Gender Differences with Depression
What is Depression?
Depression is a common mental health disorder that affects approximately 17.3 million American adults. Depression interferes with a person’s ability to work, sleep, study, eat, and enjoy life. Many people with depression may be told by loved ones to “snap out of it” or “just try to be happier,” but that’s not exactly the solution. Depression is caused by a combination of genetic, biological, environmental, and psychological factors. Seeking guidance from a mental health professional is the most successful treatment for depression.
When people hear the word depression, they usually immediately think of sadness. But sadness is only a small portion of depression. Chronic pains, headaches, cramps, digestive problems, and sleep disturbances are all symptoms of depression as well. If you have been experiencing any of the following difficulties for at least two weeks, you may be experiencing depression and it is important to seek help from a mental health professional:
- Decreased energy or fatigue
- Persistent sad, anxious, or “empty” mood
- Feelings of guilt, worthlessness, or hopelessness
- Loss of interest or pleasure in once enjoyable hobbies/activities
- Moving or talking more slowly
- Difficultly focusing, concentrating, or making decisions
- Sleep increase/decrease
- Weight increase/decrease
- Thoughts of death or suicide/suicide attempts
Some physical health complications can portray the same symptoms of depression, such as viruses and thyroid disorders. These can be diagnosed by a medical professional by physical exams and lab tests. Keeping note of what specific symptoms you feel, when symptoms occur, and how long symptoms last are key factors to discuss during a doctor visit. This gives the doctor adequate information for diagnosis and treatment options.
Women with Depression Gender Differences with Depression
Among the 17 million diagnosed with depression in the United States, the majority of them are women, and approximately two-thirds of them do not seek treatment. Men and women are likely to develop depression at the same rate, until women hit puberty. At that stage, women are twice as likely to develop depression. This is likely due to the changes in hormone levels women experience – puberty, pregnancy, menopause, etc. These hormone fluctuations are also likely to contribute to premenstrual syndrome (PMS) or premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD), both of which may cause depression and severe mood swings for women. Because women assume that most women experience PMS or PMDD symptoms, they will usually wait for their cycle to pass, not realizing that their hormones may be imbalanced and they are actually experiencing depressive episodes each cycle.
Women who are diagnosed with depression are more likely to be diagnosed earlier than men due these hormonal changes. It is also likely for symptoms to last longer and occur more often. Women tend to experience more stressful life events that can trigger depressive episodes, such as pregnancies or complications with pregnancies. The likelihood of a pregnant woman and a non-pregnant woman being diagnosed with depression are roughly the same. Women who are pregnant that are living alone, have limited social support, marital conflicts, or have uncertainty about the pregnancy are also at risk of being diagnosed. A woman will experience a drop in estrogen levels during pre-menopause and menopause, which triggers depression and anxiety as a result. As previously mentioned, there is a correlation between hormone levels and physical and emotional symptoms.
Men with Depression Gender Differences with Depression
While depression is more common and diagnosed in females, males are four times more likely to commit suicide than females. Men have been told to be more in control of their feelings since childhood. Our society has created a stigma that men should just “get over” whatever it is they’re feeling, or “man up.” Men are more likely to mask their emotions by unhealthy coping mechanisms and be more resistant to treatment. There could be several attributes that cause undiagnosed male depression:
Failure to recognize depression – Men may not be aware of the other symptoms that correlate with depression such as headaches, tiredness, irritability, or digestive problems.
Downplaying symptoms – Men may think their symptoms are not that serious or that they are going to affect them long-term.
Reluctance to discuss symptoms – Men may feel it is not “manly” to express feelings and believe they are supposed to suffer in silence.
Resistance to mental health treatment – Men may avoid treatment simply because they fear having a diagnosis will affect their family, social life, or career.
The symptoms of depression between men and women are generally the same. However, men can express other behaviors that women do not. Males will sometimes spend an excessive amount of time at work or on other projects to distract them from their feelings. A lack of awareness for why they feel the way they do may lead to aggression, violence, or abusive behavior. They can become more irritable than women and seek risky behavior, such as reckless driving. Since these behaviors could potentially overlap with other mental health issues, it is important to seek help from a mental heath professional for adequate treatment.
How to Help Both Genders
A treatment plan for depression will depend on the severity and frequency of symptoms. A mental health professional will usually recommend an assessment and look for the specific criteria for diagnosing. Successful treatment options for depression are cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and psychotherapy. Sometimes medication is necessary to alleviate some of the feelings of depression, and this method of treatment combined with talk therapy is highly effective. Studies have shown that cognitive therapy is as efficacious as antidepressant medications at treating depression, and it seems to reduce the risk of relapse even after its discontinuation. A healthy diet and adequate exercise are also crucial for a healthy mind and body. With these options in mind, it is important to seek help if you or someone you know is feeling depressed.
How Can We Help?
If you are experiencing any of these symptoms it is important to get help. With the proper mental health advice, symptoms of depression can be treated and we can help you get your health on track. We can provide mental health counseling for depression right here in our office. Please contact our office at (412)-532-1249 to schedule according to your availability and preferred location.
About Makin Wellness
Founded in 2017 , Makin Wellness is Pittsburgh’s premier therapy & coaching centers located in Downtown Pittsburgh and Downtown New Kensington. The company’s mission is to help people heal and become happy again. Makin Wellness specializes in depression, anxiety, addiction, trauma, medical marijuana assisted treatment and relationship counseling.