Women mature earlier than men, and this is evident when girls enter puberty. They reach puberty earlier than boys do, so there is an earlier risk of depression onset in girls than in boys. Hormones play a big role in the risk of depression, but other issues associated with puberty also play a role. These issues include struggling with physical and emotional changes, identity issues, sexual issues, conflicts with family, as well as the pressures of growing up such as in school, friends, and fitting in.
Some women may also experience severe forms of pre-menstrual syndrome known as premenstrual dysphoric disorder. In these cases, women do not just experience the usual irritability and melancholy that comes with PMS, PMDD might actually lead to such strong feelings of helplessness and sadness that their lives end up being disrupted: with their families, career and relationships. This is thought to be related to hormonal changes, specifically including serotonin which controls a person’s mood. This can be aggravated by other factors such as family history and current life circumstances.
Women can also develop depression during pregnancy. This might not be known fact for a lot of women because we usually see beaming mothers in TV shows and movies. However, women experience a lot of hormonal changes during this time and some other factors might contribute to this such as the changes that she faces when she has a child, worries about finances, career change, and most especially if she does not have the solid support of her family of the father of the baby.
There is also the more common known form of depression in women, post partum depression. This type of depression is normally experienced by women in the weeks following giving birth. Women who have PPD usually have bouts of sadness and tears, have low-self esteem, anxiety, agitation and doubtful feelings towards her baby. However, these symptoms usually last for only a few weeks. 10-15 percent of women will have more serious bouts of PPD, and these are considered a medical situation that needs prompt attention. Symptoms will include thoughts of harming the baby or thoughts of suicide. When this happens, women and their family should seek the help of medical professionals.
Women undergoing perimenopause and menopause are also at increased risk of depression because of the hormonal changes. Women who have also undergone hysterectomy with the removal of ovaries may experience gradual hormonal changes that can bring about depression.
Some situations may also push women over the edge of depression, such as having drug problems, being in an abusive relationship, being in the middle of divorce, or having too much trouble at work. Depression may give rise to other health situations such as eating disorders, sleep disorders, alcohol abuse or substance abuse.
Because of the dangers involved in depression, yourself including friends and family should be vigilant about recognizing signs of depression especially if you have a family history of severe depression. Symptoms will include persistent sad feelings, disinterest in things that you used to enjoy, social withdrawal, fatigue, lack of sleep or sleeping too much, losing too much weight or gaining too much weight, changes in appetite, as well as having thoughts of harming yourself or thoughts of suicide.
If you suspect that you are depressed or a loved one is undergoing depression, you should seek the help of your health care provider. The earlier depression is identified, the easier the problem can be addressed. Remember that depression is more common than you think so there is no shame in it, and it also can be treated with the right guidance.