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Why women are more prone to depressive illnesses.

Monday, May 8th 2017. | Depression

Women are almost two times more likely to be diagnosed with depression than men. There are several different factors for this. These include developmental, reproductive, hormonal, genetic, biological, and social factors.

Before the age of 11 the rates of depression among girls and boys are almost the same.  Between the ages of eleven and thirteen the rate of depression in girls rises dramatically as compared to boys. By the age of fifteen the rate of depression in females becomes double as compared to males.Depression

This increased risk for depression carries on after the teenage years, which signifies that a woman remains at a higher risk for depressive illness than a man throughout her entire adult life. Why is this so?

Every month a woman’s body undergoes changing levels of hormones. Oestrogen and progesterone rise and fall according to the period cycle. This fluctuation of hormone levels  generally causes the mood swings that women are famous for. It is only the internal hormonal shifts that cause the symptoms of premenstrual syndrome (PMS), such as bloating, irritability, fatigue, and emotional reactivity. For many women, PMS is mild but for some women, symptoms are more severe and disabling.

Then there are major changes during pregnancy and after delivery. Often new mothers experience depression or the “baby blues.” This is a normal reaction that tends to subside within a few weeks. However, for some the depression carries on and is severe and disabling. This condition is called postpartum depression.

Perhaps the hormonal shifts makes the brain more susceptible for depression in some women. Women are also more susceptible to hypothyroidism and hypothyroidism is in itself a factor that can cause depression.Depression in old women

So is the biology of women responsible for the increased tendency for depression? Maybe. However, there are psychological and social reasons too.

Women are more likely to be self critical, be more sensitive to rejection and criticism,
more likely to feel they have less control of what happens to them. They tend to experience feelings of hopelessness and worthlessness.

Women are more likely to keep on and on thinking when they have a problem. They may feel sad and apathetic. They may worry incessantly.  They may indulge in feelings of guilt and self reproach over real and imagined issues. Relationship problems are likely to affect them more. All this tends to gravitate them towards anxiety attacks and depression.

A dissatisfaction with a real or imagined body issue is often the trigger for depression in young adolescent girls and even later.

Social factors are also important in women’s depression. Women are expected to be more supportive and helpful to others, and generally to take care of husband, children and extended family. Women in general are taken for granted, undervalued and unappreciated for all that they do.  The physical and psychological demands of living up to the roles of homemaker and career woman can be exhausting and sometimes overwhelm them.Depression in women

At work women are paid less than their male counterparts and are more likely to be physically or sexually abused. Experiencing discrimination at work or not reaching important goals, losing or changing a job, retirement, or being posted away from family can all cause stress.

Stress can also be triggered by problems in housing, personal relationships, medical, safety and financial issues.

Health problems such as chronic illness, injury, or disability can lead to depression in women, as can crash dieting or quitting smoking. Issues relating to menstruation, to pregnancy such as miscarriage, unwanted pregnancy, and infertility can also play a role in depression.

The death of a loved one or other stressful life event that leaves one feeling useless, helpless, alone, or profoundly sad are usually the cause of depressions in the elderly as women usually outlive their male partners.

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