What Makes Women More Susceptible To Depression?
Even in 2017, pretty much any mental health topic can be quite the taboo. You may be able to discuss with your friends and family any other health issues but somehow, talking about how you’re feeling brings in a hint of hesitation – even when we try to speak to our doctors about it. One in three people suffer from mental health disorders, predominantly depression, but very few seek help or speak about it to anybody at all.
Like most disorders of the human body, depression is merely a biological dysfunction. And like most other biological dysfunctions of the body, it is curable by both, behavioral and lifestyle changes, as well as use of medicine.
Why are women more susceptible to depression?
Women experience more hormonal fluctuations throughout their lives as compared to men. Puberty, Pre-menstrual syndrome, Childbirth and Menopause cause variations in women’s hormonal levels frequently, making them more susceptible to depression.
Studies have also found that women tend to produce lower levels of a hormone called serotonin, which has a major role to play in mood stability. This increases the likelihood that a woman may develop depression.
While biology is certainly a determinant of depression, it is also triggered by a person’s socio-economic environment. Women are often the victims of violence and several forms of abuse. Distress of this sort can be quite detrimental to mental health, and it is telling that the statistics reflect this trend.
Women are also subjected to unrealistic standards of what their bodies should look like by the media. 85% of those suffering from Eating Disorders are women, and depression as well as anxiety is commonly reported in such patients.
Women constitute 70% of the world’s poor. Lack of access to basic resources and an equal chance at a fruitful life contribute to the high rates of depression in women.As many as 41% women suffer from depression after childbirth, also known as “Postpartum Depression”.
While the hormonal changes and physical stress that a pregnancy puts the body through can be quite taxing, cultural factors also have a role to play. Women are often the primary care giver of the child immediately after birth, and an unsupportive partner can add to this stress. A traumatic birth, lack of appropriate care post labour, etc. make Postpartum Depression a very common disorder in women.
How do I know if I’m suffering from depression?
It is important to realize that while most people experience some kind of sadness as a normal, healthy, human emotion, depression is quite different from that. Only a qualified Psychiatrist or Psychologist can diagnose a mental disorder for you. It can be quite difficult to spot the symptoms of depression in yourself or someone you know, so ask yourself the following questions:
- Have you been avoiding meeting your friends and family, or have your friends and family been complaining about your absence recently?
- Have you found yourself not enjoying a hobby you used to be really excited about?
- Has your attitude towards life changed to a careless, indifferent, hopeless one?
- Do you constantly have the feelings of nervousness, guilt, fear or sadness at the back of your mind? Does the way you feel seem to change too quickly, too often?
- Have you been feeling angrier, more irritable or been crying more than usual? When you feel this way, do you have urges to physically hurt yourself?
- Do you find it difficult to retain your focus? Are you taking longer than usual to complete your tasks?
- Have you been mindlessly eating more than usual, or eating too little?
- Do you have trouble falling asleep, or sleep too many hours in a day?
- Do you have thoughts about death or dying?
What do I do about it?
You may experience one, or many of the symptoms listed above. Remember, this is not a diagnosis, but if you have answered to at least a few of these questions affirmatively, you must seek medical help. Your feelings and experiences need not be a topic of shame or taboo. Learn more here.