If you are a depressed woman, you’re probably asking yourself why you feel so gloomy, what is the cause of your depression. First, you need to know that, as a woman, you’re two times more prone to depression than men. Female depression is different from male depression. Depressed men tend to blame others, feel angry, irritable; ego inflated, suspicious, guarded, restless, agitated, and create conflicts. While women tend to behave and feel just the opposite when depressed.
This means you’re probably lying somewhere in a fetal position, covered with blankets and pillows, hoping that everybody will leave you alone. You’re pondering over and over the same dark thoughts, like a broken record. You’re blaming yourself for the condition you’re in.
Second thing you should know is that female depression triggers are different from depression triggers within males.
So get up! Bear with me for a moment and you’ll find out why the depression is so common in women, what causes it, and on what you can influence.
Biological causes of depression in women
You won’t be able to change most parts of your biology. However, there are techniques for balancing your body, mind, and soul, when you’re depressed. These techniques, for example, include yoga, meditation, tai-chi, Qigong, etc. If you start to practice some of them, they’ll return your sense of control over depression.
Let’s take a closer look at the biological causes of depression in women.
1. Genes. Heredity plays an important role in depression development. Although, all the genes implicated in this process are not discovered, yet. One of the genes that are responsible for developing depression is, for example, the serotonin transporter gene.
If your parents or siblings had major depression, you’re probably at 2 to 3 times greater risk to become depressed yourself. And if your parents or siblings had reoccurring depression from an early age, your chances of becoming depressed are even higher (4 or 5 times greater than the average person).
2. Hormonal imbalance. Female hormones, also, play an important part in the development of depression. Here are which hormones and why:
- Estrogen – low estrogen levels can make you feel sad and hopeless. These feelings may trigger depression. Estrogen increases serotonin which helps to fight depression and sleeping problems. This female hormone also increases GABA, a calming neurotransmitter that increases endorphins (help you feel good).
- Progesterone – normal levels of progesterone are very important. High levels of progesterone can prevent your stress hormone system from turning itself off. Prolonged stress leads to depression. In balance, progesterone has natural calming effects, promotes sleep, and helps balance estrogen. It is considered to be a natural antidepressant. On the other hand, high levels of progesterone can cause insomnia and bad moods.
- Cortisol – the stress hormone that can trigger depression if it’s too high or too low. High levels of cortisol will make you feel agitated, increase your belly fat, influence sugar cravings, and prevent you from sleeping. While low levels of cortisol will make you unable to handle stress, experience extreme fatigue, low libido, and mood changes.
What are those critical periods in the life of a woman when she may become depressed?
As you already know, you’re passing through periods of natural hormonal fluctuations. That’s probably why women are more prone to depression than men. These periods of hormonal fluctuations are sensitive times in life, when a woman may become depressed.
Get to know your hormones and their influence on your body and mind. These periods are:
1. Just before menstrual cycles. Majority of women suffer from mild PMS. But for some women this is a difficult time during the month. These women can become depressed, because of the hormonal imbalance.
2. Pregnancy. Part of a woman’s life where hormonal changes happen; this may also lead to hormonal imbalance and depression.
3. Just after having a child – postpartum depression. It’s a well-known form of depression. Many new mothers experience the ‘baby blues’, as a normal reaction that tends to last a few weeks after childbirth. However, some women experience severe, lasting depression, influenced by hormonal changes after the childbirth.
4. Perimenopause and menopause. These are sensitive times in women’s lives when estrogen decreases. If you suffered from depression earlier in life, you have an increased risk of depression during menopause, as well.
Psychological causes of depression in women
Become aware of your psychological, thinking patterns. Examine why they’re there and what triggered them. Take a conscious effort to know your psychology.
1. Health problems. If you’re suffering from chronic illness, injury or disability for a prolonged period, you can become depressed.
2. Miscarriage, unwanted pregnancy, and infertility. Very disturbing periods in life of a woman, often accompanied with deep sadness that could lead to depression.
3. Overwhelming stress at work, school, or home. Some studies show that women are more likely to develop depression from stress than man. The reason is that the physiological response to stress differs between sexes. Women produce more stress hormone than men. What’s more, female hormone progesterone prevents turning off stress hormones.
4. Focusing on and thinking over negative feelings. When depressed, women are more likely to think over and focus on their depression and negative thoughts. That’s how they create a vicious circle in their thought pattern. It’s very difficult to interrupt this circle. Unlike men who tend to distract themselves and think about other things.
5. Problems with body image. Since early age girls are preoccupied with the ‘perfect body image’ that various women magazines promote. Girls tend to be dissatisfied more often than boys with their bodies. This could lead to depression in adulthood.
6. Death of a loved one or death of a close person. It is a stressful event in life that can lead to profound sadness. Feeling sad in these situations is a part of the normal healing process. But if sadness persists, it could lead to depression. Feelings of helplessness and loneliness are also common.
Social causes of depression in women
Social factors have their role in causing depression. They are common to men and women. The only difference is that society imposes more expectations on women. If some of the ‘social molds’ are making you feel depressed, be brave, set your boundaries, and refuse to be ‘packed in molds’.
1. Difficulties in fulfilling all the roles that society imposes on women. For example, most women are hardly balancing the pressure of their career and home life. They are supposed to work not only at their workplace, but at home as well. They’re supposed to be there for their spouses and children 24/7, which leaves no time for themselves. This can be stressful and lead to depression.
2. Persistent money problems. This is especially common with single moms, and can lead to depression. Money problems are accompanied with feelings of inadequacy, shame, and guilt.
3. Family responsibility. This includes caring for children, spouse, or aging parents.
4. Experiencing discrimination at work or not reaching important goals. Discrimination and mobbing at work, losing or changing jobs, and retirement are stressful events that could lead to depression.
Now you slightly more understand the depression and causes of depression.
What are you planning to do to gain more control over your condition? What do you think will empower you during difficult times? Share your thoughts in the comments.