When people think of depression they typically think of sadness and lack of energy, but depression encompasses more than this. People who experience depression report feelings of sadness, loss of interest in previously pleasurable activities, change in appetite and sleep, fatigue, feelings of worthlessness, frequent thoughts of death and suicide and frustration. Also, gender differences are present in rates of depression and the symptoms it presents.
Women vs. Men
According to Psychology Today, rates of depression among women are significantly higher than among men. Up until puberty boys and girls show no difference in depression rates, but after puberty everyone becomes more at risk, while women become twice as likely to experience depression, when compared to men.
Depression in Women
One of the reasons for this significant gender difference is the life stressors that women tend to experiences at greater rates. The Mayo Clinic suggests that women experience unequal power and status, which may increase their feelings of negativism and lack of self-esteem. Also, women tend to handle two jobs--the work of homemaker and breadwinner. These dueling roles could cause increases in stress and feelings of hopelessness. In addition, women experience greater rates of physical and sexual abuse that can negativity impact their emotional well-being. Women's bodies deal with stress differently by producing much higher levels of stress hormones, as reported by Psychology Today.
Contributions to Weight Gain
Women typically experience atypical depression. Thus, instead of reducing their amounts of sleep and losing their appetite they begin to eat and sleep more. According to Help Guide, women who experience depression will begin to increase their food intake, especially carbohydrates, and they will sleep persistently, resulting in significant weight gain. As women gain weight their feelings of guilt, remorse and helplessness increase, and to subdue these emotions they turn to food; therefore completing the cycle of weight gain. Another aspect to take into consideration is that hypothyroidism may be to blame for your depression and weight gain. A doctor should be consulted to test for this.
Depression is a severe illness that can produce many emotional as well as physical problems. The Mayo Clinic points to a variety of complications that can result from bouts with depression including, but not limited to, anxiety, work or school problems, relationship strain, interpersonal conflicts, substance abuse and addiction, heart disease, isolation and suicide.
Ending the Suffering
Symptoms of depression can be reduced through therapy and medication. Your mental health provider will be able to evaluate your symptoms and begin your treatment plan. Treatment plans should adapt the use of medication to fit a woman’s biological make-up. Women are more likely to experience side effects and should be started on lower doses of antidepressants than men, according to Help Guide. Treatment must also take into consideration the hormonal changes women experience and the possibility for dual diagnosis, such as anxiety and eating disorders, as stated in Help Guide.