Gender Differences and How Depression Affects Women
There are psychological diagnoses that seem to affect one gender or another at a greater rate. Men have a much larger chance of contracting schizophrenia than do women. On the other hand, it seems that there is a significant link between women and depression. This infers that the incidence of clinical depression occurs in women at a much greater rate than it does with men.
It is not clear why twice as many women suffer depression over men, but there has much study regarding this issue. It is thought that due to different roles that the genders occupy, differences in hormonal and physical characteristics, expectation dissimilarities, and the increased incidence of abuse toward women that they are at greater risk for depression. These are but a few of the many reasons that there is a significant link between women and depression.
Recognizing and Combatting the Symptoms of Depression
When a professional talks about any clinical diagnosis they are not referring to that which naturally occurs when an individual experiences a modest downturn in emotion. How depression affects women in a clinical sense is that it causes significant impairment in every aspect of a person's life. This can lead to employment difficulties, mar home life, and spoil relationships. If a person is diagnosed with one of the range of disorders associated with depression it is a lifelong illness. The cure is constant personal monitoring of symptoms, counseling, and often medication. Some people require constant medication, but certain types of depressive symptoms (such as Seasonal Affective Disorder - SAD) only require periodic drug therapy.
Diagnosing depression in women has been made easier with the guidance of the Diagnostic and Statistics Manual (DSM) which is the Bible of all mental health professionals. The DSM list depressive symptoms as:
- Sleeping too much or too little
- Eating too much or too little
- Fatigue nearly every day
- Depressive feeling almost all the time as reported by others.
- Marked disinterest in normal activities
- Psychomotor agitation or suspension nearly every day
- Excessive feelings of worthlessness nearly every day
- Inability to concentrate
- Frequent suicidal ideation
Source: American Psychiatric Association. Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders. 4th edition. Washington, DC: American Psychiatric Association, 1994.
Depression and Women
The first issue is that many people do not get the treatment they need. Although, women are much more likely to seek medical advice and get regular checkups than men, they still discount as minor the symptoms that keep them functioning at a constant low level. Clinical depression affects up to 18 million people, and proper treatment would eliminate almost all (approximately 80%) of the symptoms.
No one welcomes the stigma that is associated with a mental health diagnosis, but the alternative is living a life that is less than ideal. With proper treatment depression in women is easy to combat. The major methods that are followed include:
- Cognitive Behavioral Therapy: this is a specific type of counseling that focuses on the thoughts of the individual.
- The counselor attempts to focus on the negative attitudes that are prevalent in sufferers of depression and helps the person recognize and restate those thoughts.
- Hypnosis: this allows the trained professional to help a person recognize antecedents to their depression.
- Drug Therapy: this usually occurs concurrent to some counseling regimen and includes any number of anti-depressants.
- Relaxation Techniques: since anxiety and depression often occur together, this allows the person to slow down their thought and physiological processes and experience a calmer reality.
There are many other types of therapy that may be used to assist some one who experiences clinical depression, but these are the main types used. There are more holistic approaches available for those who wish to explore natural treatments.