forms of depression

Are women doomed to be more depressed than men?

by The Anti Depression Team on


We’ve all heard of the popular belief that major moodswings that are expressed by women are due to them being on their period. Well, does this hold truth and make them more depressed as well?

Hormones

The huge hormonal shifts that are experienced by women do place women at higher risk of being depressed as compared to men. In fact, women are twice as likely to experience certain forms of depression as compared to men. This disparity in likelihood of getting depressed begins at the beginning of puberty, where the hormonal changes begin. After forty-four, though, the gap narrows but again becomes more pronounced after the age of sixty five.

Due to the complex hormonal systems present within the female body, women experience mood shifts monthly during their menstrual cycle. At times, the effects can be mild and short-lived but sometimes, but this natural occurrence can leave women feeling severely depressed. In fact, it is common for women to get depressed due to major hormone changes such as menopause and childbirth.

Menopause is a time when estrogen and progesterone cycles in a woman’s bodies begin to be thrown off and start fluctuating erratically as ovarian production ends. Physicians and women alike believe that this is what causes women to be depressed.

Although this relationship is not confirmed scientifically, estrogen is believed to be able to help milder forms of depression. In saying so, however, estrogen is not enough as a standalone treatment and is often prescribed alongside progesterone. Ironically, this dose of progesterone may even worsen the mood of some depressed women instead of stabilizing them.

It is believed, by most physicians, that even though birth control pills alter the hormonal levels in a woman’s body, this does not increase the risks of being depressed. This is disputed, though, as mood alterations may not be brought up as the changes are often unnoticeable and gradual, causing the depressed women to not be able to pick them up or just easily brush them aside.

Power

It has been believed and debated for a long time that the power status of women compared to men is a contributing factor to the emotional distress felt by women. Many women have low self-esteem and self-worth due to this deprivation of power and become depressed as a result.

Also, some cultures value masculine traits rather than feminine traits, limiting education and employment opportunities for women. This may lead to the inability of women to seek treatment when they are depressed. This point is disputed, however, as some experts believe that it is due to western bias against other cultures that choose to shelter women.

There is evidence that marriage in western culture that marriage is a stressor that causes women to be depressed. The National Mental Health Association reports that there is a greater likelihood for women who are fulltime housewives who take care of their small children to get depressed as compared to the rest of the female population.

Characteristics and treatment

It has been observed that women place a higher importance on interpersonal relationships than men do. It is believed that women treasure and require greater emotional connection than that required by men and in that way, places them at a higher risk of being depressed. This is due to the inability to fully control the relationships held by the women and the possibility of getting extremely hurt and depressed due to the severance of ties.

The responses to being depressed vary across genders. Men generally take control and find ways to correct the problem, searching for distraction, be it through physical activities, recreation or work. This gives men a feeling of control and responsibility for their own discomfort.

Women, however, limit this to themselves. When depressed, they brood and dwell over their problems, leading to greater anxiety and related issues like sleep problems, panic attacks and eating disorders. The frequency of such issues is more than that of depressed men. Women generally feel that they are unable to control their situations and blame themselves for being unable to do so.

Medication

Depressed women benefit from antidepressant medications to a lesser extent than depressed men and exhibit greater side-effects as well. This is due to the physical differences between men and women in handling the medication. These differences include hormone shifts, amount of fat deposits and gastrointestinal differences.

With all these issues, it does appear that women are more prone to being depressed and have to cope with them more than men do. However, whether or not women are doomed to always be more depressed than men? That is up to you to decide.