4 factors that make women more prone to depression than men


  • Mind
  • Saturday, 02 Mar 2019

Women are nearly twice as likely as men to be diagnosed with depression and it can occur at any age. — PP

Women are nearly twice as likely as men to be diagnosed with depression and it can occur at any age. Some mood changes and depressed feelings occur with normal hormonal changes, but hormonal changes alone don’t cause depression.

Other biological factors, inherited traits, and personal life circumstances and experiences, are associated with a higher risk of depression. Here’s what contributes to depression in women:

Puberty

Hormone changes during puberty may increase some girls’ risk of developing depression. However, temporary mood swings related to fluctuating hormones during puberty are normal – these changes alone don’t cause depression.

Puberty is often associated with other experiences that can play a role in depression, such as:

Emerging sexuality and identity issues

Conflicts with parents

Increasing pressure to achieve in school, sports or other areas of life

After puberty, depression rates are higher in females than in males. Because girls typically reach puberty before boys do, they’re more likely to develop depression at an earlier age than boys are. This depression gender gap lasts until after menopause.

Premenstrual problems

For most females with premenstrual syndrome (PMS), symptoms such as abdominal bloating, breast tenderness, headache, anxiety, irritability and experiencing the blues are minor and short-lived.

But a small number of females have severe and disabling symptoms that disrupt their studies, jobs, relationships or other areas of their lives. At that point, PMS may cross the line into premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD) – a type of depression that generally requires treatment.

The exact interaction between depression and PMS remains unclear. It’s possible that cyclical changes in oestrogen, progesterone and other hormones, can disrupt the function of brain chemicals, such as serotonin, that control mood.

Inherited traits, life experiences and other factors appear to play a role.

Pregnancy

Dramatic hormonal changes occur during pregnancy and these can affect mood.

Other issues may also increase the risk of developing depression during pregnancy or during attempts to become pregnant, such as:

Lifestyle or work changes, or other life stressors

Relationship problems

Previous episodes of depression, postpartum depression or PMDD

Lack of social support

Unintended or unwanted pregnancy

Miscarriage

Infertility

Stopping use of antidepressant medications

Postpartum depression

Many new mothers find themselves sad, angry and irritable, and experience crying spells soon after giving birth. These feelings – sometimes called the baby blues – are normal and generally subside within a week or two.

But more serious or long-lasting depressed feelings may indicate postpartum depression, particularly if signs and symptoms include:

Low self-esteem or feeling like you’re a bad mum

Anxiety or feeling numb

Trouble sleeping, even when your baby is sleeping

Problems with daily functioning

Inability to care for your baby

Thoughts of harming your baby

Thoughts of suicide

Postpartum depression is a serious medical condition requiring prompt treatment. It occurs in about 10-15% of women.

It’s thought to be associated with:

Major hormonal fluctuations that influence mood

The responsibility of caring for a newborn

Predisposition to mood and anxiety disorders

Birth complications

Breast-feeding problems

Infant complications or special needs

Poor social support – Mayo Clinic News Network/Tribune News Service

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