Remember when these actresses spoke about their depression? Everyone was applauding their courage to come out and share their battle. And rightly so. However, ironically, this same society still finds it difficult to accept if someone in their circle is being treated for the same. People are afraid of colleagues or seniors getting to know if they are being treated for any mental issues (lest they are skipped in case of promotions etc). But it’s time that as a society we talk more about depression, increase our awareness and if required get treated – just like you treat every other disease.
Depression is a state of low mood and aversion to activity that can affect a person’s thoughts, behavior, feelings, and sense of well-being. It causes feelings of sadness, hopelessness, helplessness, and worthlessness. But it’s not just limited to a sad and empty feeling.
Here’s a list of common symptoms of depression (source:http://www.webmd.com)
- Persistent sad, anxious, or “empty” mood
- Loss of interest or pleasure in activities, including sex
- Restlessness, irritability, or excessive crying
- Feelings of guilt, worthlessness, helplessness, hopelessness, pessimism
- Sleeping too much or too little, early-morning waking
- Appetite and/or weight loss or overeating and weight gain
- Decreased energy, fatigue, feeling “slowed down”
- Thoughts of death or suicide, or suicide attempts
- Difficulty concentrating, remembering, or making decisions
- Persistent physical symptoms that do not respond to treatment, such as headaches, digestive disorders, and chronic pain
A year-long survey conducted in eight major Indian cities has revealed that an incredible 70% of urban Indians (age group 15 to 50 years) have suffered from spells of depression in the past two years, and most of them – 90% – have contemplated suicide in the same period. (Source : https://aasrasuicideprevention.blogspot.com/2012/10/)
Different stages in life and different events can trigger depression. Some of the common triggers recorded for women are conflicts, serious illness or death of someone close, and stressful events like marriage, divorce, separation, personal illness or injury, dismissal from work etc.
Along with this, there are certain types of depression that are unique to women. These are the specific times when women are most vulnerable.
Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder (PMDD)
As many as 3 out of 4 women experience PMS (premenstrual syndrome).during PMS women experience moodiness and irritability, bloating, cramps headaches just before the periods. PMDD is a very severe form of PMS. It is a serious condition with disabling symptoms such as irritability, anger, depressed mood, sadness, suicidal thoughts, appetite changes, bloating, breast tenderness, and joint or muscle pain. 3 to 5%of menstruating women experience PMDD
Perinatal pregnancy is depression during or after pregnancy (postpartum depression). During pregnancy, women often experience morning sickness, nausea and lots of physical changes to their body which comes with breast soreness, aches, pains and weight gain. Mood swings caused by hormonal changes accompany this is as well as thoughts of how things will change post the baby. These feelings are generally mild but sometimes they can get much more serious, which can again induce some or more of the symptoms of depression
Similarly, post the baby, the hormonal surge often causes a feeling of sadness and something known as “baby blues”. Postpartum depression is much more than just baby blues. It is a feeling of anxiousness, sadness, exhaustion which makes it difficult for a new mother to do activities. If you experience any of these symptoms or notice a loved one experiencing them, please encourage a visit to the doctor. Coz often after the baby is born, new moms want to feel capable of being able to handle the little one. At this time taking care of her own self, makes her feel like it is not right or she’s being incompetent
Perimenopause is the stage of a woman’s reproductive life that typically begins in her 40s (or earlier for some) and lasts until menstruation has ceased for a year (and a woman is considered to be in menopause). The drop in estrogen levels during perimenopause and menopause triggers physical and emotional changes — such as depression or anxiety. But it is a myth that it is “normal” to feel depressed. If you are struggling with irritability, anxiety, sadness, or loss of enjoyment at the time of the menopause transition, you may be experiencing perimenopausal depression.
Women are approximately two times more likely than men to suffer from major depression. (Research Agenda for Psychosocial and Behavioral Factors in Women’s Health, 1996). This is because of the social conditioning which leads to lower self-worth and self-confidence. Women often play multiple roles and everyone expects them to excel at all. A working dad who is unable to make it to a school event for kids is not subjected to any negative judgment as a working woman who would be in the same situation. A working woman is still expected to be the primary caretaker of the house and children. This coupled with bias at the workplace adds to increased pressure.
Remember: Depression affects each individual differently. And you can treat even the most severe cases of depression. With medication, psychotherapy (where a person talks with a trained professional about his or her thoughts and feelings), or a combination of the two. It is time we change our outlook about depression. Just as we visit the doctor for every other illness, we should for depression too.
This post is a part of the #womenwellness blogathon. We have some wonderful bloggers write about topics like periods, breast cancer, PCOS and other women centric issues that are sometimes hushed or even considered taboo