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Depression is a leading reason women seek counseling.  Women are twice as likely to have depression, and symptoms of depression, as men of the same age.*

Not only do women struggle with common forms of depression, there are actually 3 kinds of depression that are exclusive to women.  Let’s explore the relationship between women and depression in more detail.

3 kinds of depression

Perinatal depression –  Perinatal depression is more often called Postpartum depression, however, depression can happen during pregnancy or up to a year after delivery and is clinically called perinatal depression.  According to the Center for Women’s Mood Disorders** depression is one of the most common complications of pregnancy.  Many women, 50-85%, experience some form of “baby blues” after birth but in up to 10% of pregnancies the baby blues may escalate into clinical depression.

Symptoms of Perinatal Depression include:

  • Feeling sad, depressed, and/or crying a lot
  • Intense anxiety; rumination, obsessions
  • Feelings of guilt, worthlessness or incompetence
  • Fatigue, sleep disturbance
  • Change in appetite
  • Poor concentration
  • Feeling inadequate to cope with new infant
  • Suicidal thoughts
  • Loss of interest in usual activities

It’s important to be aware of that these symptoms may escalate quickly and may show up even months after giving birth, although most common in weeks following delivery.  It’s also important not just for women to be well educated about these symptoms but their partners and support systems as well.  Sometimes after delivery women are so concerned and focused on the infant they miss important warning signs.  Hospitals and delivery centers often offer support groups and/or counseling because this type of depression is so common and the adjustment of a new baby is often overwhelming.

Premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD) –  PMDD is characterized by significant premenstrual mood disturbance to the degree that it may impair functioning and impact relationships.  Women with PMDD may experience increased and even severe depression or anxiety during the week or two before each menstrual cycle.  Women with PMDD should experience a symptom-free interval between menses and ovulation.  It can be difficult to evaluate when mood issues are the result of PMDD and when there may be an underlying mood disorder.  This highlights the importance of holistic, integrative care.  It’s critical that medical and mental health professionals work together to provide the best care for the whole person.

Perimenopause-related depression –  The transition time between normal period cycles to the complete cessation of menses is called perimenopause.  During this time of hormone fluctuation, there is an increased risk of depression.  In addition to traditional depressive symptoms, women may also experience symptoms of hot flashes, insomnia, vaginal dryness, and mood problems.  It’s important to know sometimes these symptoms escalate gradually being particularly difficult to identify and treat.

Response to Treatment

The complex systems in a women’s body allow her to do truly miraculous things.  It’s important to keep in mind those systems also can create seasons where a woman is more vulnerable to depression.  The good news is that all three of these examples of depression respond well to treatment- both through talk therapy and medication.  If you think you or someone you love is struggling with any kind of depression please reach out and contact us.

Sources:
http://www.healthline.com/health/depression/statistics
** https://www.med.unc.edu/psych/wmd

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