18 May What are the symptoms of depression in women?
There’s a difference between depression and feeling low.
It’s normal to feel sad sometimes, especially when things go wrong. However, feelings of sadness should pass with time.
Depression is different. It’s a mood disorder that affects how you think, feel and cope with everyday activities.
Depression is more common in women
The combination of biological, hormonal and social factors that are unique to women, sadly means that depression is more prevalent in women than it is in men. In England, around one in five women has a common mental health problem like depression according to The Mental Health Foundation.
The symptoms of depression in women
If you’re depressed, you may find you experience feelings like hopelessness, irritability and anxiety. You may find you’re tearful and find it difficult to make decisions. You may also lose interest in the things you used to enjoy.
Remember, it’s normal for everyone to have feelings like this from time to time, especially if you are dealing with life or health challenges. Usually, they pass in a short time, but you should always see your doctor if you feel these feelings are persisting for a long time.
The NHS defines clinical depression as when ‘symptoms persist for weeks or months’ and start to interfere with your work, social life and family life.
Some people with depression also experience suicidal thoughts or have thoughts of self-harm. If this is the case, it’s particularly important to seek help.
The physical symptoms of depression
You may also notice outward signs of depression. Many people with depression will experience weight loss or a loss of appetite. That said, weight gain can also be a symptom, especially for women.
A lack of energy is also common. You might struggle to get a good night’s sleep, find it difficult to fall asleep or wake up unusually early or during the night.
Even mild depression can cause changes to our menstrual cycle. A 2021 study found women with depressive disorders often reach the menopause more quickly.
Some women also experience a loss of libido during bouts of depression, meaning they lose interest in having sex.
The social symptoms of depression
If you’re struggling with depression, you may also notice changes in your social life. Friends or family may also notice these changes.
If you have found yourself turning down invitations to social activities and avoiding contact with friends, it could be a sign of the onset of depression. You may also neglect hobbies and have lost interest in things you used to be passionate about.
Alongside all the uncomfortable physical symptoms, many of us experience low mood and even symptoms of depression during or just before our periods.
The symptoms of menstrual depression are usually the same as those linked to normal depression but generally show up in the days leading up to your period until a few days afterwards.
Postnatal depression is a type of depression that affects parents who have recently had a baby. Although it can affect fathers too, it’s most common among women, affecting at least one in ten new mothers.
It’s usual to feel teary for a week or two after giving birth, but, if symptoms last longer, you may have postnatal depression. This type of depression can develop gradually over time and may occur any time in the year after childbirth.
Many of the symptoms are the same as standard depression. However, you may also experience difficulty bonding with your baby, and even frightening thoughts about hurting your child. Make sure you speak to your health visitor or healthcare professional if you are experiencing these feelings.
Depression during menopause
Women are particularly vulnerable to depression in the years before and after menopause.
During this time, hormones are shifting which can really impact your mood. Menopause.org suggests seeing a doctor if you are experiencing symptoms of depression for most of the day, nearly every day, for two weeks or more.
When to seek help
If you’re feeling persistently sad for weeks or months, the NHS recommends talking to your doctor.
With the right treatment and support, most people with depression can make a full recovery., so don’t delay seeking help.
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