Depression: Women may be more at risk

Life is full of ups and downs, but when one feels sad, empty, or hopeless most of the time for at least two weeks or those feelings keep  him/her from his/her regular activities, he/she may have depression.

Depression is a serious mental health condition and women are almost twice as likely as men to have symptoms of depression.

It  is a mental health illness when someone feels sad (including crying often), empty, or hopeless most of the time (or loses interest in or takes no pleasure in daily activities) for at least two weeks. It affects a person’s ability to work, go to school, or have relationships with friends and family. . 

What causes depression?

There is no single cause of depression. Also, different types of depression may have different causes. There are many reasons why a woman may have depression:

  • Family history. Women with a family history of depression may be more at risk
  • Brain changes. The brains of people with depression look and function differently from those of people who don’t have depression.
  • Chemistry. In someone who has depression, parts of the brain that manage mood, thoughts, sleep, appetite, and behavior may not have the right balance of chemicals.
  • Hormone levels. Changes in the female hormones estrogen and progesterone during the menstrual cycle, pregnancy, postpartum period, perimenopause, or menopause may all raise a woman’s risk for depression. Having a miscarriage can also put a woman at higher risk for depression.
  • Stress. Serious and stressful life events, or the combination of several stressful events, such as trauma, loss of a loved one, a bad relationship, work responsibilities, caring for children and ageing parents, abuse, and poverty, may trigger depression in some people.
  • Medical problems. Dealing with a serious health problem, such as stroke, heart attack, or cancer, can lead to depression.
  •  Pain. Women who feel emotional or physical pain for long periods are much more likely to develop depression. The pain can come from a chronic (long-term) health problem, accident, or trauma such as sexual assault or abuse.

Symptoms of depression

Not all people with depression have the same symptoms. Some people might have only a few symptoms, while others may have many. 

  • Feeling sad, “down,” or empty, including crying often
  • Feeling hopeless, helpless, worthless, or useless
  • Loss of interest in hobbies and activities that you once enjoyed
  • Decreased energy
  • Difficulty staying focused, remembering, or making decisions
  • Sleeplessness, early morning awakening, or oversleeping and not wanting to get up
  • Lack of appetite, leading to weight loss, or eating to feel better, leading to weight gain
  • Thoughts of hurting oneself
  • Thoughts of death or suicide
  • Feeling easily annoyed, bothered, or angered
  • Constant physical symptoms that do not get better with treatment, such as headaches, upset stomach, and pain that doesn’t go away

Depression is a serious mental illness that can be successfully treated with therapy and  medicines. But medicines and natural treatments can have side effects. It’s best to talk to a doctor about treatment for depression.

Does exercise help treat depression?

For some people, yes. Researchers think that exercise may work better than no treatment at all to treat depression. They also think that regular exercise can lower your risk of getting depression and help many depression symptoms get better. Information courtesy: