Everyone has felt blue at some point in life. It’s unavoidable. However, if you feel miserable most of the time, like the world has lost much of its meaning, you may be suffering from depression.
Depression is especially common among women. In fact, women are twice as likely as men to be depressed at some point in life.
What is Depression?
Depression is basically persistent feelings of sadness, lowness, and other negative feelings. These are so serious that they interfere with a person’s ability to function properly in day to day life. If you’re depressed, you may not want to be around other people and may tend to be withdrawn. Some women may turn to certain sources of comfort, and may be suicidal. It is because of the last reason especially that depression should be taken seriously; depression that results in suicidal thoughts is very dangerous and can eventually lead to loss of life.
What Causes Depression in Women?
While the causes of depression vary between from one person to another, for women certain triggers are more common than others. Among the causes of depression in women are:
- Hormonal changes before or during menstruation, pregnancy, and menopause, or after giving birth (“baby blues”). The ups and downs of women’s moods during these times are well known, but usually depression during these periods lift after the hormones settle down. Occasionally though, depression due to hormonal changes can be long-lasting.
- Stress- Prolonged high amounts of stress can turn into depression, and this is worrying as it is hard for a woman to stay calm in modern life. Juggling careers, marriage, children, and life in general is not easy, and this stress can easily cause chronic depression.
- The tendency of women to ruminate on problems and negative feelings longer. Women tend to talk about their negative feelings and share often, but this sometimes indirectly causes them to hold on to those feelings longer. This, when done excessively, can result in a woman getting depressed.
- A traumatic event that has a major impact on a woman’s life. This is an obvious reason that can affect men and women alike.
If you think that you are depressed or if you have been diagnosed with clinical depression, you should try to figure out the root cause. Resolving the root cause should help alleviate the depression it causes.
What are the Symptoms of Depression in Women?
Men and women tend to show symptoms of depression differently, because the way they tackle negative feelings is different. Women exhibit the some or all of the following symptoms when they are depressed:
- Oversleeping constantly, feeling like they never want to get out of bed, or insomnia
- Constant withdrawal from social contact
- Prolonged feelings of sadness, guilt, or worthlessness
- Suicidal thoughts that come and go or which are persistent
- Overeating constantly, or a substantial loss of appetite
- Loss of interest in activities that used to make them happy
- Restlessness, irritability, or anxiousness
- Headaches, cramps, or other bodily pains that do not have any other cause (they do not become better with conventional treatment)
- Constantly speaking of their despair or negative feelings with friends and family
Because most women show some form of depression during some point of their life, it can be easy to brush a bout of depression off as a temporary thing. However, you should not ignore your feelings if your depression persists for a long time, such as beyond a few weeks continuously.
What Do I Do if I am Depressed?
If you think that you have a persistent case of depression, then there are a number of things you can do to help you get diagnosed or to ease your emotional pain.
- The first thing you should do is keep track of when the depression started. This should especially be the case if your body has undergone hormonal changes during the time that it started (menstruation, pregnancy, menopause, or starting birth control pills). You should also try to keep a journal if your depression has persisted beyond a week or two, to see what is in your thoughts and if the depression gets worse during particular periods.
- Next, try to find someone to talk to so that you can get some of the pain out of your system. Talk about your feelings, but do not dwell on the same topic for hours. Dwelling on your feelings can worsen your depression instead of helping it.
- Also, get out and do the things you enjoy. Don’t stop engaging in your hobbies; they can help you keep your mind off your feelings for a while.
- Also, be sure to go outside and get some sunlight every day, as this can help you feel better emotionally.
- Practicing some relaxation techniques can also help with your depression.
If you have done all that to no avail, see a doctor to check your hormone levels or other functions of your body to see if anything is amiss, causing you to become depressed. If the issue is indeed physical, your doctor will prescribe the corresponding treatment for that issue.
If the problem is not physical but emotional (e.g. if you went through a traumatic event, or if you are stressed), your doctor may recommend a therapist to you instead. Talking to a therapist and sorting through your emotional tangle can certainly help you lift your depression over time.
Being depressed is nothing to be ashamed of, so if you are depressed, don’t add shame to your list of negative feelings. Instead, talk about your issues to your loved ones and get professional help if needed. You are not making up your feelings, so take them seriously. There may be something bigger brewing under the surface.