouldn’t ordinarily affect you, further isolating you from people.
Ask for the assistance and support you require and discuss your situation with those you love and trust. You may have ignored your most valuable connections, yet they will help you get through this difficult moment. Even if you are timid or introverted, you may get assistance to make new connections if you feel you have no one to confide in.
How To Reach Out For Support
Seek assistance from others who make you feel secure and cared for. The person you talk to does not need to be able to repair you; they only need to be a good listener – someone who will listen carefully and compassionately, without being distracted or passing judgment.
Make face-to-face interaction a priority. Phone conversations, social media, and texting are all excellent methods to remain in contact, but they cannot replace face-to-face interaction. Talking to someone face-to-face about how you feel can play a significant part in treating and preventing depression.
Even if you don’t feel like it, try to keep up with social activities. When depressed, it often feels more comfortable to withdraw into your shell, yet being among other people will alleviate your depression.
Consider methods to assist others. It’s lovely to get assistance, but the study indicates that offering help to others provides an even greater mood boost. Find methods to help others, both large and small: volunteer, be a listening ear for a friend, or do something nice for someone.
Join a group for depression support. Being with individuals who also struggle with depression can significantly reduce feelings of loneliness. You may also provide and receive encouragement, and tips on coping, and share your experiences.
Tip 2: Support Your Health
To combat depression, you must engage in activities that soothe and rejuvenate you. This involves adopting a healthy lifestyle, learning how to better handle stress, putting reasonable limitations on what you can do, and arranging enjoyable activities throughout the day.
Aim for eight hours of sleep per night. Depression is frequently accompanied by sleep disturbances; whether you sleep too little or too much, your mood suffers. However, you may improve your sleep pattern by adopting good sleep practices.
Keep stress under control. Stress not only prolongs and aggravates depression, but it can also initiate it. Determine the stressors in your life, such as work overload, financial issues, and unsupportive relationships, and identify solutions to alleviate the strain and retake control.
Practice relaxing methods. Regular relaxation practice helps alleviate depressive symptoms, reduce stress, and enhance emotions of happiness and well-being. Yoga, deep breathing, gradual muscular relaxation, or meditation are all viable options.
Care for a pet. While there is no substitute for human connection, dogs may bring happiness and friendship into your life and make you feel less alone. Caring for a pet may also pull you outside of yourself and make you feel wanted, which are both effective antidepressants.
Engage in activities that you enjoy (or are used to). You cannot force yourself to have fun or experience pleasure, but you can force yourself to do things when you’re not in the mood. Retake an old pastime or sport you once enjoyed. Creatively express oneself through music, painting, or writing. Spend time with friends. Visit a museum, the mountains, or the ballpark for the day.
Tip 3: Get Up And Get Moving
Even getting out of bed may be a big effort when you’re sad, let alone working exercise! However, exercise is an effective antidepressant and one of the most essential instruments for depression rehabilitation.
According to studies, regular exercise can be as helpful as antidepressant medicine in boosting energy and reducing symptoms of exhaustion. You need not even visit the gym. A daily 30-minute stroll will provide a much-needed lift. And if you can’t commit to 30 minutes, three 10-minute spurts of activity throughout the day are as helpful.
Exercise is something you can do immediately to improve your mood.
Your weariness will improve with persistence. When sad and weary, it might be challenging to begin an exercise regimen. However, research indicates that your energy levels will increase if you persist. Exercise will make you feel more energized and less exhausted, not the opposite.
Find workouts that are rhythmic and continuous. Walking, weight training, swimming, martial arts, and dance are examples of rhythmic exercises that provide the most advantages for depression.
Add a mindfulness component, particularly if your sadness stems from unresolved trauma or is fueled by negative, obsessive thoughts. Concentrate on how your body feels as you walk, such as the sensation of your feet striking the ground, the feeling of the wind on your skin, and your breathing pattern.
Team up with a workout companion. Working out with others not only allows you to socialize, but it may also help you stay motivated. Consider joining a jogging club, water aerobics or dancing class, searching for tennis partners, or registering for a soccer or volleyball league.
Walk a dog. You can volunteer to walk homeless dogs for an animal shelter or rescue organization if you do not own a dog. You will not only improve yourself, but you will also help socialize and exercise the dogs, which will make them more adoptable.
Tip 4: Eat A Healthy, Depression-fighting Diet
What you consume has a direct effect on how you feel. Some women find that dietary changes, nutritional supplements, and herbal therapies can alleviate the symptoms of depression. These consist of:
- Reducing the consumption of salt, bad fats, caffeine, sugar/refined carbohydrates, and alcohol can help alleviate symptoms of sadness.
- Not skipping meals. Aim to consume something every three to four hours, since going too long between meals might make you feel angry and exhausted.
- Increasing B vitamins. Depression can be caused by deficiencies in B vitamins such as folic acid and B-12. Eat extra citrus fruit, leafy greens, legumes, poultry, and eggs to increase your consumption. Vitamin B-6, calcium, magnesium, Vitamin E, and tryptophan have all been proven to be beneficial for PMDD patients.
