posted: Jan. 26, 2021.
Depression: The Impact on Women and Teens
Feeling down, sad, or tired is a normal and familiar feeling for all of us. Whether stress is starting to catch up, you’re burnt out, or simply feeling overwhelmed with daily stressors and responsibilities, this is something we all experience from time to time.
But when these feelings start to affect our daily lives or last longer than usual, it may be a sign of depression.
One of the most misunderstood disorders, depression, can often appear differently in women and teens. It's more common among women than men, likely due to certain biological, hormonal, and social factors unique to women. Regarding age, depression can occur at any point in time. Symptoms may present differently in teens and adults.
They can range from mild, temporary states of low mood to harsh, long-term symptoms that profoundly impact a person's quality of life. It can be challenging to understand if someone hasn't experienced it before.
To better understand depression, the following describes typical symptoms and the differences in teens and women.
Symptoms of depression
Commonly referred to as clinical depression, major depressive disorder is the form most people refer to on a day to day basis. A major depressive disorder is a mood disorder defined by several key features:
● Sadness, feelings of emptiness
● Lack of interest in activities normally enjoyed
● Appetite changes
● Changes in weight
● Changes in sleep (sleeping too much or too little)
● Fatigue, or feeling "slowed down."
● Physical symptoms or pain (body aches, frequent headaches, etc.)
● Feelings of worthlessness and guilt
● Difficulty concentrating
Differences in women
1 in 8 women experiences depression, almost double the rate of men. Symptoms are more visible in women, as they’re typically more expressive emotionally. There are also unique risk factors contributing to depression that are unique to women.
Some of them include:
Hormonal differences. Depressive disorders peak during reproductive years and women are especially prone to them during menstrual periods, pregnancy, and childbirth. Due to the rapid changes in hormones after childbirth, a woman may experience symptoms of postpartum
Social roles. Women are typically expected to be nurturing and sensitive to the needs of others. These expectations can often cause inner conflict and stress that can contribute to depression.
Differences in teens
Although similar in symptoms, teens tend to experience depression slightly differently than adults.
Irritability. Adults usually express feeling low when they're depressed, but teenagers regularly become irritable. They may come off as disrespectful, impatient, or restless. While mood swings can be natural during these years, unusual behavior and mood changes should be considered a warning sign of possible depression.
Physical pain. Teens are more likely to reports physical symptoms of stress, like headaches and stomach issues. These symptoms are common and unlikely to show up in any physical tests or exams.
Academic changes. You may notice a difference in grades or attitude towards schoolwork. Teens typically experience a significant amount of pressure to succeed in school and are among the main causes of depression.
Sensitivity to criticism. Depression can lead to an emotional sensitivity to criticism. Whether it's skipping tryouts for a sports team or asking someone out in fear of being rejected, teens can deal with this sensitivity by avoiding situations that present an opportunity for failure or rejection.
Withdrawal. Social isolation is common in anyone struggling with depression, but teens don't necessarily withdraw from everyone when they become depressed. A teen may start to hang out with the wrong crowd, make a conscious effort to separate themselves from certain family members, or spend more time online to escape their current realities.
If you think you or your teen may be depressed, seek professional help. Although it can be a devastating illness, depression is manageable. Treatment options can include the following:
Psychotherapy : also known as "talk therapy," psychotherapy is a common treatment for depression. Working with a trained mental health therapist or counselor can help you understand, process, and cope with symptoms.
Medications : often combined with psychotherapy, medication can help reduce symptoms of depression. Contact your local health provider to learn more about which medications could benefit you.
Additionally, there are several strategies people can do to cope with depression. Lifestyle changes and self-care techniques such as getting quality sleep, implementing a routine, eating a healthy diet, and exercising regularly can improve symptoms. While it may be challenging to seek treatment if you feel depressed, there is no pressure to
tackle it all at once. Any treatment or strategy should be individualized and tailored to fit your needs and preferences. What works for someone else may not necessarily work for you.