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Depression in women: Causes, types, symptoms and treatment

Dr. Rashmi ByakodiNov 11, 2022

Do you feel sad or hopeless all the time? Are you losing interest in activities that used to bring you happiness before? If so, you may be experiencing Depression. According to studies, women get affected by Depression almost twice as often as men. Depression may affect almost every area of your life, from your mental health to your social life. But there are many ways to tackle it effectively. Keep reading to know more about Depression in women.

Depression in Women

Contents

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What is Depression?

Depression is a medical disorder that impacts your mental health and productivity. Depression can cause sadness, anxiety, and other negative feelings for an extended period of time. The causes of Depression may include reproductive hormones, response to stress, unique social pressures, etc.

Symptoms of Depression in women

According to studies, the common symptoms of Depression in women include the following.

  • Anxiety, sadness, and feeling of desolation

  • Pessimistic attitude

  • Hopelessness

  • Irritability and anger attacks

  • Sense of guilt and worthlessness

  • Losing interest in daily chores

  • Sense of displeasure in hobbies

  • Trouble in concentration, memory

  • Unable to make decisions

  • Suicidal thoughts

  • Self-harming thoughts

Besides the mental symptoms, there are physical symptoms of Depression too. Here’s a list.

  • Persistent fatigue and low energy

  • Sleep disorders like oversleeping or insomnia

  • Feeling of restlessness

  • Unintentional weight loss or gain due to loss of appetite or overeating

  • Pains and aches all over body

  • Headaches

  • Digestive issues

What causes Depression in Women?

The following factors may contribute to causing Depression in women.

  • Women's moods are affected by hormonal changes in their bodies. Several disorders, such as premenstrual dysphoric disorder, postpartum Depression, and postmenopausal Depression, can cause women to feel depressed.

  • Women tend to value their relationships more than men do, so when a conflict arises, women can feel the effects more deeply.

  • A family history of Depression may enhance the propensity of developing Depression for the upcoming generation.

  • Deformities in the chemical levels of the brain, such as serotonin or neurotransmitters, may result in Depression in Women.

  • Certain events in life, such as the death of loved ones, physical and sexual abuse in childhood, isolation, losing a job, and separation from near and dear ones, can cause Depression in women.

  • Persistent physical illness and pain may cause Depression. For example, physical anomalies like cancer, Parkinson’s disease, or diabetes may cause Depression in Women.

  • Sources reveal that thyroid conditions are linked to Bipolar Depression and Clinical Anxiety.

  • At the time of perimenopause, the hormones alter erratically. Estrogen and progesterone levels may drop overall. These changes may affect brain chemistry. Estrogen enhances the effect of serotonin and norepinephrine, which help regulate mood. When estrogen levels decline, it may result in severe mood swings and Depression.

Types of Depression in Women

Depression can occur at different stages in life for women. Here are the types of Depression.

1. Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder (PMDD)

PMDD is an acute form of Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS). It causes extreme mood swings. The symptoms generally occur before the days of the period start and gradually diminish after getting the period or when it ends. The symptoms include depressed mood, irritability or anger issues, anxiety, inability to concentrate, persistent fatigue, loss of interest in daily chores, appetite change, breast tenderness, and bloating.

2. Major Depressive Disorder (MDD)

Also known as Clinical Depression, it is a significant medical condition that impacts many aspects of your life. Starting from affecting mood and behaviour to several physical activities, it can also affect appetite and sleep. However, medications and psychotherapy can effectively treat MDD and help manage its symptoms.

3. Persistent Depressive Disorder (PDD)

Persistent Depressive Disorder, also called Dysthymia, is a chronic form of Depression that lasts for at least two years. The symptoms may include the following.

  • Losing interest in daily chores

  • Feeling of hopelessness

  • Low energy

  • Low self-esteem

  • Lack of concentration

4. Postpartum Depression (PPD)

Pregnancy can cause hormone imbalances and lead to Depression. Postpartum Depression occurs after childbirth. Those who develop Postpartum Depression are susceptible to Clinical Depression later in life. Symptoms of PPD may include loss of appetite, insomnia, irritability, exhaustion, and difficulty connecting with the child.

