Women undergo many changes in their lives starting from the first cycle of menstruation, giving birth, and menopause. These life stages are usually accompanied by hormonal changes which come with several symptoms including depression. Learn more about how you can care and understand your loved one who may be suffering from the early signs of depression.
What is depression?
Depression is a medical illness which causes you to have persistent negative feelings which may interfere with your daily life. An estimated 16.2 million adults aged 18 and older in the U.S. had at least one major depressive episode in 2016. In the same study, adult females were found to be more vulnerable to suffering from depression compared to men. Moreover, the occurrence of depression was highest among adults aged 18-25 years old.
The signs of depression may vary for each individual and can be similar to some expressions of grief. The main difference between the two is that those who are diagnosed with depression have been suffering from its symptoms for long periods of time. Watch out for these warning signs if you feel like a family member or a friend is suffering from depression:
- Consistent feelings of anxiety and sadness
- Always feeling guilty and hopeless
- Persistent feeling of emptiness and fatigue
- Restlessness and difficulty in sleeping
- Loss of interest in usual activities and hobbies
- Unexplained body aches and pains
- Suicidal thoughts
- Inability to concentrate and make decisions
- Excessive crying
- Eating too little/too much
Depression in women
As mentioned, women are more likely to suffer from depression than men. Certain reasons like social factors, physical and hormonal changes which are unique to women may contribute to the higher numbers. Here are some examples of certain types of depression in women:
- Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder (PMDD) – this is a more severe form of premenstrual syndrome (PMS) and it affects a small percentage (around 3-9%) of women who may suffer from serious symptoms like anger, appetite changes, and suicidal thoughts.
- Perimenopause depression – the process that each woman undergoes while transitioning to menopause can be quite stressful due to its many symptoms which include temporary depression.
- Perinatal Depression – this form of depression in women may be mistaken for the usual “baby blues” which is very common in new moms. Perinatal depression may happen during or after pregnancy, lasts longer than a few weeks, and can make it difficult for moms to care for their baby.
- Postpartum depression – at least one out of seven women experience this kind of depression which can last months after giving birth. Some patients may even experience early signs of PPD before giving birth.
How you can help
There are many ways in which you can help a friend who has depression including:
- Create a safe space – you shouldn’t ask someone who may be experiencing depression to simply “snap out of it” or to just try “to be more positive.” Remember, suffering from depression is not a sign of weakness, but a medical condition that requires professional help.
- Seek medical advice – support your family member or friend to see a psychiatrist who is capable of giving a proper diagnosis. Never take matters into your own hands most especially if you are not a licensed health professional who has ample training and knowledge on the matter.
- Identify early symptoms – being a good listener and a keen observer can help you determine the first onset of depression. Educate yourself on the initial signs of depression and anxiety which can help you better understand your family/friend’s condition.
- Be physically present – your mere presence in your loved one’s life can greatly help them deal with the challenges that they may encounter on their road to recovery. Always opt for positive reinforcement and set certain boundaries if you need to.
If you feel that you are suffering from depression, seek support from your family and trusted friends. Book a session with a psychiatrist who may be able to guide you through your recovery process. Never take any form of medication without the proper prescription of a health professional. There are also hotlines where you can seek out support from professionals or if you simply need someone to talk to like HOPELINE (02) 8804.4673; (0917) 558.4673 or 2919 for Globe subscribers.