Women and Depression

Hormones and the endocrine system play an important role in women’s health every month. These biological and reproductive factors may be a partial reason that women throughout the world suffer from depression nearly twice as much as men.

Women experience a higher rate of depression during pregnancy, after childbirth, and prior to and during menopause than at any other time during their lives. But occasional mood changes occur during premenstrual cycles as well. Some women however, experience more serious and extreme symptoms known as premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PDD), a significantly intense form of the more commonly known premenstrual syndrome (PMS).

Hormone Fluctuations and PDD

Research has not yet established how or why hormonal changes affect the moods of some women but not others. Some women experience an intense bout of premenstrual dysphoric disorder almost every month during the preceding week of menstruation. The same symptoms occur nearly every month from the teen years on through menopause. Certainly there exists a connection between fluctations in hormones and PDD. During the week of PDD women experience increased levels of anger, bloating, fatigue, anxiety, cravings for certain foods, self-esteem issues, self-blame and guilt – all signs of depression.

Depression-Induced Miscarriage

Depression itself however, is known to disrupt a woman’s immune system. There is sufficient research evidence to suggest that some miscarriages are caused by this depression-induced disruption. The loss of a baby is always devastating and the resulting depression is understandable. All women who are pregnant or planning to be should pay close attention to any signs of depression and seek the advice of a doctor as a precaution.

Postpartum Depression

Another serious mood disorder in women thought to be related to hormonal fluctuations is postpartum depression. The symptoms are very similar to major depression disorder involving very low mood and a drop in most pleasures or interests. Generally there are other symptoms as well, including concentration and appetite issues, sleep problems and suicide thoughts. The symptoms develop a few days to a few weeks after giving birth, and can last for two or more weeks. Women experiencing postpartum depression try to maintain a normal appearance, often denying being depressed, but may experience sharply reduced ability to function normally and thus require recovery time.

Extreme Depression

Just as major depression disorder has serious symptoms, ranging from being out of touch with reality and paranoia, women have been known to experience psychoses in severe cases of postpartum depression, including hearing voices, hallucinations, delusions and paranoia. This is extreme depression that can pose a serious risk to the baby and themselves, and requires professional attention.

The typical postpartum depression often called the “baby blues” is mild, lasting only a few short weeks.

Cultural Conditions

Depression in women around the world is often caused by cultural or social conditions. Many women are victims of verbal, physical or sexual abuse. Even clothing requirements in many countries is enough reason to be depressed. Women living in stressful, war-ravaged, low-income countries have little opportunity to advance in a career – all of which can be cause for serious depression.

This report is not a diagnosis. We hope this information can guide you toward improving your life.

Review our Knowledge Base or the links displayed on this page for similar and related topics.