Women suffer from depression twice as much as their male counterparts.
Life is full of ups and downs, but depression can make those lows seem insurmountable. Women often suffer from role strain as a result of conflicting and overwhelming responsibilities in their lives. Social pressures, however, may not be the only explanation for the higher depression rates: biological differences may play a fundamental role in making women more likely to suffer from the blues.
Your brain chemicals may be taking a beating:
- Premenstrual Changes: PMS affects the majority of women. Of those affected, 25-35% suffer from depression that occurs after ovulation. There is often a drop in serotonin, the mood-regulating hormone, a week or two before menstruation. A drop in thyroid hormones during this same time period can also trigger symptoms.
- The Pill: Oral contraceptives may also trigger depression in the same biochemical way that PMS will. Pills that are higher in progesterone are most likely to have a negative effect.
- Infertility treatments: As if the stress of seeking fertility care wasn’t enough, treatments that involve gonadotropins can have a significant impact on mood hormones.
- Hypothyroidism: Women are more likely to suffer from hypothyroidism. The main symptoms associated with it include fatigue, weight gain and depression.
- Perimenopause and Menopause: Women can start going through perimenopause in their early 40’s and it can last for 10 or more years. The unpredictable fluctuations in reproductive hormones can trigger unexplainable blues.
If depression is suspected, it is important to rule out that it is not caused by a side effect of medication such as birth control. Also, be sure that thyroid disease is ruled out. Since women tend to suffer from more side effects of antidepressant because of differences in fat composition, it’s important to only resort to medication when it is truly indicated.