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Women´s Health

Women seek help more often for depression
06/04/2009

Everyone knows what it’s like to feel down once in a while. It could be the result of a busy week at work or the effects of a cloudy, cold day. Most often, the feeling passes and we’re able to resume our daily routines.

When this feeling begins to interfere with the ability to function, a person could be suffering from depression and needs to seek medical help.

Studies show women have a higher incidence of depression than men. One cause is hormones, which put women at risk for experiencing mood disorders and even clinical depression, one of the most serious mental health issues affecting females of all ages. Pre-menstrual syndrome (PMS), pregnancy and menopause are conditions that impact hormones – and a woman’s state of mind.

Typically, fluctuations caused by these conditions are manageable. But in certain cases, a woman may experience violent mood swings, severe fatigue, extreme panic attacks or excessive worrying to the point where she doesn’t want to leave home and is unable to maintain relationships.

Another cause of depression is the amount of stress women have to manage. From being a career woman to raising kids (perhaps as a single parent), women face more stress today than ever before.

Financial and relational stressors are normal. However, when the pressure builds and stress isn’t properly managed, it can lead to more serious mental health issues such as depression.

Death, an abusive relationship (physical or emotional), a family history of depression and other traumatic experiences are also factors.

Fortunately, there are many ways to cope with depression. The first step is to recognize the signs and symptoms of the condition. These include fatigue, insomnia, irritability, lack of patience toward kids and spouse, excessive crying and sadness, a lack of interest or joy, a feeling of worthlessness and suicidal thoughts. Depression can cause chronic pain and lead to alcohol and other drug abuse. Look for these signs as well.

Seek medical attention and a screening for depression if you exhibit any of these risk factors. The best outcomes are achieved through a combination of both psychotherapy and medication, rather than either one alone.

Try to balance the stress in life with recreation, exercise, a hobby or anything constructive that helps to refuel your energy. Reading, taking a jewelry class, finding a new form of exercise and even meeting a friend for a walk can be helpful ways to take a break from stress.

Another way to achieve balance is to make a wish list of goals and aspirations. This list can be a helpful way to find emotional outlets other than unhealthy snacking and watching television. Spend twenty minutes each day toward achieving one of these goals. You’ll find that you are reenergized and have a fresh outlook on life.

Ignoring the signs of depression is much more risky than accepting help and seeking professional treatment options for this common disorder. Talk to a medical professional as soon as possible to find the best treatment option for you.

Fatima Ali, MD, a board certified psychiatrist who specializes in treating women and depression, contributed to this article in cooperation with Edward Hospital.




 

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