Anyone can become depressed. It’s reported that about 19 million Americans a year suffer from this disorder. That’s nearly 10% of the population. However, it’s been noted that women develop depression at a higher rate than men. Over the course of their lifetime, 10-25% of women will become depressed, while only 5-12% of men will experience it.
These statistics point to the logic that gender does play a part in depression. It’s not only based on biology, though, according to studies. It can also be because of higher stress levels woman face due to pressures found in society and the media. We’ll take a look at several of the factors that may make women more likely to become depressed.
Before puberty, both genders are susceptible to depression at similar rates, but once girls enter adolescence, there is a significant rise in the numbers. Hormonal changes may contribute to the changes in depression rates. Temporary mood swings due to fluctuating hormones during puberty can cause feelings of sadness, anxiety and emptiness associated with depression.
For boys, it’s typical that puberty causes them to develop disruptive behavior disorders rather than problems associated with depressive disorders.
Once a female starts her period, she can be more susceptible to depressive issues. Some woman experience depression before their periods due to premenstrual syndrome (PMS), which starts at ovulation and becomes increasingly worse until menstruation begins. Researchers have explored the cycle of hormones such as estrogen and their effect on the brain chemistry related to mental disorders.
The hormonal changes caused during pregnancy can also cause depression. Between one week and six months after the baby is born, some women can suffer from postpartum depression. It can vary from mild episodes to severe major depression. This disorder affects about 10-15% of women. While hormones play a part in postpartum depression, the new responsibilities associated with having a child can also increase anxiety and lead to depressive episodes.
Some believe that other factors such as increased responsibility at home can cause women to become depressed at a higher rate than men. Women are often the main caregiver for children and do more household chores in addition to working outside the home.
There are also societal factors that can come into play. Women feel more pressure to look a certain way, which can cause them to develop issues with their bodies and weight. Eating disorders such as anorexia and bulimia are much more common in women than men. They are often intertwined with depression.
Women who are emotionally and/or physically abused by their male partners are more vulnerable to depression, as are women who have been abused as children. Abuse leads to low self-esteem and feelings of shame that can lead to depression.
Studies have shown that for both men and woman, depression is more common among those who are separated or divorced. It’s lower for those who are married. On the other hand, those in marriages that aren’t healthy are also likely to have issues with depression.
The highest rates of depression were found in unhappily married women.
If you feel you are suffering from depression, or have a loved one with symptoms, call a professional for help. It may seem overwhelming, but there is treatment available.
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