Depression: Understanding the Common Mood Disorder Affecting Women's Mental Health

Women are almost twice as likely as men to have symptoms of depression. Not every woman experiences the same symptoms. Depression can be successfully treated. It can interfere with daily activities and significantly impact a person’s quality of life. Now, let us focus on understanding depression in women, the different types of depression they may experience, and potential causes.

Understanding Depression in Women

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, women aged 40 to 59 have the highest rate of depression (12.3 percent) compared to any other age and gender group in the US. In all other age groups, women also had higher rates of depression than men. Depression can present itself in different ways, depending on the individual, but it often involves feeling sad, unmotivated, fatigued, irritable, and having a lack of interest in activities they once enjoyed. Additionally, depression can also include changes in sleep patterns and eating habits. For some, it may even involve negative intrusive thoughts about self-worth and suicide.

Different Types of Depression in Women

Women go through several stages in life that can lead to different types of depression. The most common ones are Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder (PMDD), Perinatal Depression, and Perimenopausal Depression.

Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder (PMDD)

PMDD is a severe form of premenstrual syndrome (PMS) that affects a small percentage of women, characterized by moodiness, irritability, and other symptoms like appetite changes, bloating, breast tenderness, joint, or muscle pain. It is a severe condition with disabling symptoms like anger, depressed mood, sadness, and suicidal thoughts. Women who experience these symptoms should consult a healthcare professional for help.

Perinatal Depression

Perinatal depression affects women during pregnancy and after childbirth. It is a mood disorder that can include depression that begins during pregnancy (called prenatal depression) and depression that begins after childbirth (called postpartum depression). Perinatal depression includes feelings of extreme sadness, anxiety, and fatigue that may make it difficult for women to carry out daily tasks, including caring for themselves, their new child, or others.

Perimenopausal Depression

Perimenopause is the transition into menopause, a normal phase in a woman’s life that can sometimes be challenging. Women going through perimenopause may experience abnormal periods, problems sleeping, mood swings, and hot flashes. However, if they struggle with irritability, anxiety, sadness, or loss of enjoyment, they may be experiencing perimenopausal depression.

Potential Causes of Depression in Women

There are several potential causes of depression, including genetic, biological, environmental, and psychological factors. Here are some common ones:

  • Biological differences: People with depression appear to have physical changes in their brains. Recent research suggests that changes in the function and effect of neurotransmitters and how they interact with neural circuits involved in maintaining mood stability may play a significant role in depression and its treatment.
  • Brain chemistry: Neurotransmitters, which are naturally occurring brain chemicals, also likely play a role in depression.
  • Inherited traits: Depression is more common in people whose blood relatives also have this condition. Researchers are trying to find genes that may be involved in causing depression.
  • LGBT Issues: Stigmatization, discrimination, family rejection are factors that can contribute to an increase in depression and suicidal thoughts.
  • Hormones: Changes in the body’s balance of hormones may be involved in causing or triggering depression.

Depression is a common mood disorder that can affect women at different stages of their lives. PMDD, perinatal depression, and perimenopausal depression are unique forms of depression that women may experience. Biological differences, inherited traits, and LGBT issues can also contribute to depression. If you think you may be experiencing depression, seek help from a healthcare provider or trained mental health professional. Remember, depression is treatable, and you are not alone.

It May Be Time For

Psychological Support

This is an office that specializes in the treatment of women. There are times in life when a woman can feel off balance and can’t seem to snap out of it. When our own natural support system just isn’t enough, it may be time to reach out to a professional counselor to start the process of therapy.

Our new office in Portland provides effective and reliable Teletherapy services for women. It has proven to be a very viable way to meet with clients.  During our sessions, we meet face-to-face, utilize the whiteboard and share important visual materials with you.  We recognize the importance of a good therapeutic relationship and strive to build a positive rapport, treating each client with respect and dignity.  This office now accepts Medicaid clients.