Depression goes well beyond a bad day or two. For some women, depression is a constant state of sadness, indifference, or hopelessness. Scientists have recognized family history and genetics to play a role in the depression rate for women versus men. However, women also face more triggers than men, including hormonal changes, psychological stress, and societal pressures. Chronic stress brought on by unique challenges women face can also lead to depression.
Understanding stressful life experiences
Women go through significant life experiences. Menstruation, pregnancy, and menopause can cause side effects that may trigger depression. Women also navigate miscarriages, infertility, and breast, ovarian, and cervical cancers. Stressful life experiences are often internalized, leading to isolation and hopelessness.
All about hormones
Hormonal changes can trigger mood fluctuations. Hormonal changes may not cause depression but can be a significant contributing factor. Women’s peak onset of depressive disorders is during reproductive years, ages 25 to 44. The female hormones estrogen and progesterone fluctuate during menstruation and pregnancy. These changes can affect neurotransmitters and circadian systems, which may cause mood and anxiety disorders.
Breaking societal norms
Societal norms and expectations also affect the rates of depression between men and women. Some women still face the societal pressures of marriage and having kids at a younger age. Despite the changes in gender roles, stay-at-home moms are still highly undervalued by society. On the other hand, women who pursue careers face discrimination and pay gaps. Coping with these disparities is complex and can result in depression.
Overcoming depression can be difficult, but there are several steps women can take to improve mental health. Seeking help from a mental health professional is often needed. In some cases, a therapist may recommend prescription medication. Maintaining a solid support group of family and friends helps reduce feelings of isolation. Consulting with a hormone specialist may be necessary to identify and treat underlying hormonal issues. In addition, maintaining a healthy diet, adequate exercise, and stress management techniques can provide long-term benefits.
Your mental health matters
Caring for mental health is vital, regardless of gender. Depression can impact all aspects of life. Improving mental health promotes a stronger coping ability, a positive self-image, healthier relationships, and more productivity. Women play a vital role in society and are more prone to depression. Identifying the problem and seeking help can save lives.