Women’s Wellness: Understanding Depression And The Gender Gap

From Mayo Clinic News Network
Mayo Clinic News Network

WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) Women are nearly twice as likely as men to be diagnosed with depression which can occur at any age. This article from the Mayo Clinic takes a look at who may be at risk and how to recognize symptoms.

Mayo Clinic News Network

Some mood changes and depressed feelings occur with normal hormonal changes. But hormonal changes alone don’t cause depression. Other biological factors, inherited traits, and personal life circumstances and experiences are associated with a higher risk of depression. Here’s what contributes to depression in women.

PUBERTY
Hormone changes during puberty may increase some girls’ risk of developing depression. However, temporary mood swings related to fluctuating hormones during puberty are normal, these changes alone don’t cause depression.

Puberty is often associated with other experiences that can play a role in depression, such as:
-Emerging sexuality and identity issues
-Conflicts with parents
-Increasing pressure to achieve in school, sports or other areas of life

After puberty, depression rates are higher in females than in males. Because girls typically reach puberty before boys do, they’re more likely to develop depression at an earlier age than boys are. This depression gender gap lasts until after menopause.

PREMENSTRUAL PROBLEMS
For most females with premenstrual syndrome (PMS), symptoms such as abdominal bloating, breast tenderness, headache, anxiety, irritability and experiencing the blues are minor and short-lived.

But a small number of females have severe and disabling symptoms that disrupt their studies, jobs, relationships or other areas of their lives. At that point, PMS may cross the line into premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD), a type of depression that generally requires treatment.

The exact interaction between depression and PMS remains unclear. It’s possible that cyclical changes in estrogen, progesterone and other hormones can disrupt the function of brain chemicals such as serotonin that control mood.

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