If you notice a significant change in your mood, sleeping habits, or diet, you may be experiencing one of the many common symptoms of depression.
Here are five common symptoms of depression in women.
5 Common Symptoms of Depression in Women
The Anxiety and Depression Association of America reports depression is the leading cause of disability in America for those aged 15 to 44, with over 16 million suffering from the disorder. They also claim it is much more prevalent in women than men.
The Journal of Psychiatry Neuroscience lists several reasons as to why depression is more prevalent in women than men. One reason is that women tend to focus more on internalized factors, like relationships, while men may focus more on external factors such as career and money.
Other triggers are biological or hormonal. Women, from puberty on, must deal with premenstrual hormones. Pregnancy and post-natal hormones can also cause women to feel depressed, known as post-partum depression or the baby blues.
Later in life, women go through perimenopause, menopause and post-menopause, all of which can lead to hormonal issues that are associated with depressive symptoms.
Other reasons women have symptoms of depression can include genetic, psychological and social factors.
1. Troubled Sleep
The National Sleep Foundation conducted a study that found women only get about five or six hours of sleep each night, when they need eight to nine. They also found women have more difficulty than men falling asleep and staying asleep.
Sleep is important. It is during this time our bodies rest, but our brain is active with restoration, getting the body ready for the day ahead.
A lack of sleep can lead to irritable moods, lack of concentration, and poor eating habits, all of which are associated with depression. Insomnia, or the inability to fall asleep or stay asleep, can disrupt functions of the brain and body.
It is important to pay attention to the amount of sleep you get. Too much sleep can also be a sign of depression. Being overly tired, spending most of the day napping or lying in bed, are common symptoms of depression.
2. Little Interest in Activities
If you notice yourself, or someone you know, turning down the opportunity to join in activities you once enjoyed greatly, this may be an underlying symptom of depression.
Often, when people experience depression, they lose interest in and even avoid participating in activities. They may say they are too tired, or too busy, but what may be going on is a bout with depression.
3. Poor Eating Habits
The way a person eats can be a direct indication of how they are feeling. Some people, when feeling depressed, lose their appetite and avoid food whenever possible. Others overeat, indulging in junk food, even when they are not hungry.
Certain foods you eat can create a spike in dopamine levels, giving a brief rush of a rewarding feeling. This is very temporary however, and can lead a person to continue overeating, trying to feel good again.
Whether a person is eating too little or too much, gaining weight or losing weight without trying, this may be a sign that something bigger is going on, possibly depression.
4. Changes in Mood
Outward expressions of anger and irritability can be symptoms of depression. Many times, even the slightest irritation can trigger an anger outburst from someone struggling with depression. Lashing out verbally or physically are ways a person with depression might handle her emotions.
A depressed person’s emotions may swing from anger to sorrowful to happy. She may even feel a lack of control over her emotions. Sometimes people can have a difficult time regulating destructive thinking and behaviors.
5. Feeling Despair
Depression can make people feel as if it is their fault for the problems in their personal or professional life. Women, especially, tend to take on the blame for their depression, when in fact it may be a chemical imbalance.
Depression can feel so overwhelming at times that some people may want to escape. This does not always mean they want to die, but it can. Therefore, listening to the words someone says is very important. If you or someone you know talks about ending their life, they need immediate help.
Some may not be suicidal, but may feel as if the world would be better off without them. This too is a sign of depression that needs immediate attention.
Getting someone to meet with a mental health professional is one thing you can do to help a woman of any age overcome depressive symptoms.
There is an abundance of treatment options today for women struggling with the symptoms of depression. The first step is to meet with a mental health professional to determine which type of depression is causing the symptoms.
Related: Should I See a Therapist?
Depression can be diagnosed as major depressive disorder, postpartum depression, persistent depressive disorder, seasonal affective disorder, or premenstrual depression. Depression in women may also be situational. Meaning, it could be directly related to the living environment or relationships in which they are involved.
Treatments that have proven to be beneficial include cognitive behavioral therapy in one-on-one sessions with a therapist. Family therapy is also a great treatment, since one person’s depression can affect the whole family.
Medications may be a recommendation from your therapist. If so, your therapist will refer you to a psychiatrist for an evaluation to determine which type of medicine will benefit you best. Light therapy and other alternative treatment methods, such as meditation and yoga, are a great way to overcome symptoms of depression.
In conclusion, it is important to know depressive symptoms are common, especially in women. This means millions of women are experiencing symptoms each day. Some may have mood swings, some may cry for no reason, and others may express anger.
All symptoms of depression should be taken seriously. Therapy has proven to reverse many symptoms of depression, it is important to reach out for help.
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