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Depression is a mental disorder that causes changes in feelings and thoughts of an individual. In this condition, the affected person starts feeling sadness unusually often, loses interest in their activities, even favorite ones, experiences changes in the appetite, cannot focus on his or her tasks, and, in acute cases, thinks of suicide. It is considered that women are more prone to develop this condition than men. The fact is often disregarded in many cases. Thus, it is important to pinpoint the reasons of it to avoid negative outcomes for women in the future by finding the ways to address the issue.
Generally, this mental illness can affect wide range of individuals, even though their lives are almost empty of factors that may cause depression. The risks of this issue may have inner and outer sources. The constant psychological pressure is the main outer factor of depression. The pressure may be in a form of abuse, neglect, or violence towards any person. An individual exposed to these factors has much more chances to develop depression. Low self-esteem and pessimistic point of view can be considered as inner psychological factors of depression. Biology can also contribute to its development. Such factors as genetics and specific biochemical processes may make a person more prone to depression as well.
The reason of stronger affection to depression in women is related to the differences in biology and unique social factors for women. Consequently, certain types of depression are strictly feminine. Officially, three types of depression are natural only for women, namely the premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD), perinatal, and perimenopause depression (National Institute of Mental Health [NIMH], 2016). As one may notice, these are linked to heavy changes in hormonal condition. The PMDD is a severe form of the premenstrual syndrome or PMS. It is characterized by both mental changes, such as heightened irritability, sadness, thoughts of suicide, and increased physical sensibility in a form of appetite changes, breast tenderness, as well as joint or muscle pain. Perinatal depression is associated with the late stages of pregnancy and post-natal period. Thus, bearing a baby, giving birth, and caring for a newborn is not easy, both mentally and physically. Hormonal changes contribute to depression development in this hard period of time for a new mother. When a woman gets close to the menopause, perimenopause depression sometimes may manifest itself. All these conditions require medical treatment, especially in acute cases, although many people may say that these periods are “normal” and “will pass on by themselves” since the relatively more serious hormonal changes are natural for women. Hence, three types of changes in levels of reproductive hormones of women may case three types of depression that should not be tolerated and must be treated if an individual experiences related symptoms.
The abovementioned factors are under the active scientific research that are aimed to find how the hormones affect depression development and pave the way for more effective medications based on the new knowledge. While biochemists are looking for new chemical compounds, some researchers suggest physical activities to help get over the depression symptoms. For example, since using too much chemicals is not considered good for pregnant women and their babies, yoga is suggested as an effective and safe alternative to treat perinatal depression (Battle, Uebelacker, Magee, Sutton, Miller, 2015). It is important that in the study, women who were taking gentle prenatal yoga training did not encounter any safety issues or injuries, and the activity was actually helping fight depression. It comes that the alternative solutions, such as yoga or physical exercises, can be very useful in avoiding serious outcomes from perinatal depression and potentially other types.
Another factor that makes certain women highly exposed to depression development is a so-called SAVA, which stands for substance abuse, violence, and AIDS. Altogether, these psychological, behavioral, and medical conditions are considered syndemic or ones that affect the population, thus coactively increasing incidence of each other. SAVA factors are strong contributors to the affected women’s depression, and their combination acts as a catalyst (Illangasekare, Burke, Chander, Gielen, 2015). Moreover, it appears that the developed depression contributes to the even more drug abuse. SAVA factors often affect populations that live in low-income regions. Thus, poverty, violence, as well as constant struggle can be both direct and indirect factors of women’s depression.
According to the study conducted by Illangasekare et al. (2015), depression of SAVA-affected women can be prevented and sometimes fought by introducing quality social support in the problematic regions. It would enhance patients’ mental health and help them live through hard times. Such assistance could improve the lives in low-income regions that would, in turn, establish stable development and overall health of the community. Therefore, organized social support is vital for women with depression from SAVA.
In conclusion, the reasons and specifics of women’s depression were discussed. The females are more likely to develop depression than men due to different biochemistry and unique social factors. Current science has high interest for hormonal changes that may cause depression in women and development of medical treatments for them. Alternative approaches are also very welcome in depression prevention and treatment, for example, yoga for perinatal depression. Other problem that makes women more prone to depression in low-income areas is SAVA syndemic. The more factors of SAVA come into play, the more severe the depression can develop, which, in turn, would make even bigger contribution to SAVA. A good prevention method against SAVA-related depression and its outcomes is quality social support for the struggling women. Potentially, alternative methods for depression treatment, such as yoga or some other activities, could be combined with comprehensive social support.
Battle, C. L., Uebelacker, L. A., Magee, S. R., Sutton, K. A., Miller, I. W. (2015). Potential for prenatal yoga to serve as an intervention to treat depression during pregnancy. Women's Health Issues, 25(2), 134-141. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.whi.2014.12.003
Illangasekare, S. L., Burke, J. G., Chander, G., Gielen, A. C. (2015). Depression and social support among women living with the substance abuse, violence, and HIV/AIDS syndemic: A qualitative exploration. Women's Health Issues, 24(5), 551-557.
National Institute of Mental Health. (2016). Depression in women: 5 things you should know (NIMH publication no. TR 16-4779). Bethesda, MD: NIMH Science Writing, Press, and Dissemination Branch.