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Depression in Women


How are PMS and PMDD related to depression in women? continued...

About 3% to 5% of menstruating women experience premenstrual dysphoric disorder, or PMDD. PMDD is a severe form of PMS, marked by highly emotional and physical symptoms that usually become more severe seven to 10 days before the onset of menstruation.

In the last decade, these conditions have become recognized as important causes of discomfort and behavioral change in women. While the precise link between PMS, PMDD, and depression is still unclear, chemical changes in the brain and fluctuating hormone levels are both thought to be contributing factors.

How are PMS and PMDD treated?

Many women who suffer with depression along with PMS or PMDD find improvement through exercise or meditation. For individuals with severe symptoms, medicine, individual or group psychotherapy, or stress management may be helpful.

Does depression in women occur during pregnancy?

Pregnancy was once assumed to be a period of well-being that protected women against psychiatric disorders. But depression in women occurs almost as commonly in pregnant women as it does in those who are not pregnant. The factors which increase the risk of depression in women during pregnancy are:

  • A history of depression or PMDD
  • Age at time of pregnancy -- the younger you are, the higher the risk
  • Living alone
  • Limited social support
  • Marital conflict
  • Uncertainty about the pregnancy

What is the impact of depression on pregnancy?

The potential impact of depression on a pregnancy includes the following:

  • Depression can interfere with a woman's ability to care for herself during pregnancy. She may be less able to follow medical recommendations and to sleep and eat properly.
  • Depression can cause a woman to use substances such as tobacco, alcohol, and/or illegal drugs, which could harm the baby.
  • Depression can make bonding with the baby difficult.

Pregnancy may have the following impact on depression in women:

  • The stresses of pregnancy can contribute to the development of depression or a recurrence or worsening of depression symptoms.
  • Depression during pregnancy can increase the risk for having depression after delivery (called postpartum depression).

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