Men and women are from different planets. They even wrote a book about it. Everything from communication styles thought processes, and hormones are different. Mental health is one area in which studies have proven men and women do not experience issues in the same way.
Depression, for example, is experienced at twice the rate for women than men. One in eight women reports depression of some form. That’s more than 12.5 million American women. One reason is that there are more types of depression for women to experience.
In this article, we’re taking a look at the symptoms of depression in women.
Types of Depression in Women
Women face types of depression men cannot experience, like those related to hormones. For example, women experience post-partum depression after giving birth. Other types specific to women include perimenopause, premenstrual, and perinatal depression. Even social norms and expectations can play a role for women.
Then, there are the types of depression women share with men, like major depressive disorder, persistent depressive disorder, bipolar disorder, seasonal affective disorder, and atypical depression.
Here are the most common symptoms of depression in women.
Symptoms of Depression in Women
It’s important to recognize symptoms of depression may vary among women also. Below are 17 examples of symptoms women may experience. If the symptoms appear for most of the day and more than two weeks, seek a mental health professional’s advice. Most symptoms are easily improved.
Some of the most common symptoms of depression include:
- Losing interest in activities they once enjoyed.
- Crying for no apparent reason or being unable to stop crying.
- Feeling overwhelmingly guilty or shameful.
- Feeling sad or hopeless.
- Feeling irritable, agitated, or easily angered.
- Being unable to stay focused on a task or lack concentration.
- Feeling overly tired even after getting a lot of sleep.
- Feeling an emptiness in the stomach.
- Noticing a change in appetite, either a loss of appetite or overeating.
- Isolating from friends and family.
Less Common Symptoms
There are additional, less common symptoms to watch out for in women who may have depression.
- Feeling tense, clenched jaw, muscle tightness, tension headaches.
- Experiencing digestive problems like nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea.
- Having mood swings, things that once did not bother you, now cause a change in mood.
- Being unable to sleep or sleeping too many signals a sleep disturbance.
- Self-medicating with drugs or alcohol to make yourself feel happier.
- Behaving in reckless ways to escape feelings of depression, like gambling or high-risk activities.
- Feeling unexplained aches and pains.
- Being preoccupied with death or dying.
- Having suicidal thoughts or thinking everyone would be better off if you weren’t around.
- Thoughts of harming someone else.
- Feeling anxious, restless, or experience panic.
- Overcompensating perceived happiness, so others won’t know you are depressed.
- Harming yourself in any way to experience a release of emotions.
- Having low self-esteem.
- Being uninterested in sex or intimacy.
- Feeling as if your arms and legs are heavy and a slowing of speech or movements.
- Having trouble in relationships.
- Being overly sensitive to criticism and rejection.
- Being unable to move forward weeks or months after a negative experience like losing a loved one, an argument with a friend, or complication at work.
You may be wondering what causes women to have symptoms like the ones listed above. That question has multiple answers, and each woman’s cause can differ. The following causes can appear alone or in combination.
Causes of Depression in Women
Researchers haven’t been able to identify one specific cause for depression in women because there are many possible contributors. Also, depression doesn’t appear overnight. It can take years to develop. For this reason, many women don’t recognize they have depression. They attribute their feelings to aging, life experiences, or that’s “just the way it is” thinking.
In reality, there are specific causes of depression, like genetics. There is a gene that represents depression. It can be inherited from family members. Having the gene does not mean you will automatically have depression. It simply means you are at higher risk if other factors appear.
For example, the depression gene combined with a physical medical condition could trigger depression. When you feel bad physically, it affects your mental health. Other causes may include changes in the balance of chemicals, or neurotransmitters, in the brain. Lower levels of serotonin, norepinephrine, and dopamine will make you feel depressed. This is one reason depression is considered a brain disease.
Living in an environment that is unhealthy or abusive can lead to depression, as well as using drugs or alcohol. Past traumatic experiences, like sexual or physical abuse, death of a loved one, war combat, and experiencing a natural disaster and losing everything can trigger depressive thoughts. As you age, you become more prone to depression. Some medications produce side effects of depression. Social isolation, chronic illnesses, significant events, and personal conflicts at work, home, or socially can lead to depression.
All these symptoms can be successfully treated with the help of a mental health professional, like a psychiatrist, psychologist, or individual therapist.
Treatment for Women With Depression
The first step to figuring out which treatments are best for you is to seek an evaluation from a local treatment facility. A licensed mental health professional will evaluate all possible causes and factors contributing to your symptoms. Then, together, you will create a treatment plan that may include individual therapy, group therapy, or a combination of the two.
If you have been self-medicating, you can receive treatment to stop. Using techniques like cognitive behavioral therapy, you can work through the issues making you feel depressed. If your symptoms are related to an imbalance in chemicals, you can work with a psychiatrist to discuss possible medication treatments.
Alternative treatments can enhance the progress you make in therapy. Examples include meditation, equine or pet therapy, art or music therapy, and lifestyle changes such as nutrition and physical activity.
You do not have to live with depression. You can overcome it and get back to feeling like the old you, enjoying relationships and social activities, and experiencing joy. Start today by reaching out to your local mental health facility.