Women’s Mental Health
Depression among women is a universal malady that affects a woman’s mental and physical health. The symptoms of depression can vary and can last for days, months, or years. Statistics consistently suggest that depression strikes women at least twice as much as it does men, but this may be because women sufferers are more prone to obtain mental health treatment for depression than men. Women stricken with depression are more likely to develop eating disorders or suffer from anxiety disorders. Also, severe depression may be a symptom of deeper mental health issues such as schizophrenia.
Depression in women may be caused by hormonal imbalances, chemical imbalances in the brain, seasonal changes, hereditary factors, or overwhelming life circumstances. Among the many symptoms indicating depression, a woman may suspect that she is experiencing depression if she constantly feels fatigued, emotionally overwhelmed, anxious, sad, cries for no apparent reason, or has suicidal thoughts. Unintentional weight loss or weight gain is also known to accompany depression in women as some will lose all interest in eating or will overeat when in a depressed state.
Anorexia nervosa is often a result of women and girls feeling anxious and highly stressed. As women with anorexia continue to starve themselves, a lack of food leads many into bouts of major depression and creates a cycle of sometimes life-threatening psychological illnesses. Anorexia can lead to a host of other health issues such as heart disease and severe nerve damage.
Depression in women can also result in other eating disorders such as compulsive eating or binge eating. In each of these disorders, eating patterns are a symptom of depression, stress, and anxiety. For more information on eating disorders and the affect they have on a woman’s health, please visit this article on The Mayo Clinic’s website.
Anhedonia, also known as the loss of joy, is a core symptom of depression in women and is a serious health issue. The symptoms of anhedonia include a consistent, dull mood, social withdrawal, and a lack of interest in food and sex. It’s important to note that anhedonia is only present in severe cases of depression and is a frequent indicator of schizophrenia, a brain disorder with symptoms that include hallucinations, delusions, paranoia, and skewed thinking. Schizophrenia is a serious mental health condition that is known to sometimes affect women in their twenties and thirties. For more information on schizophrenia, visit the National Institute of Mental Health: Schizophrenia website.
Anxiety is a constant state of worry, extreme nervousness, paranoia, and fear. Anxiety is normal under certain circumstances, but women who are plagued by an anxiety disorder experience this state for extended periods of time without reason and the overwhelming feelings of anxiety eventually interrupt their quality of life. Depression in women and anxiety are commonly inter-related and anxiety disorders are found in women at more than twice the rate that they are diagnosed in men.
Additional health resources regarding women and depression can be found here:
Mayo Clinic – Depression Symptoms
Depression in Women: Understanding the Gender Gap
Major Depressive Disorder – Causes and Risk Factors
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