Depression impacts twice as many women as men. Nearly one-quarter of all women will experience depression at some point in their lives. Those statistics are due in part to the biological changes women encounter at different stages of life, such drops in estrogen levels following childbirth or with the onset of menopause. Depression may be more likely to affect a woman at a particular time of her life, such as during pregnancy, after giving birth, or during menopause, or even at different phases of her menstrual cycle.
WHAT ARE THE SYMPTOMS OF DEPRESSION IN WOMEN?
Depression behaves differently in women than in men, too. Although it’s important to keep an eye out for all of the warning signs, some specific symptoms are more likely to impact women, including:
- Overeating (especially carbohydrates)
- Weight gain
- Sensitivity to rejection
Doctors sometimes use the term “atypical depression” to describe this cluster of symptoms.
Depression in women may also be accompanied by other problems such as anxiety or eating disorders. This is in contrast to depression in men, which is more likely to be complicated by substance abuse.
HOW IS DEPRESSION DIAGNOSED AND TREATED IN WOMEN?
The same tools are used to identify depression in men and women. Some of the most commonly used tools are reproduced in the Are You Depressed? section of this website, and may help you begin to determine whether the symptoms you are experiencing could indicate depression. [Note that these tests are not meant to take the place of an evaluation and diagnosis by a trained medical professional.]
The same treatment options are available for both men and women as well, including psychotherapy, medication and neuromodulation techniques. All of these are discussed in the Know Your Treatment Options section of this website. In addition, for both men and women, additional self-care strategies such as exercise, proper nutrition, stress management and healthy sleep habits are critical to managing the symptoms of depression.
More information about depression in women at different life stages: