Depression in women and Life Stages

Depression in women is twice as common as in men. Female gender is itself a risk factor for depression.  Women are also vulnerable to depression owing to the various stressful phases of their lives. Women can experience depression at any age but usually, it starts in their twenties. 

Depression in women during menstrual cycle

It is also known as Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS.

Some women have depressive symptoms during their menstrual cycle. They have mood changes just before the start of their menstrual cycle. They remain irritable and may even feel sad. They also have a headache, body aches, and disturbed appetite. Life appears low during this time and they lose interest in their routine. This is called premenstrual syndrome or premenstrual dysphoric disorder. This usually lasts the duration of the menstrual cycle. Once the cycle is over they feel emotionally better.  Some women develop more severe and disabling symptoms of depression that interfere with their daily functioning.

Stressful life experiences make one vulnerable to depression.  

Puberty is a stressful time in life due to the emerging sexuality and identity issues among young women. It is also the peak of peer pressure along with parental and social expectations.

Depression in women during Pregnancy

Pregnancy is a stressful life event and makes women vulnerable to depression. Occasional mood swings are normal during pregnancy. However, a persistent feeling of sadness along with a lack of interest in life may indicate depression. Depression during pregnancy should be treated as it can affect the baby.  Support from the partner and family helps in fighting depression. Talk therapy can help you cope up with depression during pregnancy. Some antidepressants are safe in pregnancy and can treat your depression. 

Depression in women after Pregnancy

Majority of mothers have mood swings after the pregnancy.  They experience low mood along with weeping spells lasting up to two weeks and are called baby blues.  It is usually caused by the sudden role change experienced by the woman, from being pregnant to being a mother. Feelings of insecurity and inadequacy will predominate because the woman thinks that she is not yet ready to become a mother.

She has her own needs, having just finished giving birth, but being a mother would mean that she has to put the baby’s needs first. Some women have persistent low mood along with a lack of interest in life. They also feel unable to look after the newly born baby, have thoughts of guilt and worthlessness. They may have sleep disturbance and inability to take care of themselves. It is severe than baby blues and is called depression after pregnancy (postpartum depression). Read more on 7 things to do in depression after pregnancy

Depression and Menopause

Women near menopause are at risk of having depression partly due to the decreasing levels of estrogen in their body. Estrogen is linked to mood changes as it affects brain regions involved in maintaining the mood.  Estrogen patches may help some women in overcoming menopausal depression.

Treatment Options

Depression in women is treated depending on the nature and severity of the depression. 

Mild depression can be treated with counseling and talk therapy.  In Moderate depression antidepressants together with talk therapy have a better outcome. 

Depression during pregnancy is treated with counseling, talk therapy, and lifestyle changes. Some antidepressants are relatively safe in pregnancy and can be taken to treat moderate to severe depression. 

Electroconvulsive therapy is the treatment of choice in severe depression during or after pregnancy. 

Nowadays herbal treatment for depression is also quite famous.

Saint Johns Wort is a natural herb that has been proven to treat depression. 

Fish oil (Omega 3 fatty acids) is another natural supplement for treating depression. It contains fatty acids that have antidepressant effects.  It can be used to enhance the effects of antidepressants. 

S-adenosylmethionine (SAM-e) is another agent that has been shown to be beneficial in treatment-resistant depression.

A combination of the professional help in the form of medication and talk therapy provides the best outcomes. You can also consult with your doctor and add the supplements and self-help techniques to your recovery path.

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