Women and Depression

Everyday stress, depression, changes in sleep, eating disorders, etc., all impact your emotional and physical health. Everyone has an exquisite nervous system that responds uniquely to internal and external environmental factors. These responses are expressed in feelings and behaviour.

Women are more prone to Post traumatic stress disorder and this can show in terms of signs of  Alcohol and drug abuse,  Depression, Suicide, Anger and fear, Grief, Panic attacks, sleep disorders, Physical health problems.

This is because they keep everyone else in the family first than themselves. It’s important have regular interaction with a doctor , who can answer all your health related questions and guide you on precautionary measures based on you and your family history.

As per recent research reports, men suffer when their wives die as they rely more heavily on their spouses, whereas women appeared to get healthier as they no longer had to go through the stress and restrictions of married life.

Listed down are few of the prominent reasons for depression in women –

1. Emotional and physical abuse – Women endure Physical, sexual, economic, emotional, psychological, and cultural and identity abuse

The most common being intimate partner violence  also known as domestic violence. IPV is when a current or former partner or spouse uses physical, sexual, or psychological  behaviours or threats that can make you feel scared, controlled, or intimidated. A relationship in which IPV occurs is an abusive relationship.

IPV could include any of the following:

  • Physical violence including  hitting, pushing, choking, shaking, slapping,
  • Sexual violence or Threats of physical or sexual abuse – words, looks or gestures to control or frighten , attempted or actual sexual contact
  • Psychological or emotional abuse – humiliating, putting down, isolating, threatening
  • Stalking – following, harassing, or unwanted contact that makes you feel afraid

What are some signs of an abusive relationship? A relationship with IPV can be overwhelming and confusing. Sometimes it can be hard to know if you have experienced IPV. The following indicators are  some examples of IPV in a relationship where a partner

  • Controls  all of the family income and budget  and your work
  • Keeps you away from friends and family and  questions/ threatens you about  what you do, where you go.
  • Puts  you down, or make you feel guilty or ashamed for all not so good aspects of his life.
  • Makes / carry out threats to hurt you or your feelings / or those of someone you love or threaten to ruin your reputation/ take your children away
  • Scares  you by breaking or destroying objects, or punching holes in walls

If you think you are going through majority of the above mentioned aspects in life then you should immediately contact a health provide , counselor.

2. Pregnancy and Mental Health

Depression is a common problem during and after pregnancy. When you are pregnant or after you have a baby, you may be depressed and not know it. 1 out of 10 women experienced frequent postpartum depressive symptoms and it can stretch for years if not treated.

Symptoms of pre and post pregnancy related depression include:

  • Crying a lot, having no energy or motivation
  • Eating and sleeping too little or too much
  • Having memory problems and trouble focusing or making decisions
  • Feeling worthless and guilty, having suicidal thoughts.
  • Losing interest or pleasure in activities you used to enjoy
  • Withdrawing from friends and family
  • Having headaches, aches and pains, or stomach problems that dont go away

Certain factors may increase your risk of depression during and after pregnancy:

  • A personal history / family history  of depression or another mental illness
  • A lack of support from family and friends
  • Anxiety or negative feelings about the pregnancy
  • Problems with a previous pregnancy or birth
  • Marriage or money problems
  • Stressful life events and Young age
  • Substance abuse

Your doctor can figure out if your symptoms are caused by depression or something else.

3. Premenstrual problems – For some women, premenstrual syndrome (PMS), symptoms are severe enough to disrupt their lives. Symptoms like  severe depression which starts in the week or two before the menstrual period begins and ends within a few days after the period starts,  may indicate an extreme form of PMS known as premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD)
In fact hormone fluctuations related to the reproductive cycle can have a profound influence on a woman’s mood.  Women should always look for connections between the depressive symptoms and reproductive cycle.

Managing depression Share your feelings with someone you trust, preferably face-to-face. Share what you’re going through with the people you love and trust. If you don’t feel that you have anyone to confide in, look towards  building new friendships by  joining a support group

Indulge in social activities- When you’re depressed, it feels more comfortable to retreat into your shell and not connect with anyone. But we humans are wired to be social. Focusing on others, when you connect with them, can move you off a preoccupation with self-defeating thoughts. Dedicating time to a meaningful activity improves mood, reduces stress, and keeps you mentally sharp.

Meditate- Meditating produces brain changes that promote positive emotions and reduce negative emotions such as fear and anger. It can lower your heart rate, blood pressure, breathing rate, oxygen consumption, adrenaline levels, and levels of cortisol, a hormone released in response to stress.

  • Exercise – Studies show that regular exercise can be as effective as antidepressant medication. Exercise helps the body produce serotonin which affects mood and social behaviour, appetite and digestion, sleep, memory and sexual desire and function.
  • Sleep well – Aim for 8 hours of sleep as depression typically involves sleep problems. In fact several sleep disorders like nightmares, insomnia, sleep apnoea and periodic limb movements—are highly prevalent in PTSD
  • Dietary modifications – Cutting back on salt, fatty foods, caffeine, and alcohol helps in reducing symptoms. Eating plenty of complex carbohydrates is also recommended.
  • Nutritional supplements – Vitamin B-6, calcium, magnesium, Vitamin E, and tryptophan have all been shown to benefit women suffering from PMDD.
    Serotonin is one of the most important chemical found in human body. It carries signals along and between nerves – a neurotransmitter. It is mainly found in the brain, bowels and blood platelets. Its levels are influenced by external factors, such as sunlight, diet and exercise.

Conclusion – Every moment is a new start of life . The present is what we live in. Dream about future but focus on work at hand today. Gradually and slowly you will realise  how our body and mind starts taking care of itself.

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