Depression in Women

About 15 million Americans experience depression every year in the U.S. — and most of them are women.

Nearly one in four women is likely at some point to experience a major form of depression.

Depression can be triggered by life events (death of a loved one, a divorce or moving), caused by drug and alcohol abuse and illness, or it may be hereditary.

Women are twice as likely as men to experience depression — primarily because of hormones.

Women experience hormone level changes during puberty, pregnancy, menopause, after giving birth, while experiencing a miscarriage, and during the monthly menstrual cycle.

When depressed, women may feel sad, hopeless, guilty, helpless, worthless, and they may cry frequently.

Symptoms range from sleep problems, mood swings and weight issues to indecision and a loss of appetite and interest in things, including sex.

In the worst cases, women think about death or suicide.

Unfortunately, many women deny their symptoms or attribute them to being too busy, overworked or to changes in their lives.

Although these may contribute to depression, medical attention is required if symptoms are daily and last for more than a couple weeks.

In the days following the birth of a baby, some mothers suffer the “baby blues,” which include mood swings, trouble concentrating, sleep issues and loss of appetite.

The baby blues go away within 10 days after delivery, but postpartum depression occurs when symptoms worsen or persist.

Depression can be treated with counseling, medicine or both.

Counseling alone may help if the depression is mild.

It is important for a woman to inform her medical provider if she plans to get pregnant, is pregnant or recently gave birth.

Tips to Fight Depression

  • Don’t isolate yourself.
  • Don’t make major life decisions (for example, about separation or divorce).
  • Don’t blame yourself for your depression.
  • Avoid being discouraged if you don’t feel well right away after seeking help.
  • Don’t give up.
  • Exercise regularly.
  • Eat balanced meals.
  • Get plenty of rest.
  • Take your medicine as prescribed.
  • Go to counseling as often as your medical provider recommends.
  • Set small goals for yourself.
  • Encourage yourself.
  • Learn about depression and how it is treated.
  • Call your medical provider or local suicide crisis center immediately if you start thinking about suicide.