The roles of women have changed. No longer are women only expected to be mothers and wives and helpers of men. The roles of women have evolved and women equally perform as men do. Though women play on what appears to be a level playing ground, the reality is that women lives are complex. The roles and expectation of women have changed over the years, but what remains is that women suffer specific depressions. Some depression factors which only affect women are based on gender bias and genetic predisposition. In this blog, I will share the 4 reasons women experience depression differently.
The Effects of Gender-Specific Bias on Women’s Depression
Research shows women are half of the workforce and are the sole or co-breadwinner in half of the American families with children. Women are often times the head of household in single-parent families. Women earn more post-graduate degrees than men but earn 80 cents for every dollar earned by men in nearly every single occupation. This unequal pay for the same work is an outright discrimination based on sex. Gender-specific bias is a significant feature of working life, and additionally, women’s contributions are often times ignored as irrelevant. Sexual assault towards women in the workplace as magnified by the #metoo movement. When women are confronted with these gender biases, the result is that women simply become frustrated, discouraged, and emotionally exhausted. This feeling of exhaustion if not addressed can result in depression.
The Effects of Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder on Women’s Depression
Premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD) is not Premenstrual Syndrome. PMDD and Premenstrual Syndrome are similar; however, PMDD symptoms are more pronounced and disabling. PMDD affects about 5% of fertile women and is a variant of premenstrual syndrome. It starts about ten days before your period starts and ends shortly the start of your period. PMDD is not depression; rather depression is a symptom of PMDD. Other symptoms of PMDD are anxiety and irritability.
The Effects of Giving Birth on Women’s Depression
Postpartum depression is the name given to depression that starts a month and up to one year after the birth of a baby. It’s different from baby blues in that it lasts longer and does not go away with the support of loved ones. All parents go through a period of adjustment and postpartum depression does not occur because of something a mother did or didn’t do. Postpartum depression is caused by hormonal changes in the brain after childbirth, lack of proper sleep. Some of the symptoms of postpartum depression are:
- Feelings of being inadequate as a mother
- feeling hopeless about the future
- feeling exhausted, sad and tearful
- feelings of guilt, shamed or lack of self-worth
- feelings of anxiety
- sleeping too much
- poor sleep
- worrying excessively about the baby
- Feeling scared of being alone.
It is important that you talk to your Dr. about these feelings because only a Dr. can diagnose and treat postpartum depression. Postpartum depression should be taken seriously and not brushed off as baby blues. Your loved one suffering from postpartum depression may not be able to advocate for herself and may need the support of partner, friends or family to get help.
The Effects of Perimenopause on Women’s Depression
Perimenopause is the transition into menopause and is a normal phase in a woman’s life. This change can sometimes be challenging. Some risk factors for depression in perimenopause include poor sleep, hot flashes, stressful or negative life events, employment status, age, and race. If you at the perimenopause stage of life, and you are experiencing any of the above, it’s normal. While the aforementioned symptoms are normal depression is not normal and you may be experiencing perimenopausal depression. Annual OBGYN checkups are encouraged for women, and you are encouraged to talk to your OBGYN about emotional experiences as they can correctly diagnose and prescribe the best treatment for you.
Remember every woman is unique and depression may look different in different cultures and subcultures. Pay attention to your mood and pay attention to your friends and loved ones who may not be as knowledgeable as you are. We, women, have to be our sister’s keepers and look out for one another. The world needs the strength of women, for the sake of our children and families and generations to come. As always please seek help; there is an online help, texting, walk in, telephone, but get help if you need it. Empower yourself with knowledge and take action.
Seek help today. Find a local therapist or contact the National Suicide Lifeline by calling 1-800-273-8255 or texting “START” to 741-741.