The Women’s Health Issue No One Talks About

By Jenny Gold
Kaiser Health News

WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) About 1 out of 5 women in America will experience depression in their lifetime, twice the number of men. Some are depressed throughout the course of their lives; others become depressed following a big change. This article takes a look at the varied experiences of three different women.

Kaiser Health News

Kieley Parker never imagined she would need an antidepressant. “I always win those stupid sunshine and happiest person awards. People see me as an incredibly joyful person,” she said.

But in fall 2014, Parker left her job as a third-grade teacher and moved to Tulsa, Okla., with her fiance. Starting over in a new city was an enormous transition. “I couldn’t feel joy or even negative emotions like sadness. I couldn’t eat, I lost 25 pounds,” Parker recalled. “I was just anxious, which spiraled into depression.”

WHAT’S HAPPENING
About 1 out of 5 women in America will experience depression in her lifetime, twice the number of men. Some are depressed throughout the course of their lives; others, like Kieley, become depressed following a big change.

Over the past decade, people have increasingly treated depression with medication: Starting in 1994, the number of antidepressant prescriptions written by doctors went up 400 percent over a 10-year period. And today, about 15 percent of women take an antidepressant. Among women age 40 to 59, that number is nearly 23 percent, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

With so many people popping pills, it’s easy to wonder: Are they being overprescribed? The answer is complicated. “I suspect we have the right number of people taking antidepressants,” said Dr. Karen Swartz, a psychiatrist at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in Baltimore. “The question is whether we have the right people taking them.”

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