Depression has an extreme prominence in women, compared to men, and effects the lives of 15% of women in the U.S. It is quite common for women with depression to leave this disorder untreated, because women typically misread the signs and symptoms. An individual can experience depression at any age, however, it is more common in women between 40-years-old and 60-years-old. Many women blame their changing bodies for thoughts of depression, do to the change in hormone levels. However, there are several other factors that can cause depression.
Symptoms of depression can be mild to severe. The most common symptoms of depression in women include:
- Persistent sadness
- A lack of interest in daily activities
- Feeling worthless or hopeless
- Decreased energy
- Craving for carbohydrates
- Weight gain
- Less sleep
- Extreme fatigue
- Difficulty concentrating
- Ambiguious decision making
- Persistent headaches, pain, and digestive disorders
Some women may experience mood swings that shift between depression and mania. With the onset of puberty, the risk of developing depression increases considerably. Experts believe that women who experience a shift in hormone levels are likely to develop depression. A number of reproductive, genetic, and biological factors can also increase the risk of depression including:
- Family history
- History of mental disorders
- A lack of a mental support system
- Experiencing sexual abuse as a child
- Certain medications
If depression plays a part in an individual's family history, the individual is likely to develop depression between the ages of 15-years-old and 30-years-old. Family history is one of the top contributors for women developing this disorder.
The symptoms of depression for women is different compared to men who have depression:
- Depression in women may start early in life, and last for a longer period of time. The symptoms can recur in most cases.
- Women with depression are more likely to feel guilty and are tempted to commit suicide.
- Women will develop anxiety disorders that entail different phobias and can cause panic.
- Depressed women may abuse alcohol and drugs.
Medications for depression can cause different side effects, such as agitation, insomnia, and drowsiness.
Since depression is not solely defined as sadness, women should talk to a health care professional if any other symptoms of depression persist.