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Depression In Women

Posted by Dr. Dhaarna Bhardwaj
Published on : 2020-01-01

Are you showing a loss of interest or withdrawal from activities that you once looked forward to? Like watching your favourite web series? Or missing out on movies you would have killed for? There is a chance then, of you suffering from depression. India is world's most depressed country with 200 million people suffering from it.

As per the National Mental Health Survey of India (2015-16), one in 20 people over 18 years of age have ever suffered (at least once in their lifetime) from depression amounting to a total of over 45 million persons with depression in 2015. Depression is twice to thrice more likely to be diagnosed in women than in men. Genetic vulnerability, personal life circumstances or experiences, biological factors are some factors which are associated with higher risk of depression.

What are the Symptoms of Depression?

When should you seek help-

  • Persistent sadness with crying spells.
  • Feeling guilty, helpless or hopeless.
  • Loss of interest or pleasure in activities or hobbies enjoyed previously/ Increased restlessness or decrease in activity.
  • Difficulty falling asleep or sleeping too much.
  • Irritability, annoyance or anger.
  • Lack of energy and feeling fatigued.
  • Difficulty in remembering things or concentrating.
  • Change in appetite and/ or weight gain or loss.
  • Physical aches and pains.
  • Suicidal thoughts and feeling worthless.

These symptoms are often understood as lack of will power or lack of motivation to do work or feeling lethargic. It is not necessary that all these symptoms are experienced, some may have only few of these while others may have many of these symptoms.

How depression affects women?

Women often are used to do multitasking, they not only handle household responsibilities like caring for children, elderly and doing chores but they also work outdoors feeling constantly overwhelmed with workload.

Also, women who have undergone emotional or physical abuse sometime in their life are more likely to experience depression. Often women also have to deal with interference or frequent conflicts with in-laws. Some may also have troubled marriage, or alcoholic partner and an emotionally unavailable partner who neither shares any household workload or play any role in parenting leaving the wife completely stressed out. All these social circumstances and stressors additionally make the women susceptible to higher rates of depression.

There are different stages of life when a female becomes more vulnerable to depression. They are:-

Adolescence– Often during the adolescence, mood swings due to hormonal surge are quite common. Girls who experience significant stress due to Identity Issues, body image, disturbed home environment or increased academic pressure may be at increasing risk of depression.

Premenstrual Period- Some females may experience severe Premenstrual Syndrome (bloating, abdominal cramps, irritability, anxiety, tender breasts) leading to Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder which may include feeling suicidal and often significantly impair the life.

Pregnancy and Post Delivery- Often depression is seen in women during pregnancy or after giving birth to the baby due to major hormonal fluctuations that influence mood. It may affect those more who already had some mood or anxiety issues. Increased stress due to lack of sleep, feeling inability to take responsibility of baby, feeding issues, changes in body shape may lead to depression in around 11% of women during this period.

Perimenopause and Menopause- Risk of depression may increase during menopause as the hormone levels fluctuate erratically. This may affect any woman especially when menopause happened early in life or after surgical removal of ovary/uterus. Highly stressful life, empty nest syndrome, sexual difficulty because of menopause, weight issues, sleep disturbances, history of anxiety/depression also are factors which contribute to depression.

Beating Depression

Psychotherapy is a powerful treatment approach. Depression can be treated with approaches like cognitive behavioural therapy which works basically on thoughts and feelings and helps you to cope with everyday stressors. Some of other suggestions are:-

Sleep– Maintaining a good sleep hygiene by consistently following a bedtime routine.

Diet- Healthy foods help to enhance your overall mood. Your daily plate should include healthy fatty acids like Omega “ 3s and Omega “ 6s in your diet.

Relationships- Spending time with family and friends might be helpful in gaining different perspective about things that might have been bothering you.

Exercise- Though when feeling depressed exercise is the last thing which may come to mind but when you exercise, your body receives positive Get out of the bed and choose any physical activity.

Yoga & Meditation- Yoga and Meditation have been very beneficial in treating depression when used in conjunction with psychotherapy and/or medicine. Regularly practising deep breathing help to achieve peaceful mind and healthy body.

Depression may seem to be overwhelming but even severe depression can be successfully treated. Remember,depression is very common and treatable. Getting treated for mental health issues has been considered as taboo in India but times have changed. Many celebrities have openly spoken up about their struggles including Deepika Padukone and Rashmi Desai. If you think you are depressed, don't hesitate to seek help. We are here to help. Contact us at Pratiiti - 8058066661.

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