From mentalhealthhotline.org (article republished with permission)
Everybody has bad days. Sometimes we go through periods of time when we feel awful and like the world is against us. Depression is far worse. It doesn’t just last for a period of time. It’s a mental disorder that affects everyday life every single day. Depression affects everything, from your thoughts to your actions, from work to school to sleep. There are also multiple forms of depression. If you feel the need to talk to someone about depression, call us at 1-866-903-3787. Specialists are standing by.
Women are twice as likely to experience depression than men. On top of that, there is a unique set of depression types exclusive to women. Luckily there’s also a unique set of groups dedicated solely to women’s mental health. That’s all covered and more in the following five things you should know about depression and women.
Please know that the mental health of all people should be taken seriously. Nothing in this article is meant to say that one gender’s mental health is any more important than another gender’s mental health. Every single person alive experiencing depression deserves help. The fact is that people who identify as women do indeed experience depression more than any other gender does. Therefore, we here at the Mental Health Hotline feel it’s important to list the following things you should know.
1. Depression is a Real Condition
For some this may seem absurd to even have to point out. However, a stigma does exist for some that depression is either faked or can be ‘snapped out of’. This is false information. Depression is very much a real mental disease, caused by a combination of factors that may be genetic, biological, environmental, psychological, and/or related to substance abuse. Certain tragic events or upbringings can also cause depression.
It’s easy to think that someone with depression could simply think happy thoughts or do something they love to do. The thing with depression is that happy thoughts don’t often come, and interest even in things one loves becomes hard to come by. Because of societal pressures and an abundance of discrimination, women with depression face a unique set of obstacles. If you’re a woman with depression, we don’t have any cliché advice for you other than to seek help. Call us if you need to. Reach out to a loved one and even if you don’t have the words to say, maybe that person can help.
2. Being Depressed is More Than Being Sad
For those without depression, it’s rather difficult to truly comprehend what people with depression go through on a day to day basis. One reality that isn’t often recognized is that sadness isn’t always the main component of depression. It’s a myth that depression is limited to feeling sad and grumpy all the time with your eyes on your shoes.
Depression affects every aspect of your life. This includes your emotions, your physical body, your actions, your relationships, your whole life. People with depression do not always appear to be depressed. They might actually be happy, even exuberant at times. As with any disease, the symptoms are different for everyone afflicted with it.
The following is a list of the symptoms of depression, but please know that as long as it is, any list for depression symptoms is incomplete. People are unique, and so our symptoms of disease are also unique.
Anyone who experiences one or more of the following symptoms for about two weeks or any longer may be suffering from depression. They are listed alphabetically.
- Aches, cramps, headaches or body pains
- Digestive issues (physically untreatable)
- Fatigue and overall tiredness
- Feelings of guilt, worthlessness, disconnection and/or helplessness
- Insomnia, trouble sleeping and/or restlessness
- Irritability and/or aggression
- Loss of interest in hobbies, social life, and/or sex
- Overeating or appetite loss
- Pessimistic attitude (otherwise not present)
- Sad and empty feelings
- Suicidal tendencies and/or actions
- Trouble concentrating or staying engaged
3. Women Experience Unique Forms of Depression
There are three types of depression that solely affect women. These types of depression are all common and can affect women at different stages of their lives. The menstrual cycle, pregnancy, and perimenopause each create drastic changes in women’s bodies and hormones that can cause depression.
PMDD (Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder)
Premenstrual syndrome, commonly referred to as PMS, consists of mood changes and/or irritability in the time leading up to and during menstruation. It’s extremely common and the symptoms are altogether mild. PMDD, however, is less common but still not rare and is essentially a severe form of PMS. Symptoms include anger, depression, sadness, suicidal ideation, appetite changes, bloating, and body aches.
Pregnancy comes with a long list of challenges, which include nausea, weight gain, mood swings, and much more. Being a new mom is also hard, and many new moms experience “baby blues,” a short period after childbirth during which feelings of worry, unhappiness and exhaustion set in.
Perinatal depression is much more severe than the baby blues. Symptoms include extreme sadness, anxiety, fatigue, and loss of interest in everyday tasks. Perinatal depression can be so severe that it causes the woman to not be able to function properly as an adult.
The transition into menopause is called the perimenopausal phase, and for many women it can be an extreme challenge. Symptoms may include abnormal menopause, lack of sleep, mood swings, hot flashes, and overall irritability. However, perimenopausal depression consists of feeling depressed, extremely sad, and/or suicidal on top of all the previous symptoms.
4. Depression is Treatable
It’s a complete myth to think that depression cannot be treated. Even the most severe forms of depression can be helped. Generally, a combination of antidepressant medicine and psychotherapy is prescribed. Everyone responds differently to antidepressants, and it may take a few different drugs to find one that helps. That’s totally normal.
There are also multiple forms of psychotherapy, including behavioral, cognitive, and interpersonal. Speak with your doctor about which form best suits you and remember that it’s good to try multiple forms to find what works. There is no one manual for treating depression. However, with medicine and therapy, depression can absolutely be treated.
5. Plenty of Help Exist
First and foremost, if you are suffering from depression or believe yourself to be, seek professional help. There is no substitute for trained medical assistance. However, if you want to add support yourself, there are plenty of options. Join a forum online, or search for support groups near you.
Or start with us. The Mental Health Hotline exists for you to call and speak to a professional about anything related to mental health. Call us today and get connected with the help you need.
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