Depression is not only more common in women; it tends to appear earlier, to last longer and to be recurrent. Why?
Depression “includes several types of depressive syndromes,” of which two types stand out:
■ Major depressive disorder, mainly consisting of biological characteristics.
■ Dysthymic disorder, generally more prolonged in time and also related to psychological issues.
There is a multifactorial explanation for the prevalence of depression in women, but there are also ways to prevent it.
Women are biologically more vulnerable
There are biological factors, namely of hormonal origin, that can, in some situations, increase the vulnerability of women to depression. But it is the combination of these with psychosocial factors that can explain the prevalence in women. Women experience hormonal changes at specific periods during their lifecycle that are associated with depression: premenstrual dysphoric disorder, perinatal depression (during pregnancy or after childbirth) and peri-menopausal depression (period leading up to menopause).
Women are more pressured by society
Today’s society demands a lot from women. It is demanded that she perform professionally, but at home, as a wife and mother she must be competent. She herself feels the responsibility of not failing, which then leads to such an amount of work that it does not fit in with her sometimes perfectionist expectations; subsequently this may cause a depressive breakdown. It is true that there is already greater equality between the role of women and men in the younger generation. However, this evolution still fails to create sufficient factors of equilibrium in containing female vulnerability to prevent anxiety and depressive disorders.
Women are more competent in expressing their feelings
The fact that women find it easier to talk about their emotions than men and therefore seek help more readily. This fact also contributes to depression being additionally prevalent in women.
Strategies to prevent depression
According to the American Psychiatric Association, one third of women will experience a major depressive episode during their lifetime. This condition is characterised by a period of at least two consecutive weeks, during which there is a depressive mood or loss of interest for almost all activities, accompanied by malaise. But the good news is that there are also ways to prevent it.
Don’t blame yourself
It is very important for women to feel that they are not at fault. Don’t blame yourself or want to be perfect when you are doing multiple functions.
Psychological decompression and activity
To be able to balance what you are and what you do with what your duties are, you must include decompression variables in your life, such as going to the gym or dancing. These health-promoting activities help to alleviate the toxicity of everyday pressure and create important preventative factors.
Balance your relationship with the outside world
In order to have a balance within yourself, there has to be a balance with the outside world, and vice versa. On the one hand, articulating tasks with those who you live with, is important so that you do not become overwhelmed with tasks. On the other, free yourself from excessive work-related demands.
If you have difficulty finding balancing skills or are a perfectionist by nature, it may be helpful to seek some psychotherapeutic sessions. They help to free your inner conflicts and improve your relationship with others so you don’t always put yourself at risk. At other times, it can be useful, in terms of organisation. Have coaching sessions linked to the way you organise your personal and professional time.
Article submitted by HPA Health Group