- Consuming meals containing omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3 fatty acids are vital for mood regulation. The finest sources are fatty fish like salmon, herring, mackerel, anchovies, sardines, and tuna, as well as seaweed, flaxseed, and walnuts.
- Taking measures to ensure enough iron intake. Low iron levels can cause common depressive symptoms such as irritability, exhaustion, and concentration difficulties. Included among foods high in iron are red meat, beans, leafy greens, and dried fruit.
- Herbal supplements may be beneficial. Both primrose oil and chaste tree berries have been identified as viable treatments for PMDD.
Tip 5: Get A Daily Dose Of Sunlight
Light from the sun can increase serotonin levels and improve your mood. Aim for a minimum of 15 minutes of daily sunlight. Take off your sunglasses (but never look directly at the sun) and apply sunscreen as necessary.
- Take a walk during your lunch break, enjoy your coffee or meal al fresco, people-watch from a park bench, or engage in some gardening.
- Exercising outside maximizes the benefits of sunshine. With a companion, try hiking, walking in a neighborhood park, or playing golf or tennis.
- Open blinds and drapes and sit near windows to increase the amount of natural light in your home and workplace.
- If you live in an area with limited winter sunlight, consider using a light therapy box.
Dealing with the winter blues
Winter’s diminished daylight hours cause a form of depression known as seasonal affective disorder (SAD). Women are diagnosed with SAD four times more frequently than men. SAD can cause you to feel like a completely different person than you do in the summer: hopeless, depressed, tense, and stressed, with no desire for friends or activities you normally enjoy. Regardless of how horrible you feel, there are several ways to maintain a steady mood throughout the year.
Tip 6: Challenge Negative Thinking
Depression casts a gloomy light on everything, including one’s self-perception and future expectations. When these sorts of ideas overwhelm you, it’s crucial to keep in mind that this is a consequence of your depression and that these illogical, gloomy attitudes, known as cognitive distortions, are unrealistic.
When we’re depressed, women also have a tendency to ruminate, often spending hours trying to figure out why we’re feeling this way. However, ruminating can perpetuate or even exacerbate depression. Oftentimes, this negative state of mind is the result of a lifelong habit of thought that has been so ingrained that you are not even aware of it.
You may build a more balanced style of thinking by identifying the negative ideas that contribute to your depression and then learning to replace them with more balanced ones.
Negative, Unrealistic Ways Of Thinking That Fuel Depression
The all-or-nothing mentality “If I fall short of perfection, I’m a total failure” is an example of seeing things in black-and-white terms with no grey area.
Overgeneralization. Inferring from a single poor experience that it will always be true (“I can’t do anything well”).
The cognitive filter. Neglecting favorable occurrences and concentrating on unpleasant ones. Noticing the one item that went wrong instead of the many things that went well.
Reducing the positive. Inventing reasons why positive occurrences do not count (“He claimed he enjoyed our date, but I believe he was just being kind.”)
The act of jumping to conclusions. Making negative inferences in the absence of proof. You behave like a mind reader (“She must think I’m pitiful”) or a seer (“I’ll be stuck in this dead-end job forever”).
Psychological reasoning. Believing that one’s emotions accurately represent reality (“I feel like such a loser; I’m actually terrible!”).
Shoulds and shouldn’t. Hold yourself to a tight list of what you should and shouldn’t do, and beat yourself up if you fail to follow your own standards.
Labeling. Self-labeling based on errors and perceived deficiencies (“I’m a failure; an idiot; a loser”)
Challenge Your Negative Thinking
Once you have identified the negative thinking patterns that contribute to your sadness, you may begin to confront them by asking such questions as:
- What is the proof that this idea is correct? Not true?”
- What would I say to a buddy who held this view?
- Existe-t-il une autre façon de voir la situation or une autre explication?
- “How might I view this circumstance if I were not depressed?”
As you cross-examine negative thoughts, you may be amazed at how rapidly they disintegrate. For instance, consider the negative idea, “My employer despises me. This sentence might be rewritten with: “My employer must have a great deal of confidence in me to give me so much responsibility.” You will build a more balanced viewpoint and alleviate your sadness via the process of addressing negative beliefs.
Get Professional Help If Needed
Seek the assistance of a mental health professional if self-help techniques are insufficient. While women and men react similarly to the same forms of treatment for depression, specific components of treatment are frequently changed for women. In addition, women are more likely to require concurrent therapy for problems such as anxiety and eating disorders.
Therapy. The most effective treatment for depression is talk therapy. It can offer you the tools and understanding to alleviate depression symptoms and prevent a relapse. When selecting a therapist, your rapport with this individual is one of the most crucial factors to consider. The appropriate therapist will be a compassionate and supporting partner in your therapy and recovery from depression.
Medication. Antidepressants may alleviate certain symptoms of depression in women, but they cannot treat the underlying cause. Due to biological variations, women often begin antidepressant treatment at lower dosages than males. Additionally, women are more prone to develop adverse effects, thus any prescription usage must be thoroughly monitored. Do not seek pharmaceutical advice from a physician who is not specialized in mental health, and remember that medicine is most effective when combined with healthy lifestyle changes.
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