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Depression Health Center

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Depression in Women

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What increases the chances of depression in women?

According to the National Institutes of Health, factors that increase the risk of depression in women include reproductive, genetic, or other biological factors; interpersonal factors; and certain psychological and personality characteristics. In addition, women juggling work with raising kids and women who are single parents suffer more stress that may trigger symptoms of depression. Other factors that could increase risk include:

  • Family history of mood disorders
  • History of mood disorders in early reproductive years
  • Loss of a parent before age 10
  • Loss of social support system or the threat of such a loss
  • Ongoing psychological and social stress, such as loss of a job, relationship stress, separation or divorce
  • Physical or sexual abuse as a child
  • Use of certain medications

Women can also get postpartum depression after the birth of a baby. Some people get seasonal affective disorder in the winter. Depression is one part of bipolar disorder.

Is depression hereditary?

Depression can run in families. When it does, it generally starts between ages 15 and 30. A family link to depression is much more common in women. However, there is not always an apparent genetic or hereditary link to explain why someone may develop clinical depression.

How does depression in women differ from depression in men?

Depression in women differs from depression in men in several ways:

  • Depression in women may occur earlier, last longer, be more likely to recur, be more likely to be associated with stressful life events, and be more sensitive to seasonal changes.
  • Women are more likely to experience guilty feelings and attempt suicide, although they actually commit suicide less often than men.
  • Depression in women is more likely to be associated with anxiety disorders, especially panic and phobic symptoms, and eating disorders.

How are PMS and PMDD related to depression in women?

As many as three out of every four menstruating women experience premenstrual syndrome or PMS. PMS is a disorder characterized by emotional and physical symptoms that fluctuate in intensity from one menstrual cycle to the next. Women in their 20s or 30s are usually affected.

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