Depression can come in many different shapes and forms. Not only is depression more common in women, but the pattern of symptoms and causes are also unique from depression in men. Different reproductive hormones play a role in why depression expresses itself differently, but there are also social pressures women face that are unique as well.
Symptoms of Depression in Women
Although many of the signs and symptoms of depression are the same for men and women, there are some distinct differences. For example, women are more likely to experience atypical depression than men. Atypical depression means that instead of sleeping less, eating less, and losing weight like is normally seen, the opposite is true. Symptoms will instead include sleeping excessively, eating more than usual, and gaining weight. Seasonal Affective Disorder, a type of depression that worsens during the winter months when there is a lack of sunlight, is also more prevalent in women. Other distinct differences between depression symptoms in men and women include:
- Women tend to blame themselves, while men tend to blame others.
- Women tend to feel anxious and scared, while men tend to feel guarded and suspicious.
- Women tend to use food, love, and friends to self-medicate, while men tend to use alcohol, TV, and sex.
- Women tend to feel nervous and slowed down, while men tend to feel agitated and restless.
- Women tend to avoid conflicts as much as possible, while men tend to create conflicts.
- Women tend to feel worthless, apathetic, and sad, while men tend to feel irritable, ego-inflated, and angry.
Causes of Depression in Women
Despite racial, ethnic, and economic divides, women are about twice as likely to suffer from depression compared to men. The reasons for this are explained by psychological, social, and biological factors. These include:
- Postpartum depression
- Premenstrual problems
- Health problems
- Marital or relationship problems
- Money problems
- Death of a loved one
- Family responsibilities
- Losing or changing a job
Additionally, women are more likely to experience depression because of psychological reasons. Women tend to focus on negative feelings by crying and trying to figure out why they are depressed. Men are more likely to distract themselves when they are feeling depressed. Ruminating on depression as women do has been shown to make depression worse, while finding distractions as men commonly do has been shown to reduce depression symptoms.
Studies also show women are also more likely to become depressed due to overwhelming stress at work, school, or home. Also, women respond differently to stress than men by releasing more hormones during these periods, which can worsen depression symptoms.
Body image issues are also something that begins to affect girls from a very young age. This has been shown to increase the risk for depression in women as early as adolescence and puberty.
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