5. Psychotic Depression

This form of Depression resembles all the symptoms of major depressive disorder, along with episodes of hallucinations or delusions.

6. Bipolar Disorder

It is a mental health condition in which significant mood swings occur. Women having bipolar disorder may also have a higher risk of developing conditions such as thyroid disorder, migraine, anxiety disorder, and obesity. Symptoms of bipolar disorder are sad feelings or restlessness, increased appetite accompanied by weight gain, sleep problems, suicidal thoughts, and difficulty concentrating. 

7. Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)

Also known as seasonal Depression, symptoms of SAD prevail during a certain time period of the year. Although it is common during winter, it can come up in spring and summer too. The symptoms of SAD may include Depression, fatigue, feeling of hopelessness, and social withdrawal.

Treatment options available for Depression in women

When you're depressed, your friends and family can be a great source of comfort. They can help you remember why it's important to take care of yourself, and they can be an important part of the process. If you're struggling with Depression, your doctor may perform a physical exam and run some tests to rule out other conditions. The treatment options available for Depression in women include the following. 

1. Medication

Doctors may recommend medicines and antidepressants to women with Depression initially. Some of the recommended antidepressants are listed down. 

  • Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors

  • Selective serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors

  • Atypical and tricyclic antidepressants

  • Serotonin-dopamine activity modulators

  • Monoamine oxidase inhibitors

These medications may help overcome moderate to severe Depression.

2. Psychotherapy

This therapy involves counselling with a psychologist. The psychologist may help you cope with negativity and deal with life in a better manner. Besides, these sessions help you obtain an interest in life and build good relationships with others. Psychologists may help you achieve goals in life without thinking of failures in the past. Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT) and Interpersonal Therapy (IPT) are two psychotherapies that have been proven to be effective during the treatment of Depression.

3. Electroconvulsive Therapy (ECT)

Patients with severe Depression may not respond to medication. ECT is considered an effective treatment in such cases. Doctors administer electric currents into their brains under general anaesthesia, which impacts the neurotransmitters to treat Depression.

4. Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS)

It is a non-invasive treatment that involves the stimulation of brain nerves with magnetic pulses. It is also given to those women who do not respond to medication. During this procedure, the doctor places a magnetic coil on the scalp or forehead of the patient. This magnetic coil provides magnetic pulses that pass through the brain, stimulating the brain’s nerve cells.

5. Natural remedies

To deal with Depression, you need to come up with a wellness toolbox. List out the things that are quick mood boosters and try implementing them every day.

  • Spend time with nature

  • Read a book

  • Watch a good programme on TV

  • Take a long bath

  • Play with a pet

  • Talk to family and friends 

  • Listen to your favourite music

  • Seek social support

  • Practice yoga and meditation

  • Exercise regularly to boost your mood

  • Get a daily dose of sunlight

  • Eat a Depression-curbing diet such as B vitamin, omega-3 fatty acids, and iron

  • Pull out all negative thoughts

  • Aim for enough sleep

Frequently Asked Questions

Here’s a list of common questions and their answers related to Depression in women.

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What are the different types of Depression in women?

Some most common types of Depression in women are as follows.

  • Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder (PMDD)

  • Major Depressive Disorder (MDD)

  • Persistent Depressive Disorder (PDD) or dysthymia

  • Postpartum Depression (PPD)

  • Psychotic Depression

  • Bipolar Disorder

  • Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)

What are the treatment options available for Depression in Women?

Medications, psychotherapy, Electroconvulsive Therapy (ECT), and Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS) are some of the effective therapies available for Depression in women.

Sources

Disclaimer: The content on this page is generic and shared only for informational and explanatory purposes. It is based on several secondary sources on the internet. Please consult a doctor before making any health-related decisions.

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